The show must go on: Kelowna musicians take virtual stage to keep playing

Rebellious Unicorns offers local artists the chance to perform live, a rarity amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Jacob Chrystal steps on stage and takes the mic.

It’s the first time in the past year he’s been able to perform, under his stage name Unknown Persona, live in front of an audience.

And, while that audience may be filled with plastic caricatures of locals, pets and cartoon characters, he knows that behind the four cameras set up around him, his fans are tuned in online to watch him sing.

Story continues below photo.

Unknown Persona (Jacob Chrystal) performs at the Kelowna Community Theatre’s Black Box theatre on Feb. 28, 2021. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Unknown Persona (Jacob Chrystal) performs at the Kelowna Community Theatre’s Black Box theatre on Feb. 28, 2021. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Rebellious Unicorns has been running a live-streamed concert series at the Kelowna Community Theatre since November 2020, providing local musicians with a chance to perform live, a rarity during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Live @ The KCT was initially planned as small, in-person shows, the production company shifted its approach after the province issued public health orders further limiting gatherings.

On Feb. 27 and 28, in partnership with Kelowna-based record label LegionHQ, Rebellious Unicorns hosted four rap and hip hop acts (DLopez, Unknown Persona, Opposite I, and E. Val) on its streaming service, Unicorns.LIVE.

“It’s still obviously different because there’s no audience, but at least they’re getting to perform on a stage,” said Dustyn Baulkham, executive producer and CEO of Rebellious Unicorns.

While there may not be an audience of people, every seat in the small Black Box theatre was filled.

Story continues below photo.

Plastic cutouts fill the seats in the Black Box theatre as DLopez performs on Feb. 27, 2021. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)

Plastic cutouts fill the seats in the Black Box theatre as DLopez performs on Feb. 27, 2021. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)

READ MORE: Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

READ MORE: B.C. musician records song for upcoming ‘Justice League’ film

Rather than having artists play to an empty room, Rebellious Unicorns opted to sell plastic cutouts, allowing people to put themselves, their dog or whatever else they want in the crowd.

“At least it looks almost like an audience for them, so it feels a little bit more normal,” said Baulkham.

And normalcy is something that musicians are striving for right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has nixed nearly every aspect of live performance for small local artists, who would usually look to book late-night gigs at bars and clubs.

“Right now, it’s absolutely essential for preserving what little is left of the entertainment sector,” said LegionHQ’s Kyle Haynes, noting the importance of the proper sound, proper lighting and professional set-up Rebellious Unicorns provides.

“Live streaming is going to be the big thing for — we don’t know how long. It could be a year, two years; it could be this summer. It’s a reality that we have to deal with.”

Story continues below photo.

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)

From a performer’s point of view, Chrystal said the virtual stage is not all that different from its in-person counterpart — aside from the cutout of ‘Pickle Rick’ he made a note of during his set. Mostly, he’s just appreciative of the chance to play live.

“I’m just so happy and grateful to be part of anything musical in the area,” he said. “It means everything to me. I love singing, I love performing, and I love sharing art. It’s a beautiful thing.”

While artists are on board with the necessary change in medium, concert-goers have been tougher to convince. Asking music lovers to change the way they enjoy live shows is no easy task. But Haynes offered a solution to those looking for the “classic” experience.

“When we buy a live stream and watch it, we’ll park two blocks away, charge ourselves $8 a beer, have ourselves wait 20 minutes to go to the bathroom, just to make it feel like a real concert experience,” he joked.

Baulkham said he hopes to host another round of the Live @ The KCT series at the end of March. All of last weekend’s performances will be available for purchase for a limited time on Unicorns.LIVE.

READ MORE: B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

READ MORE: Famed Okanagan poet Shane Koyczan reflects on the pandemic in new show

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusLive music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School District 83 trustees are expected to be discussing the current Long Range Facilities Plan options at the April 20 school board meeting. (File photo)
Letter: Let the people have their say on Salmon Arm school options

Parent encourages School District 83 board to hold off on making a decision

South Shuswap. (Google Maps)
CSRD to ask school trustees to delay decision on Salmon Arm high school options

South Shuswap director advocating for Sorrento high school option

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Public input on the City of Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget is open until 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, 2021. (City of Enderby photo)
Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget open for public input

The proposed spending plan includes a 2.2 per cent tax increase; public input open until Monday

Glenn Moyer is seeking space on a public wharf in Sicamous in order to restart his water taxi business after a year-long shutdown due to COVID-19. (Glenn’s Water Taxi/Facebook)
Water taxi operator requests public dock moorage in Sicamous

Glenn Moyer, a long time water taxi operator, is brimming with stories of life on the lake

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

Valen a student of Coldstream Elementary writes advice for adults amid a pandemic.
‘We can get rid of COVID together’: B.C. kids share heartwarming advice

Elementary students share their wisdom to adults in unprecedented times

Mervin Mascarenhas giving one of his pens to Honorary JP-MP. Premier David Burt of Bermuda. (Image: Mervin Mascarenhas)
Kelowna man who made $90K ‘Space Pen’ recognized by dignitaries, sheikhs

Mervin Mascarenhas is the first Canadian to grace the cover of Millennium Millionaire Magazine

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. health minister says delay in Moderna vaccine ‘disappointing’

‘The sooner we get vaccines in people’s arms the better, and inconsistency in delivery is a consistent problem. This is simply a reality and not an issue of blame,’ Adrian Dix said Friday

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks games against Leafs postponed as team returns from COVID-19

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Old English design elements can be seen in the sign of the Summerland Farm and Garden Centre in 1993. The guidelines are no longer in place, but some downtown businesses still show aspects of the days when Summerland had a theme in place. This photo was taken by Summerland photographer Dan Dorotich. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Old English theme has been abandoned

From the 1980s until the early 2000s, Summerland had design guidelines in its downtown

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Most Read