K-pop girl group (G)I-DLE held its first ever VR concert, and my reaction can be best summed up by the title of my favorite song of theirs: "Oh my god".
It's hard to describe just how immersive a VR concert is if you haven't experienced it first-hand. It just so happened that I availed of PICO Malaysia's Christmas promo for the PICO 4, which is my very first VR headset. So I was pleasantly surprised to find out later from their Facebook page that (G)I-DLE was holding its first VR concert and that this would be streamed for free exclusively to PICO owners in 10 countries, which happily included Malaysia, where I'm now based.
Concert in your living room
Composed of Miyeon, Minnie, Soyeon, Yuqi, and Shuhua, (G)I-DLE is a fourth generation K-pop girl group under Cube Entertainment. They performed 10 songs in their hour-long VR consist. These are, in order: "Nxde", "Señorita", "LATATA", "DUMDi DUMDi", "HWAA", "Oh my god", "MY BAG", "Never Stop Me', "Uh-Oh", and "Tomboy".
Check out these four screen recordings I took.
One of the awesome things about the PICO 4 is that it's a very lightweight VR headset. I hardly felt it while wearing it for an hour, which made the VR concert an even more immersive experience.
It's as if you have a front row seat to their concert. And because you're in a 360-degree VR environment, you can easily change camera angles, and even choose to see the virtual crowd that's watching and cheering with you.
The effects are equally stunning: from pyro, to snow, to light shows. And all throughout the VR concert, the natural charisma of the five members shines through – something technology can't replicate.
The interactive features via the PICO 4 controllers are also a nice touch. You can manipulate the buttons to use a virtual version of (G)I-DLE's official light stick, send messages (though of course the concert isn't live, so there's no actual interaction with fans) or emojis, and take photos.
Your VR headset also gives you the ability to take screenshots and screen recordings of your virtual environment.
To VR or not to VR?
All in all, (G)I-DLE's first VR concert was a highly enjoyable experience, and I'm raring to watch it again on demand.
Do I think that VR concerts can replace real-life ones? That's the wrong question to ask. It's not either/or, but both/and.
VR concerts are a great way for music artists to experiment and offer new experiences to their fans. VR and real concerts have their own strengths, and of course not everyone will enjoy VR concerts. Nor can every music fan afford to buy a VR headset.
In fact, we might see VR concerts becoming one of the killer apps for VR headsets, as part of the exclusive content that will encourage users to choose one brand over the other. Much like exclusive titles can determine which game console you'll buy.
Technology is continuing to push the boundaries. Last year, we saw metaverse concerts inside video games flourishing, to the point that the MTV Video Music Awards added a category for "Best Metaverse Performance".
Last year also saw the legendary ABBA make an unlikely comeback on the concert stage, courtesy of their digital avatars, or ABBAtars.
This is just the beginning, and I can't wait to see how concerts – and entertainment in general – will continue to evolve.
The future is already here. We just need to open our eyes and see.