“Virtual hugs from me!” Daric Carvajal could barely contain his laughter at the Virtual Entertainment Festival, a live-streamed event presented by student radio station KSFS on December 11 and December 12. In his song, the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts alum boasted about his Zoom background and doing pushups while watching “Tiger King,” among other light-hearted observations about life quarantined in his bedroom.
It was a fitting message for the first-ever festival, spreading positive vibes amid a winter coronavirus surge and looming final exams. Streamed on Twitch, YouTube and Zoom, it featured 16 performers, including rappers, singers, a violinist, comedians and gamers.
As people spend more time at home in the pandemic, they are consuming more media. A Nielsen study found that Americans watched 75 percent more minutes streaming video during the second quarter of 2020 than in the same period the previous year. KSFS managers have noticed a notable spike in the station’s online listenership during the pandemic.
Festival host and KSFS Events Manager Mariah Peck, known as “Big Yaya” on the radio, says she hopes the festival can continue in the future.
“At the end of each set, [I was] blown away by how amazing all these artists were, and just being able to see their reaction to all of their love and support that they got,” said Peck, who graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in BECA. “Not every artist was on every platform like I was, so I was watching all the comments on Twitch, YouTube as well as in Zoom. It was cool to see their reaction after their show was over. We all loved them and appreciated them for their time and effort and their talent.”
KSFS Music Director Arman Sedgwick-Billimoria performed twice in the festival, first as a solo artist and, later, for the closing performance, as Tribe Divine’s keyboardist.
He notes the festival created a welcoming environment for all the performers, allowing them to showcase their styles in genres that defied traditional definitions.
“[In this festival] those labeled constructs dissipated, and it was more of just being there to experience it and just to listen to each other’s music and inspire each other,” said Sedgwick-Billimoria, a BECA major.
Watch the entire Virtual Entertainment Festival on YouTube.
— Story and video by Christinna Bautista