KISS, the iconic rock band that has captivated audiences with electrifying live performances over a remarkable 50-year career and achieved sales exceeding 100 million records globally, is bidding farewell to its physical existence and embracing a groundbreaking venture into the digital realm
The historic moment took place at 11 p.m. EST on Saturday, December 2, at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, marking the conclusion of the final live tour, “End Of The Road.” In a surprise on-stage transition, the band handed over the reins to their new digital avatars, which delivered an encore performance of “God Gave Rock And Roll To You.” This symbolic passing of the torch signifies the withdrawal of the flesh and blood group while signaling the initiation of the KISS journey into a new era. The transformation into avatars not only immortalizes KISS but also pushes the boundaries of rock and roll performances, a tradition the band has upheld throughout its illustrious career.
Developed in collaboration with Pophouse Entertainment Group, the Swedish entertainment company known for its innovative contributions to brand-building enterprises in music and entertainment, this groundbreaking performance unveils plans for a future where KISS avatars will continue to enthrall fans for decades. The avatars, fashioned as fantasy-based superheroes, offer a glimpse into the diverse ways KISS plans to endure as digital performers in the years ahead.
The creation of the KISS avatars is attributed to Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the visual effects company founded by George Lucas and a division of Lucasfilm. Utilizing advanced performance-capture technology, ILM captured the band’s face and body performances, providing the foundation for the avatars. Combined with ILM‘s artistry and machine learning technology, this innovation ensures the everlasting presence of the creative essence of KISS. ILM, renowned for its contributions to iconic movies and franchises such as “Star Wars” and the Marvel cinematic universe, brings its expertise to the realm of music, establishing a new paradigm for avatar-powered performances.
Following the band’s physical farewell, Pophouse Entertainment Group will champion the KISS legacy, spearheading the immersive avatar-powered music concert project. This venture follows the success of the “ABBA Voyage” show in London, where Pophouse is the lead investor. Thierry Coup, former chief creative officer at Universal Destinations & Experiences, has been announced as the creative director of the upcoming avatar show.
In conjunction with the unveiling of their digital transformation, KISS members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons participated in a special discussion alongside Per Sundin (Pophouse Entertainment CEO), Thierry Coup (creative director, JOCOUP Creative), and Grady Cofer (VFX supervisor, ILM). The conversation delved into the band’s history and the inspiration behind their move into innovative avatar-powered performances.
In the discussion, Simmons comments that through partnering with ILM and Pophouse Entertainment: “We can be forever young and forever iconic by taking us to places we’ve never dreamed of before. The technology is going to make Paul jump higher than he’s ever done before.”
During the conversation, Stanley comments: “What we’ve accomplished has been amazing, but it’s not enough. The band deserves to live on because the band is bigger than we are.” He later adds: “It’s exciting for us to go the next step and see KISS immortalized. I mean, we’ve spent 50 years building it to this point. And by working with ILM and working with Pophouse, we’re all sharing this vision of taking KISS to a completely different level beyond being just a music band. And we’ve always thought of ourselves as more than just a music band.”
Sundin comments: “Pophouse Entertainment Group is thrilled to embark on this transformative journey with KISS, and showcase to fans what is on the horizon as part of future avatar show. Our partnership will fuse the rich history and iconic status of KISS with cutting-edge technology, allowing fans — now and in the future — to experience the band like never before.”
Beyond the avatar shows, KISS will persist through various ventures, including a KISS museum in Las Vegas, KISS cruises, an upcoming movie, and a cartoon show. This multifaceted approach ensures that the legacy of KISS remains vibrant and relevant across different mediums.
Pophouse Entertainment, co-founded by ABBA‘s Björn Ulvaeus in 2014, initially aimed to create unique live events promoting the ABBA brand. Since then, it has expanded into various venue, event, and media ventures. The purpose-built venue and technology delivering the “ABBA Voyage” concerts reportedly incurred a cost of approximately $175 million before opening in May 2022. Within 15 months, the show amassed over $150 million in sales and sold more than 1.5 million tickets, underscoring its tremendous success.