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Kiss became the first US band to go virtual

On Saturday night, Kiss performed the final performance of their “End of the Road” farewell tour at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden.

But as dedicated fans surely know, they would never give it up. Not exactly.

During their encore, the band’s current lineup (founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, as well as guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer) left the stage to reveal digital avatars of themselves. Following the transformation, the virtual Kiss turned into a performance of “God Gave Rock and Roll to You.”

Cutting-edge technology was used to open a new chapter for the rock band: after 50 years of Kiss, the band is now interested in a kind of digital immortality.

The avatars were created by George Lucas’ special effects company Industrial Light & Magic, in partnership with Pophouse Entertainment Group, co-founded by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus. The two companies recently teamed up for the “ABBA Voyage” show in London; here, fans were able to attend the Swedish band’s full concert performed by their digital avatars.

Per Sundin, CEO of Pophouse Entertainment, says this new technology allows Kiss to continue its legacy “forever.” He says the band wasn’t on stage during the virtual performance because that’s “the key” to future-seeking technology. “Kiss can have concerts in three cities on three different continents on the same night. This is what you can do with it.

Kiss performed in motion capture suits to create digital avatars of the group, depicted as a sort of superhero version of the group.

Experimenting with such technologies has become increasingly common in certain parts of the music industry. In October, K-pop star Mark Tuan partnered with Soul Machines to create an autonomously automated “digital twin” called “Digital Mark.” By doing so, Tuan became the first celebrity to add his likeness to OpenAI’s GPT integration, the artificial intelligence technology that allows fans to engage in one-on-one conversations with Tuan’s avatar.

K-pop girl group Aespa often performs alongside their digital avatars; The quartet is intended to be seen as an octave of digital twins. Another girl group, Eternity, consists entirely of virtual characters; no need for humans.

“What we’ve accomplished has been amazing, but it’s not enough. “The band deserves to live because the band is bigger than us,” Kiss frontman Paul Stanley said in a roundtable interview. “It’s exciting for us to take the next step and see Kiss immortalized.”

“We can be forever young and forever iconic, taking ourselves to places we’ve never imagined before,” added Kiss bassist Gene Simmons. “The technology will enable Paul to jump higher than ever before.”

For those who can’t make it to the Madison Square Garden show, stay tuned because a Kiss avatar concert may be on the way

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