From left to right: Bassist Brennen Bates, drummer Cole Carson, Cameron Boyer, and Cameron Olsen.
As musicians search for innovative ways to guide music into the homes of listeners, Los Angeles based alternative rock group– Weathers– brings to light the once aflamed soul changing experience of live concerts. In the transition to a remote lifestyle for most during the worldwide pandemic, the band not only releases two singles “Always Tired” and “C’est La Vie” in a five month period, but creates a true, virtual live performance right from viewers’ screens at home.
Now, this is no ordinary livestream in an artist’s bedroom where they answer questions about their daily routines or expose the meanings behind popular lyrics. But a full out recorded video shoot in a studio-sized venue with multiple camera angles alternating every few seconds, blaringly projective lights, and a statement wardrobe that makes you feel underdressed in your own quarters. Weathers’ image precedes them as an authentically pronounced band that carries their sets with unforgettable showmanship: whether they open or headline a show. The concert simulating, live viewership on July 18th, via the streaming website “Veeps.com,” stages no difference from the reputation that seizes the audience’s excitement as they portray their usual booming choreography whilst losing themselves in the music.
Olsen and Boyer on July 18: an energy-riveting experience. (Screenshots taken from Video by Michael L. Costa)
A live concert emulates a completely different environment than the ritualistic procedure of bumping a personalized playlist between the ears. There is a present in-the-moment phenomena that happens a sea of bodies look up in a trance at their favorite artists whilst repeating memorized lyrics back to them and watching the pure excitement that is taking place on stage. Fans feel free from judgement and, often, a sense of euphoria visualizing the performance occurring in front of them. That irreplaceable feeling is savored today as the world cuts off social congregation on account of the mass spread of COVID-19. People begin to crave a spec of connection and liveliness by turning to musicians who use the outlet of music as a sparking ardor.
With tours pushing back dates and entertainers trying to find creativity in a time of crisis, Weathers paves the way for a rather untouched form of communication with their fan base that ties in the energy of seeing them live but shares the performance from the comfort of one’s home. The idea dawns upon their front man and lead singer, Cameron Boyer, and guitarist, Cameron Olsen, after receiving the news that their first national headline tour “Our Little Secret Tour” is postponed to February of 2021. Noticing that their regular Instagram live streams– consisting of acoustic versions of their most popular songs– could not keep their passionate listeners at bay for long, they thought bigger. “We’re not going to be able to play a show for these fans for a long time. Maybe we should try to put on a full on band show with all of the members playing full out: lights and all; like it’s a real show so that we can give the fans something that will hold them over till February,” Boyer says.
(Screenshots taken from Video by Michael L. Costa)
Interested in bringing all of the aspects of a typical, electrifying Weathers show into this virtual experience, the four members got to work on how to give these future watchers a real connection to not only the melodies and lyrics, but to the humans on the other side of the screen. He continues, “We really just wanted to put everything we could into it so that the fans felt like it was a real show.”
The band congregate for three days of rehearsal following their longest time apart to get back into the groove of playing with one another. Similarly to an in-person show, Weathers prepares for a blood pumping set on the day of the live stream, however, it feels slightly unusual having to break out of their once continuous routine of isolation that has adapted to the entire world. But that does not impact them from picking up right where they left off. “We did have to shake off a bit of rust but we’ve played so much that it’s second nature at this point,” Boyer says, “you just play a song and it all comes back.” Even though the nerves of playing in front of an audience no longer exist, there is still a pressure that the group pushes through amidst their return to the stage. In addition to their usual set that retrieves tracks from their 2018 debut album “Kids in the Night,” Weathers ties in three never before played songs. Incorporating their most recently released single “C’est La Vie” and a new, unheard song titled “Talking is Hard” posed to be slightly nerve wracking since having to pause from performing. Instead of stopping there, though, Weathers also covers their own version of “Lucky” by Britney Spears that turns the early 2000s soft pop hit into a more instrument heavy ballad; with electric guitar chords and an acoustic rhythm to allow the original beat to remain somber.
In preparation of the livestream, Weathers rehearses at the Federal Bar in SoCal. (Michael L. Costa)
Throughout the duration of a concert, artists gain feedback from the audience– whether it be a plea for encores or unconsciously dancing to the rhythm of a song. But in this scenario, Weathers plays for a silent audience: releasing all of their energy to watchers with no ability to see the reactions of their viewers on the other side of the screen. “It was pretty strange,” he says, “and you feel kind of this awkward silence and have the urge to fill it with something but you just have to accept that there’s no way around it and that’s just the nature of it.”
Even when faced with this challenge of building an atmosphere that resembles a social setting, the band continues with gestures, notions, and conversation that would intensify and excite the crowd, no matter who is in front of them. But the person-to-person interactions between artists and their fans is what makes a performance exhilarating. Cameron Olsen chimes in and says “You feed off the energy of the crowd and there’s little things in live shows that are not going to be the same as when you are streaming. But we are going to work with all we have. It was still fun but there is something nostalgic about playing live: going on stage and seeing all of these people are out there for us.” One experience that separates streaming and viewing a concert live, Olsen says, is “if they know the words that’s huge.”
They emphasize the line between listening to their songs and making the jump to attending their shows shares a greater level of desire and support. “It’s a huge confidence boost when the fans are reacting back to you. It makes you feel like you’re doing something right. It feels better to have them there but the nature of our situation forces you to accept it the way it is and allows you to move on: to just enjoy it.”
