Legendary rock band Kiss is using groundbreaking technology to continue touring

After 50 years, the iconic band is now using holographic avatars to keep their legacy strong
Legendary rock band Kiss is using groundbreaking technology to continue touring

Kiss is one of the most famous rock bands of all time. Beginning in 1973, the band quickly became famous for their iconic face paint and their over-the-top live shows which featured pyrotechnics and elaborate stage designs. Throughout the years, Kiss has seen many different members perform as part of the band, with the most recent lineup consisting of vocalist Paul Stanley, guitarist Tommy Thayer, drummer Eric Singer, and bassist Gene Simmons.

In 2019, Kiss began their End of the Road World Tour, which was promoted as being the group’s final tour. After numerous delays due to the 2020 pandemic, the tour was extended until 2023. Throughout the span of the tour, Kiss played 250 shows in five different continents, making an effort to play in as many cities as they could.

To commemorate the following that they’ve had in the city since the 1970s, Kiss scheduled one of their final shows to take place in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 25, 2023. For about a week before the show, vocalist Paul Stanley had suffered from the flu, which led to the band canceling performances in Ottawa and Toronto in Canada, as well as a scheduled show in Knoxville, Tennessee. Miraculously, Stanley was fully recovered in time to play the Indianapolis date, and then performed full sets in Chicago and Baltimore before the band reached their hometown of New York City for the final two shows of the tour.

To celebrate Kiss’ 50 year career and their final two shows, a number of events happened throughout New York City including a lighting ceremony of the Empire State Building with colors representing the four members of the band. On December 1 and 2, Kiss played their final shows at Madison Square Garden, the famous home arena of the New York Knicks.

Despite the End of the Road tour being advertised as the final Kiss tour, many fans didn’t believe it. Kiss has previously held “farewell tours” and then proceeded to tour again years later, so many fans doubted that the Madison Square Garden shows would be the true end of Kiss as a group. These doubts were proven correct as after their final show, Kiss left the stage to reveal holograms of the four members, which performed “God Gave Rock and Roll to You”, which is known as the “ending song” for all of the group’s shows.

The virtual avatars, which will see the beginning of a new era for the group, were created by Industrial Light and Magic and Pophouse.   The first is a pioneering special effects company, run by George Lucas,  that created effects for some of the most iconic films of all time such as The Empire Strikes Back and Jurassic Park.  The second is Pophouse, a Swedish entertainment company, who had previously done similar hologram work for the Swedish pop group ABBA.

Pophouse’s ABBA avatars were made using motion capture technology and re-recorded vocals from the group to give an authentic concert experience, but using CGI to make the band appear as they did during their peak of popularity in 1979. These avatars are currently used for a concert residency in London known as the ABBA Voyage. Kiss’ avatars are yet to perform, outside of othe ne song at the final in-person show, but they will use similar technology to the ABBA Voyage.

Even after retirement, Kiss strives to reach new audiences through many different forms. In an interview regarding the final tour and the virtual avatars, Kiss member Gene Simmons stated, “We can be forever young and forever iconic by taking us to places we’ve never dreamed of before.” Paul Stanley also was quoted as saying, “What we’ve accomplished has been amazing, but it’s not enough. The band deserves to live on because the band is bigger than we are, we’ve always thought of ourselves as more than just a music band.” The new era has brought both applause and criticism, as many see the digital concerts as a cheap gimmick and an attempt for more money and attention. Regardless of how the band progresses with their new era, it is impossible to deny that the digital avatars are a groundbreaking piece of technology that could change the way concerts are held forever, just as Kiss did 50 years ago.n

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