Missing the gig experience – TICK
Missing the atmosphere – TICK
Missing the live show full stop – TICK
Want an experience to take you back to an immersive, live feeling ? – HELL YES !
This was the first time I’d heard of Melody VR and the first time I’d tried to immerse myself in a live streamed show that wasn’t simply watching multiple camera angles chosen by someone nowhere near to me. If you own an Oculus Rift VR headset, you can watch this in all its glory as if you’re stood in the centre of the floor at Brixton Academy. If, like me, you don’t own an Oculus headset you still have the opportunity to be part of a VR experience with the iOS and Android apps.
With the iOS app loaded up on my iPhone I was able to dive into a 90 minute Frank show, with multiple views on offer, stage left, stage right, behind the band, front of house [back in the pit for the first time since March 2020] and an option ‘Director’s Cut’ that kept switching based on someone in the know who knew just when to switch for the best angles.
The beauty of each of the camera options is that they are not static locations. Each one offers a 360 degree view from that initial point, be it around the Academy floor (empty bar the clever placement of lights to give the darkness some interesting visuals) the centre of the stage, the wall of screens showing viewers watching the gig and being part of proceedings. Simply swipe away at the phone screen and the view around us suddenly makes it feel as if we are there. It’s that element that is missing from standard streaming exercises and one that gives the MelodyVR experience a huge thumbs up as, for the first time in months, it feels like I’m back at Brixton. Instead of watching the TV, this is akin to getting lost in a great book and being part of the whole performance thanks to you imagination opening the door and letting you in. Kudos to the team at MelodyVR as it’s a feeling I’ve not experienced in a long time and this is something special.
BUT, there is of course a small matter of a gig to discuss. If you don’t know them, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are an English punk rock band formed in 2015 by frontman Frank Carter with guitarist Dean Richardson. The band released their debut album Blossom in 2015, and the follow-ups Modern Ruin in 2017 and End of Suffering in 2019.
Carter, if you know your history was part of Gallows and left in 2011 to pursue alternative avenues and after forming power pop outfit Pure Love, the formation of The Rattlesnakes and their subsequent trio of albums has seen the band charts successively higher with each release. The latest, End of Suffering, peaked at #4 on the UK album charts.
If this was a ‘be there in person gig’ it would have sold out ages ago such is the pulling power of the band nowadays and even virtually, ticket sales were hugely impressive, in no small part to the fact that it can be a global audience watching rather than those that can get to Brixton Academy on a Friday night.
15 solid tunes and the sort of energy you’d expect to be reserved for when you have 5,500 people standing in front of you in person, the band pull no punches when delivering the goods to the online crowds. Sure the lack of “cheering” was still an issue for a streamed gig. Would I prefer piped cheers , the same way US sitcoms pipe in the laughter? I’m not sure. But it’s a minor niggle as Frank interacts well with the crowd on the video screens behind the band, getting them to turn on their mics and say hello etc.. Some work, some fail laughably when the fans can’t believe they’ve been picked and fail dismally at switching on the mic for a natter. No matter though because the saving grace is Frank’s Mum who’s joined us for the show and she’s up there on screen giving her lad the sort of support we all need right now during these tough times.
I can’t pick a favourite from the set list to highlight but I can say the gig finished leaving me with the biggest of grins on my face. This felt like a gig, had the energy of gig and whilst I didn’t end up sweating buckets and sticky from flying beer, it was still more of an experience than other virtual shows have managed to achieve over the summer.
Kudos to MelodyVR for the efforts on their part, shout out to Frank and the rest of the Rattlesnakes for a blinding effort with more energy than a nuclear sun could muster on an average day. Give the platform a go. They have multiple gigs coming up and whilst they’ve been around for a while, this is the time for this sort of virtual entertainment to really take off. [NB: You need a PSVR option. It’s the most popular VR headset in the UK so give the masses what they need – well, me anyway!]
Tyrant Lizard King
Fire (Live debut; the Blossom deluxe edition)
Why A Butterfly Can’t Love A Spider
Devil Inside Me
I Hate You (dedicated to coronavirus…)