I remember my first Boiler Room set clearly. Like most people, I wasn’t there in person. Instead, I was watching it online alongside thousands of others, huddled in the comfort of my blanket dome with headphones clasped over my ears. I was late to the Boiler Room bandwagon—though I heard whispers about its nomadic warehouse-dwelling shows as far back as 2011—but here I was in the year 2014, finally catching a stream as it aired of Les Sins performing, a.k.a. Toro Y Moi, a.k.a. Chazwick Bundick. (Dude has a lot of aliases.) Les Sins played funky electronic music, and people awkwardly danced around him accordingly. The DJ set wasn’t anything special, but it felt raw in a way that other overproduced, slick concert movies aren’t and simply can’t be.
Amidst a new partnership with the VR entertainment creators Inception, now Boiler Room wants to bring shows even closer to viewers. After all, that’s always been the appeal of the internationally renown set broadcasting platform: watching a show you couldn’t attend otherwise, and feeling like you’re really there via its conveniently placed webcam. Now introducing VR into their winning equation, Boiler Room wants to further engrain the feeling of virtual event dwelling through an actual space retrofitted with 360-degree cameras for all the potential VR viewers at home.
an actual space retrofitted with 360-degree cameras for VR
“We’ve always been driven by using technology to showcase the music we care about and give fans all around the world an authentic experience of the events and scenes they can’t be part of in person,” said founder and CEO of Boiler Room Blaise Bellville in a press release. “Building the first ever music venue born for VR is a big evolution of that, creating immersive online experiences that bring people even closer to what it’s like being at a sweaty rave or an amazing concert half-way across the world.”
Boiler Room, as a broadcasting platform, has always put the spotlight on the underground electronic scene, with other genres like hip-hop and contemporary classical being explored in its more recent years. Everything from the sweet harsh noise of Boris to the alternative Japan-based grime scene has helped usher Boiler Room into something like counterculture-prominence. Or at least, popular in terms of netizens.
“As with the vast majority of people aware of Boiler Room, familiarity stems from those hyped early years,” wrote Boiler Room’s Deputy Editor Gabriel Szatan in an article on i-D in 2015. “Secret locations and scathing chatrooms; Jamie xx and James Blake doing sets; notoriety for crowd displays of gawkiness, exuberance, disaffection, or some combination of the three and all this raw, chaotic, energy available at your fingertips. Those days are long gone.” Boiler Room’s been adapting their focus for a little while now, venturing beyond lone set streams to fully produced mini-documentaries and more. VR’s the logical next step for what’s essentially the new MTV for the music hungry Snapchat Generation. Slightly anarchic, a little rough around the edges, a gateway to your next favorite musician, and now, it’s ready for VR.
Boiler Room’s London-bound VR venue will be open sometime in early 2017, with updates to come subsequently after.