Virtual Reality Lounges Are Coming to Toronto. So What Does That Mean For Music?

Virtual reality used to be the stuff of science fiction, but not anymore. Tech savvy businesses and pop-ups are bringing 360 viewing to the real world, and in more accessible ways. VR headsets typically cost several hundred dollars and require plenty of space to move around, but lounges dedicated to the devices are becoming more popular. It’s much cheaper to experience the new technology for a few hours at a time. Plus, not everyone can spare an entire room to the device.

For example, the hip and modern House of VR was just announced in Toronto. The business focuses on sharing VR immersions that go beyond just video games. Licensed live sports, virtual tourism experiences, and educational workshops are just some of the offerings.  But when they come to town, what can a music lover get out of a VR lounge?

Music Video Games

Obviously, video games are a huge application for VR. Who wouldn’t want to shoot zombies or explore tombs in a fully immersive world? Lately music game developers have been catching on as well, creating games tailor-made for the VR experience.

Remember Guitar Hero and Rock Band, those games made popular by plastic peripherals and phenomenal track lists? Well, Rock Band developer Harmonix has released a Rock Band VR game to take full advantage of the technology. The game puts you on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans while shredding on your plastic guitar – cool, right?

There’s also more simplistic rhythm games like Audioshield that turns your music into a full-body experience. Orbs generated by the tracks you choose fly at your face, and it’s up to you to block them. More difficult tracks mean more movement and action – a totally unique way to interact with your music.

Music Videos

Filmmakers have been tinkering with 360 degree videos for a while now, especially with the popularity and ease of GoPro cameras. It’s one thing to see a video on a screen, but to turn your head and watch things unfold all around you? Wild! And of course, imaginative musicians and directors have been jumping on board, too.

The Weeknd created a VR video for his The Hills remix with Eminem. It’s got all sorts of little details that catch your eye: smoke swirling into shapes, figures dancing in the distance, and lights pulsing from limos. Watching it on your computer screen can be a bit overwhelming as all the action happens all at once, but in VR you can pick and choose what to concentrate on.

Other videos want to take you on a VR adventure that would otherwise be impossible. Take Squarepusher’s Stor Eiglass, for instance: it pops your head on an animated body as it travels through a fantastically trippy world. There’s all kinds of crazy CGI effects that you can watch as they pass you by – or rather, you pass them.

Live Concerts

“Oh my God, you have to see them live!” YouTube has done a fantastic job of letting you experience some of the concerts you weren’t able to see, but virtual reality lets you take it to a whole new level. Getting to turn your head and see what you want is a huge deal. And not worrying about when that phone will get dropped in the crowd is a huge bonus!

Avenged Sevenfold performed a free live-streamed concert last October from the roof of Capitol Records. Being able to tune in from anywhere in the world is a neat experience already, but the band also had a VR option available. You could watch them perform live, all around you, from the comfort of a headset. Want to see what the drummer is doing during a solo? Go for it. Curious about the gear setup? Lean in to the guitarist’s pedalboard to get a better look. Of course, it all matters on where the cameras are placed, but VR concerts are some of the newest developments so there’s still room to grow!

Where else could VR take music? It’s still such a new technology that the possibilities seem endless. Will we get to interact with DJs during their sets? Meet up in virtual jam spaces? Experience a Beyonce concert from Queen Bey’s eyes? With more lounges opening up around the world and making it a lucrative form of entertainment, you can be sure clever artists will find new ways – only seems like a matter of time!


Mathew Kahansky

Once upon a time, Mat studied journalism. That's how he became Alan's one-time intern and current-time contributor, and the rest is ongoing history - get it? Mat also studied biology and music, so he has a strangely specific knowledge set that doesn't really apply anywhere other than useless fun facts. He currently works for a music tech start-up in Halifax, and is a big fan of the em dash.

Mathew Kahansky has 297 posts and counting. See all posts by Mathew Kahansky

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