New Orleans' newest indie Carnival krewe parades on a virtual St. Charles Avenue online tonight.
[Updated] As Carnival has calcified into the form it now takes with big-ass nightly spectacles starting on Wednesday, so have others worked to make it something smaller and more personal. Last weekend, ‘tit Rex and Chewbacchus were one manifestation of that impulse, and tonight the Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave is another. At 7 p.m., VKV will “parade” at KreweOfVaporwave.com and you'll be able to see the parade "pass" St. Charles and Napoleon at 7, St. Charles and Louisiana at 8, St. Charles and I-10 at 9 (will the bands virtually play as they go under the overpass?), and St. Charles and Canal Street at 10. At that point, it will disband without a party or ball.
“This year we want the experience to be lonely,” says Merely Synecdoche, spokesperson for VKV. “There is so much pain to process. So much to think about. We want you to watch it alone, in the dark, in sweatpants, with a bottle of wine, and whatever else it is you need to relax. If you happen to have people over, it's fine, you'll still be alone. We are all alone. But next year, will there be a VKV IRL Ball? YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.”
Naturally, my interview with Synecdoche took place via email. Vaporwave lives online in relative anonymity, and pseudonyms that riff on DJ naming conventions are part of the world. It’s the bastard son of DJ culture, the one that manipulates music to perplex and unsettle people rather than to make them dance. Sonically and visually, its roots are in the commercial culture of the ‘80s, particularly smooth jazz, which ends up rougher for the process. According to Synecdoche, “Vaporwave is the defining genre of our times. Firmly rooted in plunderphonics theory, Vaporwave constitutes the artistic rehabilitation of commercial music, television and advertisements, primarily from the ‘80s and ‘90s.”
Tonight’s parade represents people remaking Mardi Gras in their own image. The Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave is the parade for people who’d rather not be around people. “I think that maybe we created this alternative parade precisely because we never consumed Mardi Gras in the same way as everyone else in the first place,” Synecdoche says. “VKV members are the kids that lurk in the shadows. The socially isolated ones who watched too much TV and can't seem to forget any of it. The Redditors and the Facebook egoists. The over-thinkers. The neurotics. The viewers that are truly a part of this parade will be the ones who open their browser, see what's going on, and understand that there is a whole audiovisual language out there that is beautiful and accessible and describes in uncanny detail what I thought for so many years had only been going on in my own mind and the sky will open up and angels will sing and we all won't have to die quite so soon. Everyone else will just have to hang on and figure it out.”
This year’s parade does have a theme—“Vaporwave is Dead: Long Live Vaporwave”—and it will have floats, each of which is a Vaporwave music video. There will be throws in the form of links that will be thrown out via the chat application on Twitch, will livestream the parade. Synecdoche promises that there will be delays and that the riders will be drunk.
“Because we’re trying to stay true to form,” he says.
Updated February 4, 9:36 a.m.
The entire virtual parade is now available on YouTube, so I've replaced the first promo video with the Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave's first parade.