First ABBA, and now KISS joins the bandwagon of bands that intend to go on touring until the heat death of the universe thanks to KISS digital avatars. Who asked for this?
Over the weekend, KISS played its last-ever concert at Madison Square Gardens in New York City. At this stage, KISS is arguably as famous for “last time ever” tours as it is for face paint and in-your-face-rock.
Of course, because it’s KISS, Gene Simmons lied about the whole “last time ever” bit.
KISS is heading down the same route – and the same producers – that ABBA did for its whole Voyage spectacular, with a digital avatar-based version of the show… or as per the official release
The band’s transformation into avatars will ensure their immortalization, while pushing the boundaries of rock and roll performances, as KISS have done throughout their career to date. This avatar performance will feature KISS as fantasy-based superheroes, and will provide a glimpse of just one of the many and varied ways in which KISS will live on as digital performers through their avatars in the future.Source: Pophouse press release
I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise, because KISS frontman Gene Simmons has demonstrated so very many times in the past that he’s entirely happy to stick the KISS name onto everything from coffins to TVs, video cameras to condoms and more.
It’s also technically not the first time there’s been a digital Gene Simmons avatar either – anyone else remember Kiss: Pinball or Kiss: Psycho Circus?
I Was (Digitally) Made For Lovin’ You
I haven’t been able to pull this line out of mothballs for a very long time, but it’s all Jar-Jar’s fault.
No, really, it is, because the technology behind digital KISS is via Industrial Light and Magic, with much of the same efforts (it seems) as was put into ABBA’s voyage show coming together to create a fully digital KISS.
To get something of a grasp of what that might be like, I reached out to former Lifehacker Editor (and, spoiler, my brother), Angus Kidman, a noted ABBA fan who’s done the whole ABBA Voyage show a couple of times now.
He noted that while ABBA’s original intent was to tour the Voyage show, that proved impractical, which is why it’s based in the UK – and also why it led to the creation of an entirely new album of material, ABBA’s first in many decades.
He noted that “there seems to be more of a suggestion that they might try to tour a virtual KISS show”.
KISS does seem to have bigger touring plans in the cards, with Simmons noting that “We can be forever young and forever iconic by taking us to places we’ve never dreamed of before. The technology is going to make Paul jump higher than he’s ever done before.”
Paul Stanley (the other OG KISS member, it’s complicated to say the least) figures KISS will never, ever, EVER stop.
“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.” he said.
I Want To Rock & Roll All Nite (And Forever)
Of course, the question is whether this is what should happen when bands age out of whatever time they choose to stop performing. While full details of KISS’ digital avatar setup are still a little up in the air, Angus did note to me that the ABBA version of sort-of-maybe-the-same-thing relies on a mix of recorded performances with the digital “Abbatars”, but also the presence of a live band providing most of the actual music being played.
I think it’s fair to say that KISS’ whole spectacle wasn’t built on complex musical mastery, but instead the spectacle of the event itself and the euphoria of the crowd, so finding musicians able to cover the instrument parts of a (presumably) KISS greatest hits catalog shouldn’t be that difficult.
But at that point, are you even going to see KISS at all? I’m not so sure.
To tie this into my own fandom, I’m a big Prince fan.
His very last tour, the “Piano & A Microphone” tour hit Australian shores in 2016, and I very much wanted to go… but the dates in Sydney clashed with work commitments that saw me in Barcelona for MWC.
I seriously considered flying down to Melbourne to catch his performance there, but worked out that the total cost, plus the fact I’d have to get a very early flight back to Sydney in order to get another flight onto Barcelona the same day was both too risky and far too expensive. I’m still kicking myself about that decision, years later.
I buy Prince merchandise – even the horribly expensive “special edition” album rereleases, sometimes to my chagrin — but would I want to see a “digital” Prince show with holographic little funky dude on stage while others covered his amazing guitar work?
Prince is a very good example of a performer who believed in the power of live music, actual live performances and the way that they can bring audiences together in special moments that live in precisely that time.
From prior chats to KISS loving friends of mine, going to an actual KISS concert was very much that kind of story too; while the band loved itself an explosive pyrotechnic from time to time to go with the thumping guitar work, it was about being there… and KISS being there too.
This doesn’t feel like that at all to me, though Gene Simmons cashing in on KISS however he can is 100% on brand. It can only be a matter of time before he’s a Fortnite skin too.
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