Photography by Andy Xu. Header image by NOYS VR.
This article is part of our GIGsoup in Hamburg series! Make sure to check Zoe Anderson’s page for more coverage!
Hamburg can be a city of contrasts, but it is, undoubtedly, one that embraces music in all its forms. During our amazing week, GIGsoup ambled around the Composers Quarter, crammed into the sweaty caverns of the Golden Pudel Club and drank wine on the balcony of the amazing Elbphilharmonie concert hall. It seemed only fitting that we spend our last day in this tiny, treasure of a city looking at its musical future.
Kicking off our day, we took a trip to the northern reaches of Hamburg to visit a majestic planetarium nestled in the centre of Stadt Park. Walking through the leafy, late-summer green, one could almost forget about the hustle and bustle of the city to the south. Many visitors around us apparently saw this serene park the same way and could be seen playing out in open fields or paddle boarding out on the lake.
The Hamburg Planetarium was adapted from a decommissioned 20th-century water tower, and now houses a large projection dome and multiple educational spaces. The skeleton of the tower is visible at the ground level, with exposed concrete from 1910 on public display. More recently, the planetarium has broadened its programming significantly, partnering with artists and musicians to create unique pieces that complement this incredible space. This year, the planetarium partnered with locally run, Kampnagel Sommer Festival (read about that here), and displayed a range of audio-visual pieces that use the full 360-degree offered by the planetarium’s projection domeGIGsoup was treated to a visual retelling of Pink Floyd’s iconic ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. This visual feast takes the viewer through strange lunar landscapes, and colourful alternative realities utilizing the space and its 80 loudspeakers. Other partners have included the local Reeperbahn, with events in the venue numbering into the 200’s every year.
Returning from the Moon, we were in sunlight once more and made our way back down into Hamburg’s watery centre to check out some more locally-grown musical innovation. Hamburg’s VR Headquarters can be found down a small side street, past the din of the local construction work, in a large warehouse complex. NOYS VR is a new, radical concert experience that places the player/listener within a series of incredible virtual-stage environments. Of course, in virtual reality, anything is possible, so these live-music experiences come with some fantastical elements that made us gasp in their creativity. From flying goldfish to a city shaped like a giant wheel, punters are invited to walk around in these incredible landscapes and get to know their fellow audience members. “It’s really interesting to see how players interact with each other,” said Fabio, one of the creators of NOYS.
“We once had a five-year-old and an 80-year-old enter one of the games together. They interacted with each other in the game, and when they logged out, it was so sweet to see them share their experiences with one another. Completely different generations talking about what they just went through together”.
In-game shots provided by NOYS VR
In the last five years, VR has, progressed rapidly and looks to be more affordable than ever. As the price of high-quality headsets drop, GIGsoup wonders if this could be the future of not only gaming but how listeners will consume music. The ability to teleport to a fantasy land of sonic wonder is certainly one that will appeal to many, as well as the ability to defy geography to see your favourite musicians. For anyone that has been put-off by previous cardboard headset versions of VR, don’t dismiss this medium, it’s likely the future of entertainment in all it’s forms.