From both a tech and visual standpoint, concerts are getting ridiculous.
The reasons behind this are two-fold. For one, social media, Instagram in particular, has altered the concert landscape. Artists and the teams that conceive their stage megastructures and laser-heavy light shows base designs not just for those in attendance but for those who watch their friends’ videos on social media. In other words, you gotta make it look good on the ‘Gram
The other reason is that tech is finally at a point where stage designs that were once pipe dreams are now a reality. There is no better example of that than Eric Prydz’s EPIC 6.0 Holosphere. The Holosphere is a jaw-dropping, multi-level, spherical Death Star-esque stage prop that took Prydz and his team two years to create—and it only lasted one show.
The EDM Kitchen Sink
Attendees of Tomorrowland in Belgium earlier this year probably saw something huge. No, not Shaq in the moshpit, but Eric Prydz’s Holosphere. Describing how the Holosphere works in practice is simple. It’s a huge transparent ball with a bunch of screens and lights. Prydz performs inside the ball. When lit up, the audience only sees the ball as the Holosphere completely obscures the DJ. Its shape opens up new possibilities for presenting visuals in an astonishing, novel way.
The tech behind the ball isn’t as cut and dry. “We wanted to use the technology that now is available that wasn’t available then,” Prydz told The Verge, “and try and do something different and more exciting.”
That included throwing in the kitchen sink when it came to designing the Holosphere. The massive structure consisted of 72 panels, 2.4 million LEDs, 301 square meters of LED panels, 17,840 LED strips, 16-millimeter pixel pitch, 150 laser diodes, and 545 lighting fixtures. The final Holosphere clocked in at five tons and eight meters wide.
At Least We Have YouTube…
Accommodating the Holosphere required Tomorrowland to redesign its grounds. This is not an easy request for a major festival. Earlier this year, Kanye asked Coachella to construct a dome for his headlining performance. Ultimately, Coachella passed on building the dome. Doing so was cost-prohibitive and would have altered the landscape of the festival grounds beyond reason. Coachella finally allowed Kanye to perform on a hill on Sunday morning of weekend two. Not the same as “Domechella.” The saga, though, illustrates how impressive of a feat Holosphere is.
Moreover, temporary festival stages aren’t typically equipped to support a structure like the Holosphere. Even though that might be the case, Tomorrowland made the necessary changes and Prydz’s performance in the Holosphere for weekend one went off without any mishaps. Unfortunately, the Holosphere only showed up for one performance after Tomorrowland announced that a part of the stage ceiling had sunk, effectively canceling its second appearance.
“They had issues with the roof of the Freedom stage and decided to close the entire arena. We were absolutely devastated, especially as it was a situation beyond our control, but safety is always paramount,” said Prydz’s manager Michael Sershall in a statement.
In a way, the fact that the Holosphere happened once only adds to its mystique. The show established itself as a legitimate once-in-a-lifetime performance and potentially a major turning point in concert technology. According to Prydz, there may never be another Holosphere performance. At least this is why we have YouTube.