Splendour XR, one of the most technologically advanced virtual music festivals to debut during the pandemic, opens Friday (July 23) at 9:30 p.m. ET with extended reality performances by The Killers, Khalid, Charli XCX, Denzel Curry and the debut of a new musical project from singer Grimes called Grimes Metaverse.
Developed by the creators of Splendour in the Grass held in Australia’s Byron Bay every year, tickets give viewers at home access to more than 50 artist performances. Organizers are using photorealistic virtual replication technology to showcase the festival grounds including natural light transitions from day to night, while artists perform as holograms thanks to green-screen captures and technology from Sansar, a San Francisco-based social virtual reality platform developer.
The entire two-day experience costs $35, or $20 for one day, which met organizers’ goal of “being cheap and accessible,” says Splendour in the Grass co-producer Jessica Ducrou, who is developing this year’s event with co-producer Paul Piticco. “We wanted to re-create the festival as it exists in real life. People who’ve been will be able to connect with the space and their memories and their experiences and people that haven’t been will get to see what it looks like.”
Ducrou is describing the festival as extended reality, taking what fans are used to experiencing online and augmenting the realism using virtual reality headsets and spatial sound, noting “it’s more than watching a stream — it’s an immersive, connected experience for a community.”
Attendees can even customize their festival look thanks to tech from Marvelous Designer, fashion software that allows users to design clothes for their avatars, create their own schedule, travel from stage to stage and meet up and party with friends and strangers. In PC or VR mode, avatars around the world can talk and connect with each other as if they were at the real live event, allowing for natural voice conversations that fall off in the distance and emulate real life.
Vance Joy will perform his set atop a Barcelona building designed by Spanish architect Atoni Gaudi, while other acts will perform on a green screen and appear on a rendering of the Splendour stage. “It’s really an interpretation of how the artist wants to appear,” Ducrou explained.
There’s a comedy tent for stand-up, a kid’s area called Little Spendour, and an online medical center to assist any patrons who are struggling with their mental health. Fans can teleport from stage to stage to watch artists perform in a range of environments and watch live performances from 70 different camera angles, or discuss the festival in the Splendour Forum and sit for panels and interviews on music, culture and lifestyle issues
Single user tickets are available from $19.99 for a single day and $34.99 for both days, with a $2.50 discount for Splendour in the Grass existing IRL ticket-holders. Splendour XR will operate globally on a single time zone, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time) (GMT +11) with programming from 2 p.m. All video content will be available for seven days after the event. Available on any device through PC, mobile, browser and VR (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index).