Ever since covid broke out, games like Minecraft, Fortniteand Roblox— early examples of a social “metaverse” – hosted all sorts of fantastical musical acts, like glitchpop duo 100 gecsmega pop star Ariana Grandeand more recently, indie rock queen soccer mummy (aka singer-songwriter Sophie Allison). As a connoisseur of both albums with under 3,000 Spotify plays and video games babies could play with their eyes closed, I was thrilled by this totally bizarre technological advancement. And yet, I have never attended a virtual concert myself. Not before today.
I knew that had to change when I learned that cafe pop goddess Soccer Mummy was planning three days of Roblox listening parties and mini-game events for Sometimes forever, his magnificently melancholic new album. I’ve been listening since his first album, 2016 For young heartsand I couldn’t think of a better place to commemorate my last six years of fandom than on a server where everyone is 12 and looks like a block of cheese.
Its three days of events started yesterday, but I decided to go to the afternoon concert today because it seemed the least risky for a Roblox beginner. I did a Roblox account and quietly prepared for what a horror Roblox the concert could bring.
July 14, 10 a.m.: I feel nervous, so I prepare myself by downloading Roblox and try to make yourself comfortable. I notice that a link to a “the ground is lava” mini-game is still up in the Official Football Mummy Roblox band, so I check. I don’t understand what is happening, but the ground quickly becomes lava and I die. As my vision fades, I see what appears to be the Soccer Mummy official. Roblox character. When I open my profile, I notice that I have inadvertently picked up an official Soccer Mummy hat and shirt. I decide to wear them later in the day to try and avoid looking like a loser. Now you know: before you die, the last thing you see is an official football mummy. Roblox character.
11:13 a.m.: I register on Soccer Mummy Official Roblox Group, where the link to today’s listening games will likely be displayed. There are currently 2,749 members, and some great threads in the comment section: “Who to get it, I go to my inventory, it’s not”, “Hi, I love your new album” , “Slay moms”.
12:20 p.m.: They posted the event link. I’m ready for that, I think, having prepared myself slightly. I didn’t want to attend the games — a round of the RoBeats! rhythm gameand a day at role-playing city Livetopia – because I’m afraid of being attacked by preteens. I wait about 10 minutes for things to cool before joining.
12:36 p.m.: My computer can’t handle listening to Soccer Mummy, playing Roblox, and open Google Docs at the same time. Gunshots ring out from Roblox, but I tell myself that I have to imagine things. I can’t move my avatar, but I hear Sometimes forever play away. I guess that means the gig is near, and I’m trying to find it. I can’t because my computer can’t handle Robloxis pure power. I give up and just listen for a few moments.
12:38 p.m.: There is a giant robot. It’s all down, and there’s a super loud acoustic guitar chorus that cuts through the audio from the Soccer Mummy album. I haven’t been able to move since I opened the game. I’m frozen in front of the Roblox police station, but at least it will be easy to call the police Roblox.
12:41 p.m.: I can move…I think. I stand in front of a pink stage, but I can’t find Soccer Mummy. I need to find Soccer Mummy. The music sounds pretty good, but when I try to turn up the volume, the floor starts shaking, and everything else Roblox players disappear.
12:43 p.m.: I realize that the event concert server was different from the one I was on. I discover it by reading the chat function which is visible on all my screenshots. It looks like Sophie Allison, the Soccer Mummy, is actually playing Roblox with us and talk in the chat, and she tells everyone that she will “see [us] I’m stupid. I find the link to the new server and start queuing to get in. It says “requested experience is complete”. If I miss this gig, I’m going to cry.
12:45 p.m.: I save my tears – I’m in, but the waiter makes me choose a job before entering. I decide to be “Hairdresser”. I click on “Hairdresser” and it tells me that I have “unlocked muscle car”. I see people talking to Soccer Mummy in the chat function, but how do I find her? I lose it!
12:48 p.m.: I start running around with my barbershop scissors because I don’t know how to put them down and somehow find the concert scene. I did it! soccer mom Roblox avatar stands in front of the microphone smiling as songs from his album play loudly. Someone just tried to run into me with their car, and people keep asking Soccer Mummy what vegetarian korma that’s because she said she had some for lunch. I can see her avatar and that she chose “criminal” as her profession. OK, now two cars have hit me.
12:50 p.m.: She replies that it’s “like an Indian curry” and she runs away Roblox fans, who started jumping and piling on her. She hid briefly at the top of the stage, but everyone followed her, and now she’s back in front of the microphone. I feel much more comfortable now and this experience blows my mind. My life is changing. I ask Soccer Mummy for a quote for this item in the chat, but she ignores me. It’s okay, Soccer Mummy, next time!
12:54 p.m.: Someone named savorydip keeps crushing people. Everyone jumps on stage, so I jump too. Roblox makes you feel so free! Someone named Mike says “jump if you like soccer mom”, and someone else says “Happy Jumping Time”. Yes!
12:56 p.m.: I hear gunshots again.
12:57 p.m.: OK, there’s literally someone with a gun trying to kill people. I see them standing on the stage, and little sparks fly from their guns as they fire bullets. They try to shoot Soccer Mummy, but I don’t think the gun does anything. And anyway, the show must go on. “This song is so good” says someone in chat about the song “Do not ask me.” When the song ends, Roblox is completely silent except for gunfire. Everyone jumps anyway, it’s cool.
1:00 p.m.: The music ends. Soccer Mummy says goodbye to us in chat, and people call her “mother” in response. It’s time for me to go too. I made it out alive, for the most part.
Some time passed and I had the opportunity to reflect. Was it a good gig? Absolutely not. Audio could be described as listening to YouTube videos on a desktop computer across the room, and when you turn away from the Roblox scene, it automatically chokes. Are video game concerts good alternatives to reality? No, but I don’t think that’s their appeal. In my brief, sweet first experience with a so-called metaverse gig, I felt a specific kind of anxiety and amusement that real-life consequences make impossible.
It’s funny and exciting to get hit by cars and get shot with a gun at a Soccer Mummy concert in Roblox. The very concept is 10 levels of absurdity and apocalypse – choose to enter a low frame rate digital world where kids try to kill you for listening to music while looking like a cube. In real life this would all be extremely alarming, but I’m glad games like Roblox can inject gratifying novelty into concert experiences. Long live indie rock, and long live Roblox concert.