Suicide Silence’s Virtual World Tour Livestream: Our Official Review!
Suicide Silence’s “virtual world tour” kicked off last night, in which the deathcore pioneers are livestreaming a series of full-production shows from a studio environment to one city at a time, with tickets available only to those in specific geographical areas. At $10 a pop, the value proposition feels right: way less than the $20-$30 you’d pay to see them IRL, but not so much that you’ll think twice about making the purchase. Each 45 minute set is followed by a livechat Q&A with the band of equal length, so at an hour and a half of total broadcast time you’ll be occupied for as long as you would on a usual night “out,” except without the added expense and hassle of going anywhere.
I am here to tell you that the experience is worth every bit the $10 I paid for it! Suicide Silence have bravely stepped up as pioneers in this format and they absolutely killed it, with every detail of the broadcast well thought-out and expertly executed. Mark my words: other bands will be doing this very, very soon.
First, the user experience. After buying my ticket for the “New York” show when the tour was announced, I immediately received an email with a link and password to use for the show. Last night at 7pm I searched for that email, logged in with no issues, and was immediately brought to the livestream page with a video embed and chat window. No extra clicking, no two-step verification, no bullshit: it was that easy! As it should be.
The broadcast began with five minutes of archival footage of the band goofing off on tour and such, a smart way to kick off a broadcast of this nature for folks like me who tuned in a couple minutes late. Soon enough a countdown timer took over the screen, and the band were off to the races.
Sitting in front of a screen watching an entire live concert in real time that I’ve paid for is not something I’ve done in my life. How exactly does one navigate the experience? Do folks watch on their TVs in their living rooms, on the couch, beer in hand? Lying in bed while watching on their phone? Is this a two-screen experience — show on the laptop, phone in hand for social media — like watching a sporting event on TV has become in recent years? I opted for a mix of the latter and getting some exercise in; may as well crank the ol’ weights while jamming to brutal breakdowns, ya know? I couldn’t resist posting a couple of videos to my Instagram story, just like in the old days before the world ended.
The band were set up in a horseshoe shape facing one another instead of facing the same direction in a typical stage configuration. If they can’t vibe off an audience, I imagine the thinking went, at least they can summon energy from one another.
And it worked! Dudes were AMPED to be playing, and they put every ounce of their beings into that performance! How much of that was first-show nerves and three months’ worth of pent up energy I can’t say, but I will tell you this: it was absolutely there. Typical show behavior — enthusiastic head-banging and rock poses, silly faces at the camera, audience call outs — were combined with tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment of the pandemic era, with frontman Eddie Hermida instructing viewers to “jump on your couches!”, “make sure your neighbors hear you!” and my personal favorite, “circle pit around your grandma!” followed by the sickest “bleh!” this side of the Hudson River. At one point Hermida joked, “This is when we’d do a wall of death. But instead, go grab a beer and come right back!” while later on bassist Dan Kenny winkingly flicked a pick right at the camera.
Hermida also threw in some local flair by shouting out some of the band’s favorite NYC venues they’ve played over the years. An extra layer of interactivity involved what I imagine was some kind of on-stage monitor displaying the livechat feed that the band members were able to see. At one point Hermida shouted out an audience member named Mario who said he’d destroyed his bedroom while moshing and fretted over how he’d explain it to his parents. Coronavirus era problem, nahmean?
Let me tell you something else about these shows: the production is SICK. There were at least two hand-held cameras in use (maybe more?), a stationary cam mounted behind Alex Lopez’s drum kit and another showing the full room. Whoever’s job it was to mix those shots in real time did a killer job, creating an engaging edit that always felt like it was focused in the right place. Shout out to the sound mix as well: it was crystal clear, no issues whatsoever. And the lights! Top notch. I’m glad Suicide Silence didn’t skimp on production, because if you’re gonna take on an undertaking like this it absolutely has to be done right.
The band utilized a number of custom graphics and animations for the broadcast — “Suicide Silence TV” bumpers and such — that made the experience feel seemless and wholly professional. The setlist was structured so the band played two songs at a time interspersed with pre-recorded comedy sketches featuring the band members. I like this format! It kept things moving and made sure the experience wasn’t too repetitive and homogenous. I won’t ruin the sketches for you if you’re planning on buying a ticket to a later tour date, so I’ll just say they were very, very well done.
The post-set Q&A was fun, featuring all five members sitting on a couch answering audience questions submitted in real time. I’m not sure if this format will work for future tours — it risks getting repetitive after a while — but for now it’s a nice touch. I’d also be really curious to know whether viewership numbers dropped after the live set ended or if most folks stuck around.
Cue Carrie Bradshaw voice: I couldn’t help but wonder how much this event cost to put on. A lot! In addition to the aforementioned five crew members (at least), there was a mod keeping things copacetic in the chat, and who knows who else behind the scenes. All those people need to be paid before the band members. And that’s not even taking into account all of the startup costs of building the custom website, the ticketing infrastructure and fees, the cost of the studio space, marketing, etc. How many tickets did this thing sell, and will it be worth it when a whole “tour” is said and done? Tough to know, but I reckon we’ll find out if Suicide Silence do this again (and if other bands follow).
That’s industry talk, though, and not really relevant to your experience. Here’s what you need to know for now: this show was fucking dope. Do not hesitate to buy a ticket if it’s “coming” to your town! It’s a fun way to spend an hour and a half of your evening, no commuting necessary, with drinks one-quarter the cost of an overpriced venue bar and an added dose of direct interactivity with the band you’d never get at an IRL show. Treat yourself right!
Here are a few crappy photos of the show I took with my phone, in keeping with making sure the experience is the most like real life as possible:
And here’s a recent video we did in which bassist Dan Kenny watches and reacts to fan covers on YouTube: