It sounds like ancient history here in the middle of 2020, but there was once a magical time, before social distancing, when large crowds of people would gather together in giant venues to listen to live music. With coronavirus still very much a thing, it could be a long time before this once again becomes a normal occurrence — which is why the U.K.’s O2 Academy Brixton, one of London’s most iconic music venues, is gearing up to host a series of 360-degree virtual reality gigs.
The brainchild of promotion company Live Nation and MelodyVR, the “Live From O2 Academy Brixton” events will give fans with the MelodyVR app and an Oculus VR headset the opportunity to be virtually transported to the legendary London music venue (thereby taking care of the whole “can’t travel” problem) for live performances from a number of bands and individual musical artists.
“We look forward to partnering with MelodyVR and presenting Live From O2 Academy Brixton which will connect artists with fans globally through the latest and exciting 360-degree VR technology, direct from a purpose-built studio set within this iconic and world-famous venue,” Live Nation UK chairman Denis Desmond said in a statement.
MelodyVR’s technology records music events in immersive VR from a range of different “jump spots” that users can switch between. Essentially it’s a “pick your own camera angle” feature, but one that, in a music context, means that fans can choose approximately where they stand in a venue to get a different perspective on the musical performance.
The Brixton Academy has yet to reveal the names of the artists who will be participating in the virtual event. But the iconic music venue has played host to countless big names over the years, so expect a top-tier lineup. Recently, Melody VR used its cutting-edge technology to create the Wireless Festival’s Wireless Connect 2020 event, in which 70 artists delivered exclusive performances to fans from both London and Los Angeles.
Between innovations like this and the U.K. museum using telepresence robots to allow visitors to check out exhibitions during lockdown, it seems that all kinds of venues are working hard to rethink their offerings for the COVID-19 age. Truly smart cities are arriving later than you might think.
And as far as socially distanced tech goes, this certainly beats yet another Zoom call with your work colleagues talking awkwardly over one another!