2020 in review: the digital performances that got us through

December 21, 2020

Though live streams and digital performances have been with us for years, 2020 was the year they finally came into their own as an art form unto themselves. Separated from each other by necessity, these are the performances that brought us together and got us through the year.


AFROPUNK’s digital concert is probably one of 2020’s concerts that had an incredible production value. One of the stand out performances amongst many, was from Sampa The Great, who delivered a visual feast that had everyone’s jaws on the floor. From the costumes, to the set design and choreography, this has to be one of the most memorable online performances in 2020. (Thembela Ngayi)


Big Joanie @ Third Man Records

The UK punk trio Big Joanie has spent 2020 putting out some of the most essential music of the year. From their epic “Cranes In The Sky” cover to their latest EP, they run through a set of songs that capture their live spirit in a way few bands this loud have figured out how to do in a digital context. (Nathan Leigh)


Duckwrth @ A Super Good Night

We’ve all fallen in love at the skating rink at least once – even if it was an imaginary romance in your head with the person who just zoomed by on light up wheels.  (Syron Townsend)

Joseph Solomon: Redbone cover

Joseph’s quickly getting attention for his YouTube series covering songs from the likes of Drake, Childish Gambino and many more. His simple setting of a guitar, a mic and lush green bush is really intimate, making the viewer connect and for a moment forget this is just an online performance. (Thembela Ngayi)

Lianne Le Havas @ Roundhouse

A master class in minimalism, Lianne Le Havas’ set at Roundhouse hit all the right notes. Armed only with her guitar and inimitable voice, Lianne Le Havas runs through an intimate set of old favorites and tracks from her latest self-titled record that’s breathtakingly intimate, and emotionally expansive. (Nathan Leigh)

Nova Twins @ K! Pit

A tour cancellation that reeeeally stung. The Nova Twins pull no punches in their lyrics, or in their activism (see their open letter to the MOBO Awards) and I can’t wait to see how the industry shifts in their wake. (Syron Townsend)


Black Haus @ Planet AFROPUNK

Equal parts live performance and full length music video, Black Haus uses their Planet AFROPUNK set to create a live performance that highlights why the indie rock band is one of 2020’s breakouts. (Nathan Leigh)

Halle x Chloe @ Tiny Desk

Chloe x Halle once again prove why they are a powerhouse with the latest performance for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert: Home Edition. The duo perform songs from their sophomore album, Ungodly Hours, accompanied by an all female orchestra. The chemistry between the two is undeniable, making this “home” concert a pleasure to watch. (Thembela Ngayi)

Moses Sumney @ Planet AFROPUNK

Moses Sumney’s imagination could hardly be contained within a closed space anyway. Virtual performances bored me to tears this year but Moses always manages to find a way to be surprising. (Syron Townsend)

Sampa The Great @ARIA Awards 2020

As if one legendary performance from Sampa The Great wasn’t enough. Sampa The Great brings poetry, politics and straight glamour in her ARIA 2020 Awards performance shot in her homeland Botswana. (Warren Bokwe)