At SXSW this year ESMZ unveiled "Somewhere" in a church, for the very first time, and now you can watch the performance in glorious virtual reality and pretend you were there.
Virtual reality has come a long way since Lawnmower Man. Remember that movie? Anyone? Anyway. If you've had a chance to dabble with VR it's quite the trip. You can swim under the sea! You can star in your own horror film and get wheeled around an insane asylum. It's bizarre and amazing and it's starting to be utilized more widely by musicians: Bjork's excellent "Stonemilker" video from last year being an excellent case in point when she stood on the wild and barren wilds of the Icelandic coast and sang her heart out. This move makes total sense given our generation's voracity for immediacy, technolog, and total immersion. If you can't go to a show, maybe you can stream it online. And if you can watch it online then maybe you can see it all in glorious 360, so even if you're stuck on a mountain in Montana, you can feel like you're really there.
Earlier this year Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros released their fourth record PersonA, a collection recorded in one room in New Orleans. Just a month before its release the LA-based band performed at SXSW at the Central Presbyterian Church. There they performed "Somewhere" for the very first time—a song that's beautiful and summery as "Here Comes the Sun"—and this moment was captured thanks to GoPro in headspinning VR, which we're premiering below. You can view the performance from every angle: from the band's perspective, from the audience's, you can gaze up, you can swivel round.
"This performance was a bit of a miracle," explains singer Alex Ebert. "We'd never played any of this stuff live and there we were making a big deal of it in front of a packed church—documenting it in virtual reality. Thank goodness we did. This song was one of those bursts of song, much of it written in just a minute or two, and is about the time I drove straight through from LA to New Orleans, rushing to get to my daughter's birth in time. So much time to reflect on the past and envision the future on that endless road."