Long Live the Online Gig: Splendour XR

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The pandemic changed everyday life and it hit the music industry hard. Live music in particular had to reinvent how to get back in front of fans. For over a year, streaming made it possible to bring back the live energy. Recently, a new concept has emerged: virtual reality concerts.

Splendour XR is the first virtual reality experience in the music performance world. Splendour In The Grass is one of the most popular festivals in the world, and thanks to VR technology, everyone was able to join. 

Splendour XR created the feeling of being at a festival, minus dealing with unpredictable weather and huge crowds. The event was even complete with onsite ‘security’ and ‘medical’!

The set times slightly overlapped so it felt like you were rushing from one stage to the next. Depending on your time zone, you had to wake up early to see your favorite artist play. It was worth it to experience it in real time. Thanks to the Relive option, fans could go back to experience any live performances. 

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Each act had their own approach on how they played their set. Some opted for a green screen so it flowed with the Splendour XR stage setup. Charli XCX went that route and it made for a true virtual reality experience compared to the other mainstage acts.

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Charli XCX

One of the best acts that played the mainstage was The Killers. They worked the stage like one of their ‘IRL’ shows. Fans interacted online and excited tweets would pop up when their favorite song played. CHVRCHES, another mainstage act, showed a strong stage presence. Their new album, Screen Violence, is due out later this month. CHVRCHES played new songs live and we can’t wait to hear the entire album.

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CHVRCHES

Splendour XR was the perfect time to see other artists I never saw live. Phoebe Bridgers performed a slightly stripped down version of her songs while interacting with her live band. Little Simz’ ‘Venom’ has been on TikTok nonstop and it was amazing to see her perform live.

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Phoebe Bridgers
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Little Simz

Also like at an IRL festival, you can discover new artists. My favorite surprise was the mainstage act Band-Maid. 

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BAND-MAID

Grimes took a totally different approach. She didn’t appear on stage. Instead, Grimes created another digital realm and interacted with fans on Discord instead. It was more like a DJ set but it was interesting to chat with other fans within that space Grimes created.

With the world changing every moment during this pandemic, it will be interesting to see how music and VR continue to work together. Even with everything opening back up and IRL events are planned, the comfort from your own home (or wherever you want to be) is becoming more ideal. Work from home became the new normal. Now, we can gig from home. 

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Images provided by SPLENDOUR XR.

Image courtesy of Maxim Hopman.

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