Rock and roll never dies, and neither does the band KISS.
At the conclusion of their farewell concert at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday night, the rock band debuted their new digital avatars — ones that will ensure KISS can continue to tour, long after the stars have retired.
The avatars, made by the same people who designed the digitized ABBA concert series, took over the band’s encore performance of God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You. After the actual KISS band members exited the stage, their giant, better-than-holographic counterparts continued to rock on, flying on demon wings, breathing fire and shooting lightning bolts from their fingers.
KISS’ current line-up features original members Gene Simmons, 74, and Paul Stanley, 71, as well as late joiners Eric Singer, 65, and Tommy Thayer, 63.
The KISS avatars were created using data from motion-capture suits worn by the band members earlier this year.
The avatars are three-dimensional and approximately eight feet tall. Using pyrotechnics, lasers and other special effects, the avatars are dramatic and made to resemble the rockers in their younger years. Despite being digital, the avatars play instruments and sing, as well as dance a little more nimbly than the real-life members.
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In a promotional video shared after the band’s final concert Saturday night, Gene Simmons said the avatars would allow KISS to be “forever young and forever iconic.”
For Simmons, KISS transcends age. He said three different generations of fans can often be spotted at the band’s concerts.
Frontman Paul Stanley championed the avatars as a “culmination of 50 years” of the band’s history. He said the avatars will fuse “reality and a created reality to play with people’s perception of what’s real and what’s not real.”
“I think we’ve transcended over the years being human beings, and here we are becoming immortal,” Stanley said of KISS. “It couldn’t be more exciting.”
Stanley noted that he and his bandmates cannot maintain their success on stage indefinitely, but their avatars can. The band members hoped, with their avatars, they could continue to bring KISS to new generations of rock and roll fans.
“The technology is going to make Paul jump higher than he’s ever done before,” Simmons described.
“And it won’t hurt!” Stanley quipped.
“What we’ve accomplished has been amazing, but it’s not enough,” Stanley continued. “The band deserves to live on because the band is bigger than we are.”
The avatars were designed by George Lucas’ special effects company Industrial Light & Magic in partnership with the Swedish group Pophouse Entertainment. Their digitized concert series starring ABBA’s avatars in London earlier this year reportedly made more than US$2 million (about C$2.7 million) a week.
It is not yet clear how the KISS avatars will be used, or if like ABBA, they will have their own concert series. The BBC reported it is not yet known if former KISS members like Peter Criss and Ace Frehley will be included among the avatars.
KISS’ final tour began four years ago, but only concluded last week after delays to do with COVID-19 restrictions and Stanley’s health. This was KISS’ second farewell tour, with the first in 2001.
Highlights from the Vancouver Kiss concert
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