Billie Eilish kicked off 2020 by sweeping the Grammys’ Big Four categories, and had plans to celebrate on her first-ever arena tour. But just a few dates in, Eilish, like so many others, had to postpone the remainder of the trek due to the ongoing pandemic.
Now, Saturday night (Oct. 24), the 18-year-old superstar returned to stage for her global pay-per-view concert, Where Do We Go? The Livestream. It was teased as a “one-of-a-kind” experience complete with interactive production by Los Angeles-based Lili Studios and powered by the platform Maestro.
Since March 25, Bandsintown has tracked more than 50,000 livestreams; between July 1 to Sept. 30, while interactions with free livestreams have declined by 26%, according to Bandsintown, engagement with paid livestreams has risen by 577%. With interest at an all-time high, Eilish sure delivered.
As fans entered the site, they were greeted with a message in the rapid-fire chatroom from Eilish herself: “Welcome to the show. Please be kind to each other. I love you.” During the pre-show, everyone from Alicia Keys to Lizzo, Jameela Jamil and “Billie Eilish’s surrogate dad” Steve Carell delivered virtual calls-to-action to vote. And following a quick preview of Eilish’s upcoming Apple Originals Film documentary, out February 2021, her voice boomed through viewers’ home speakers: “Everybody from home, what’s good! We’re liiiiive!”
As the lights drenched the stage in an over-saturated shade of red, Eilish appeared wearing a glitzy two-piece Gucci set (and sporting ankle brace supports) to open her set with “Bury a Friend.” It was the most basic stage setup throughout the hour-long gig — during which the livestream only cut out once, about five minutes in, and quickly returned.
While the show physically took place on a stage in L.A., the creative direction and XR (which fuses reality with virtual environments) allowed Eilish to sing among the stars, as she did with Finneas for the stripped-down “I Love You,” and while sitting on the ocean floor, which she did during “Ilomilo” before being eaten by an animated shark.
“I have never done anything like this before,” Eilish revealed. “I have been missing you guys so much.” But perhaps an even bigger, and less obvious, announcement came when she also shared that she and her brother/collaborator Finneas are in fact working on her second album. “Oops!” she said with a teasing glint in her eyes.
In addition to debut album tracks “Xanny,” “When the Party’s Over” and “My Strange Addiction,” Eilish also added newer releases into her set list, from the soaring Bond theme “No Time to Die” to her latest one-off, “My Future,” for which the stage transformed into the animated music video — only this time, it featured the real Eilish herself dancing among cartoon-like trees as raindrops appeared to cover viewers’ screens.
During the show’s quieter moments, soft chatter could be heard, likely from the same crew and family members who did their part to applaud after each song, reminding viewers that the inventive livestream wasn’t made in a vacuum. Still, the crowd was hardly big enough for Eilish, who was selling out venues the size of Madison Square Garden earlier this year; so, she had fans’ faces appear by the dozens on the massive monitors surrounding her so that she could perform directly to them during “Everything I Wanted.” And as she sang, “As long as I’m here/ No one can hurt you,” it felt like she flipped the script, making a promise to fans — many who already view her as a savior — that she will proudly continue to be their voice of a generation.
“I realized in quarantine that onstage is the only place I’ve ever felt like myself and like I belonged,” shared Eilish. “If we get the orange man out, maybe we’ll get to see each other again.”
Though that sentiment was ever-present throughout Where Do We Go? The Livestream, it was most explicit on “All the Good Girls Go to Hell,” during which Eilish was surrounded by videos of the causes (pollution) and effects (wildfires, protests) of global warming. Once the song ended, Eilish screamed, “Vote,” adding that it’s so important for herself and her peers in particular “because we’re the ones with futures.”