PARK CITY, Utah – I never thought I’d ever say this, but I’m onstage with Beck. He’s wearing his usual hat-and-blazer combo, and covering one of my favorite David Bowie songs. Out past the crowd is a full choir — a few faces I recognize because they played with Beck during last year’s Station to Station rolling art extravaganza — and a massive musical ensemble. People are cheering and taking photos. It’s incredible. Then I look down. Instead of seeing knees or feet, I see Beck’s Chelsea boots.
That’s when my brain reminds me I’m not actually on stage.
Instead, I’m sitting in a chair at the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier installation, wearing an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. I’m watching a retooled version of the 360-degree interactive videoof Beck’s live performance of “Sound and Vision” that he and Chris Milk made for Lincoln last year. My I’m-a-rockstar dream is shattered, but it’s possible that this might actually be cooler than performing with a folk hero — I get to have all the fun of performing without worrying about singing off-key or being incapacitated by stage fright.
“The first time I tried Chris Milk’s Beck experience in VR, it fundamentally changed the way I thought about, frankly, audio in VR,” says Nate Mitchell, Oculus’ vice president of product, “and the impact a live concert could have on me in virtual reality.”