VR performances suddenly seem incredibly relevant in a world still grappling with COVID-19 and the Astroworld tragedy.
Tashya Jackson and her trio of friends were concert newbies before getting up close and personal with Megan Thee Stallion over the weekend. They were front row as the Houston rapper performed a few songs.
"She really popped it off," Jackson says.
"You’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re right there, I can see you'," added Niya Ridgell.
But a quick look online reveals Megan was performing in Baltimore over the weekend. So did Jackson and her friends get duped in Houston?
Local fans indeed saw Megan, and she was so close you could almost touch the curls in her hair. But the show was part of Enter Thee Hottieverse, a virtual reality from AmazeVR experience that's currently touring the country. It was at the AMC Willowbrook 24 over the weekend.
Concert purists may scoff. But VR performances suddenly seem incredibly relevant in a world still grappling with COVID-19 and the Astroworld tragedy. No long lines. No sweaty crowds. No personal space invasion.
Upon entering the theater, employees offer a “Welcome, Hottie," amid whoops and screams. Megan videos play on the screen as a clock counts down to your entrance to "thee hottieverse."
"Come on now y’all are Megan’s hometown," challenges a host before the VR experience begins.
Headset are passed out that you must tighten around your eyes and calibrate. It's a pretty easy process. Megan then appears in a variety of outfits for a quartet of songs, including "Savage," "Body" and "Kity Kat." Guests are encouraged to sing along and dance (but remain mindful on who's around you).
The technology is impressive, a fully immersive 360 experience. You're able to see the detail on Megan's eyeshadow and the texture of her bodysuits as she dances right in front of you. She's always staring directly at you and at times comes so close you move back by instinct.
"She is right there in your face, which I would argue a lot of people don’t have that opportunity in any real concert experience," says Joseph Choi, AmazeVR's senior business operations manager.
Megan's performances were filmed live, then superimposed onto a computer graphics background. The entire show runs about 20 minutes. That may seem short, but those headsets can get uncomfortable after much longer.
It may not replace a real concert experience. But it's certainly an experience in and of itself.
"I didn’t expect anything from it," says Damion Jones. "But the VR concert was super fun. It was really, really cool.
"Enter Thee Hottieverse" is currently on tour through July.