The Weathers livestream continuous to use aspects of audience interaction to make the set as realistic as possible. During their raucous single “Lonely Vampire” the group implements an explosion of energy from the audience during every show they play. Since the song came out in 2019, Cameron Boyer encourages the audience to crouch down during the bridge and as he screams the first words of the chorus, the mass of people in front of them jumps up in unison to the lyrics “And I can’t change” and dance ballistically. This electrifying tradition still stands within the livestream but is tweaked to accommodate this new reciprocity. Boyer says, “It was strange because that space was still in there for ‘Lonely Vampire’ where we extend the bridge so that it is longer compared to the record but instead of directing the audience, I thanked everyone that was tuning in and was involved to fill the space.” The front man expresses his longing for their usual connectivity with fans as he says, “I wish the fans could be there to jump with us and, like Olsen said, to sing the lyrics back to us because it really does amplify the emotions that everyone in the room are having.” Nonetheless, the hour-long session on July 18 brings together an international audience that gets a piece of the energy-riveting experience that is Weathers from all over the world.
In reflection upon the event, Boyer and Olsen open up about what it is like as artists to find the motivation to write and produce music when inspiration is less prevalent as a result of the national quarantine that has especially engulfed Los Angeles. Boyer says, “There was a bit of an adjustment period when this started and we really just didn’t know what to do. There was a lot of down time and thinking ‘What are we supposed to do?’ But then we got to the point where we kind of saw the silver lining in it and thought that it was more of an opportunity being handed to us to take this time to experiment and try new things with our music that we normally wouldn’t have the time to do otherwise.” The group uses their new found commodity to push the boundaries that once confined them when busy opening for bands like Echosmith and Badflower on tour in the past year. “We are trying to expand Weathers as a whole and to see where we can go because we would usually not have this kind of creative freedom so it’s important to take advantage of it while we can.”
Front man, Cameron Boyer, ecstatic during “Dirty Money.” (Michael L. Costa)
As the “Our Little Secret Tour” dates and their ability to reappear on stage come closer, Weathers shifts their focus to the semi-permeable future and what it may hold. Olsen says, “We are constantly changing and still growing up, but at the same time trying to challenge ourselves because we don’t want to be complacent in writing the same style of songs multiple times.”
Boyer says, “I definitely think about the future a lot. Like where we are going to go and what Weathers is going to end up being. I eventually want it to be bigger than just the music alone. To be a culture, a feeling. Olsen and I have been writing a bunch of music that’s pretty different but still familiar and taking the first steps to expand Weathers as a memorable feeling to be associated with.”
“We almost want to be the soundtrack to a kid’s high school experience. Where it becomes more than music and more than a band,” Olsen says. The introduction to authentic emotional ties within their music takes Weathers to a new level in exploring unique routes of raw innovation that links the band’s image to the atmosphere they create live.
In 2020, the future is unpredictable and an endless thought of outcomes. He continues, “There is so much space and time to keep growing so it’s exciting to see where we will be in some time.”
Weathers continuously works towards one initiative that is spoken about through their music and portrays the message strongly. Songs like “I’m Not Okay,” “Casual Mondays,” and “Problems” carry an upbeat track but share deeper thoughts on mental health awareness. The band writes lyrics touching upon internal battles and turmoils with self-identity that instate a relatability to societal pressures. Themes of normalizing action towards bettering oneself and building the courage to accept help make the alternative rock group veracious. In light of social distancing procedures and the effect it has on mental health, Boyer says, “It’s really easy to get lost in quarantine and lost in your thoughts, which is okay but there comes a point that it can be dangerous. When you feel out of a routine and you’re not doing certain things, you can fall into a pit of nothingness which is kind of how it feels sometimes.” Weathers advocates acknowledging and embracing who you are, but working to find help if needed. “It’s important to stay busy but also to make sure you have at least one person that is your lifeline– someone you can reach out and talk to, especially in this unique situation, as a support system. It is important to stay attentive to your thoughts but if you do go to a bad place, work through it and don’t necessarily ignore it because it is a work in process. It really always is.”
The 4 member band, Weathers, performs their hit song “Problems” through a screen for viewers to see. (Michael L. Costa)
Going back on tour in February as national headliners, Weathers takes the experience of their livestream concert with them and talks about what they are most looking forward to once back on the road. Finally taking new music to the stage and creating fresh memories in between adds a gratifying aspect to touring again. Boyer says, “We’ve never done a national headline so I’m excited to see how well it does, see if people actually come out and see us.” For the lead singer, it is a holistic experience that takes up more than the venue or the fans. He discloses the one of a kind moments of cross-country scenery and irreplaceable views. “I’m the only guy in the band that really enjoys the long rides when I’m either driving or sitting in the back. When I think of tour I will always remember the shows and fans but the parts that stick with me are the little moments when we, for example, pass by the same house every single time we go on the road because it’s on our route or always go to the same restaurant.” One specific captured memory, he reveals, is seeing the sunset while driving through Montana. The adventures that last forever shape their unique snapshots of life and bring soul back to touring. Memories like hearing “Happy Pills” on a radio in Iowa, stopping for the largest cinnamon rolls at Heaven on Earth when driving from Oregon to California, or going on stage in Pittsburg after being caught in the rain during their first tour, spark realness to encounter when performing across the country.
Using acoustics to balance with their alternative rock set, Boyer plays during “Poser.” (Michael L. Costa)
The Weathers livestream opens the door to new forms of communication between artists and their fans by providing a platform that strikes up human connection from across a screen. Their showmanship and authenticity entices listeners to do more than just listen. Intriguing and extraordinary, they turn music into experience.