Houston, we have a gig

Updated: 14 July, 2020 10:14 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

Billed as a real-time 3D event, a new virtual concert is set in an animated space station with DJs dressed as astronauts

The music industry is in a situation where it is being forced to explore uncharted territory, and an events group called Transhuman Collective has taken that message quite literally with their debut online festival, Unrated. In it, the audience will enter an animated 3D world set inside a space station. The story starts off from the launch site on Earth, where a narrator ushers people into the rocket that will fly them to the station in outer space that is the venue for the concert, and where astronaut avatars of the performing DJs will put up a show that promises to be out of this world, pun intended. The entire experience will be presented in augmented reality. And just like a movie has a soundtrack dedicated to it, here, it's a body of music that will be presented with the aid of a cinematic experience.

The entire effort is aimed at figuring out new ways of functioning within the digital realm, which is the space that the music business sees itself occupying in the near future. Transhuman Collective co-founder Soham Sarcar tells us, "The main catalyst behind Unrated was creating new ways of functioning for artistes to connect with their audiences. The concert will be streamed on the Twitch and Vimeo sites. We work in the experiential events industry, and got together a team of musicians, visual mappers and graffiti artistes we have collaborated with over the past 10 years. There are no commercials involved for us, though the audience can donate money directly to Give India since we are running a corollary campaign called Mission Million to provide PPE kits to doctors across India. On our part, we want to provide something new so that later on, brands can come on board and use this platform to create their own experiences."

Houston, we have a gig

So, his eye is on the future. Sarcar tells us that eventually, he wants to curate virtual experiences where you can hang out online with your friends while listening to music, like you would do at a physical gig, and even order, say, a pizza from the event's website itself, which would then be delivered to your doorstep. He's also mulling the idea of using VR headsets for enhanced quality. But the problem there is that only a handful of people have access to such devices in India at the moment. Nonetheless, Sarcar says that his immediate efforts will remain focused on bridging the gap between watching a show live offline, and doing the same on the Internet.

Nathan Thomas aka Nate08
Nathan Thomas aka Nate08

"We can't ever go and achieve that completely," he admits. Nathan Thomas aka Nate08, a producer who's part of the line-up for Unrated along with other DJs like Calm Chor and Ash Roy, corroborates this viewpoint. "I am not the biggest fan of the online scene since it's not as engaging," he confesses. And that's why Sarcar adds that his efforts aren't quite directed towards giving viewers a feel that they are listening to a live concert. Instead, he means to create absorbing content around the music. Unrated will thus also have visual and graffiti artistes performing alongside the DJs. "So, it's a wholesome enactment of the underlying story about the journey into space," Sarcar tells us, while conjecturing that two years from now, there might be shows on OTT platforms like Netflix where musicians are playing a live concert, but with images to accompany the songs in the form of a concept video that further engages viewers. That's not the ideal scenario, though. Preferably, Sarcar says, he would like for things to return to where they were, while Thomas also holds out the same hope. There's nothing that can match the visceral joy of a quality live concert, the latter says. But when will we be able to attend one in a physical space again? Your guess is as good as ours, honestly.

On July 18 and 19, 6 pm
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First Published: 14 July, 2020 09:21 IST

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