The music industry is struggling to make up its collective mind on how best to entice fans to spend their money — in stores, online and, this summer at least, in concert halls and arenas. Rock, pop, and hip hop fans have grown accustomed to props, videos — stuff — when they drop upwards of a hundred bucks for a show.
Icelandic singer Jonsi, of Sigur Ros, has come up with an interesting twist. He plays small theaters but has commissioned the London-based company Fifty Nine Productions to create a kind of movie in which he and his band perform. The company usually does opera and theater work. Working with Jonsi it's created visual stories to accompany the music. Nine projectors are hidden around the theater, linked to three servers. Images choreographed to the stories in the songs are projected onto the stage, a few props and the musicians — there are no screens. The idea is to make the music and the visuals one. (You can hear more about the concert here.)
But this raises interesting questions about the inherent spontaneity of music. With a show like this, there would seem to be no room for improvisation or an unplanned leap into the audience.
What do you want from a show? Is it about music (after all, you've got that on your iPod) or an experience? What IS the experience you crave when you go out to hear music? Is it being with hundreds (or dozens) of like-minded people sharing in the collective joy? Is it simply about hearing your favorite tunes? New music? Is it about the musicians expressing themselves on stage, no matter what they play?