Finlands biggest online event – a gig by JVG – was attended by over half a million but Helsinki has even more ambitious plans to become the virtual capital of the world
Helsinki’s huge VR gig hints at the potential of virtual tourism
According to Finlands National Police Board, this years Vappu Eve (the festive night before May Day, when the country traditionally enjoys public fun and frolics) was “exceptionally peaceful”. Citizens largely respected calls to stay at home. And yet … I found myself at a gig in Helsinkis Senate Square with almost 150,000 other people. I was dressed as a giant pineapple called Temperamenttinen Satuilija (Temperamental Fabulist!), and was tossing champagne at Finnish rap duo JVG as they performed live on a stage, in front of the citys neoclassical cathedral. Just another day in lockdown.
Though it happened in real time, the event was held in the virtual world. While Temperamenttinen – my avatar – was bopping in the Nordic twilight, I was at home, at my computer, cat on knee, finger on mouse, sending gestures and fizz-bottle emojis to the duo, who could see the feedback as they performed. I cant say it had the buzz of being at a “proper” concert. And JVG werent my personal jam. But, technically, it was impressive. Without the requirement of a VR headset, I was watching humans, performing in real time, in front of an interactive audience, within a world of meticulously rendered make believe.