Arts & Entertainment, Features

REVIEW: Jeremy Zucker and Chelsea Cutler fall victim to the ‘pit’falls of a virtual concert

Music lovers and concert fanatics everywhere have, thus far, been skeptical about the concept of an “virtual concert.” The show must go on, but is it a real show if it’s online?

Chelsea Cutler. Cutler and Jeremy Zucker performed songs from their EPs “brent” and “brent ii” in a virtual concert Wednesday. COURTESY OF JOHN HUTCHINGS

The allure of a live, in-person concert, brings a sea of fans united only by their love for an artist — an artist you get to be in the same room with, exchange glances with and maybe even catch their guitar pick in the crowd.

A streamed or recorded performance, if executed well, has the potential to create a small, intimate experience rather than one in a packed venue — and all from the comfort and safety of one’s own home.

Though Jeremy Zucker and Chelsea Cutler did not manage to recreate that real-concert feeling in their streamed show, they did put on a pleasant performance showcasing their musical talent.

Moment House — a new LA-based platform for artists to perform ticketed, digital live shows — hosted Zucker and Cutler for “brent: live on the internet,” a small play-through of their joint EP “brent ii” and some previous collaborations.

Wednesday’s concert was short and sweet, lasting only about 40 minutes. This was the first time the duo played their new EP in its entirety together.

The five-track EP premiered Feb. 5, and is a follow-up to their first joint EP, “brent,” in 2019. Songs from both releases were featured in the live show.

Five musicians surrounded Zucker and Cutler, a spotlight illuminating the two performers from above and a camera circling the band throughout the show. A dirt floor and assorted foliage formed an outdoorsy feel to the space. The aesthetic matched the calm musicality of the EP, whose cover features the couple leaning on each other beside a horse pasture.

The show began with the endearing fan-favorite “this is how you fall in love,” which is a sweet ballad about finding the perfect person. The duo sounded even better live than they do in the recording on the song.

While performing live, they both had the chance to portray the raw emotion that is sometimes lost in the final studio cut of a song.

Then, Zucker and Cutler decided to transition into “please,” a song off their first EP about a relationship on the brink of collapse. This performance had the virtual audience feeling the heartbreak right along with the people in the song.

The live chat that accompanied the concert featured many comments such as “omg cryingggg” to indicate how emotional fans were at this song.

Emotional songs were not in short supply during this show, as the pair began singing “parent song.” This song tackles the changing relationship between a child and their parents as the child grows up and becomes their own person.

This heartwrencher bled straight into the final track on “brent ii,” titled “the stars,” which tells the story of a woman trying to redefine herself after a difficult breakup.

As the two artists played through their next two songs, “brooklyn boy” and “better off” — a collab single from Jermey Zucker’s 2018 EP “glisten” — the pacing of the concert as a whole solidified.

But, it was just too slow.

Not only are Zucker and Cutler’s collective discographies extremely ballad-heavy, but the transitions between songs felt languorous and dragging.

The screen would fade to black for a couple seconds as the crew adjusted the camera angle and then fade in on the artists again as they set up for the next song. Awkward silences or half-baked attempts at audience engagement made these moments feel even longer than they were and made the 40-minute stretch to feeling more like an hour and a half.

Zucker and Cutler wrapped up their performance with a new track, “emily [extended],” and an old one, “you were good to me.”

These songs continued the slow pace of the show, but gave viewers a bit of excitement because “emily [extended]” has only been released on YouTube.

The show ended abruptly after the final notes of the acoustic “you were good to me,” and a banner from the website popped up thanking viewers for tuning in.

This virtual concert was a prime example of why the energy of a packed venue is just as vital to an enjoyable concert as the onstage talent.

Although both Zucker and Cutler performed wonderfully, something was missing throughout the show.

Some viewers used the live chat feature to connect with others, but it did not reconcile the fact that, at the end of the day, viewers were sitting in their homes and the artists were only performing for cameras and a crew.

Hopefully this duo is able to perform live for an audience as soon as it is safe because their talent, combined with the passion and buzz of an audience full of fans, would make for an amazing concert.

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