The COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to large gatherings the world over, and in the case of many non-gaming events and festivals, some are turning to video games for a substitute. One such event, Block by Blockwest, will be a music festival held via Minecraft that aims to provide a venue for musicians whose spring and summer tours have been canceled, while also raising money for the CDC Foundation's response to the crisis.
Organized by the group Courier Club, who will also perform in the festival, Block By Blockwest will be held on April 25 starting at 3 p.m ET and is set to feature over 20 acts. So far, the headliners include feminist punk rockers Pussy Riot, rapper Oliver Francis, rock group Fever 333, and the band Citizen. A second wave of artists will be announced in the coming weeks.
In these wild times, you do things like play a virtual music fest on Minecraft. So let’s go then. pic.twitter.com/S9ZW9fRuPW— CITIZEN (@CitizenMi) April 2, 2020
A video explaining how the festival works specifies that it will use Minecraft Java Edition, the legacy version for PC, Mac, and Linux built off of Minecraft's original code base. The Minecraft server for the festival will be available at the IP address "fest.blockbyblockwest.com." The audio from the festival's two stages will be streamed live via Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and the Block By Blockwest Discord channel.
While all of the proceeds raised will go to the coronavirus relief campaign run by the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit created by the U.S. Congress, Block By Blockwest will also feature a novel way to support the participating musical acts. A merch store created in the Minecraft server will automatically take attendees to the store pages for the bands in question, letting players buy t-shirts, posters, and albums from inside the game.
This is far from the first time musicians have performed live via Minecraft—and really, 2018's Coalchella festival had a better name—but this is a cool way to bring people together during these times while also showing support for bands and musicians whose livelihoods have been endangered by the global lockdown. Surely, lots of folks are eager for the day when shows and musical festivals can spin back up, but in the meantime Minecraft isn't a half-bad alternative. Hopefully, Creepers won't be allowed on the festival grounds.
Header image: An act at Coalchella, via Microsoft's official Minecraft website.