KISS Reveal New Era of Band as Avatars During Final New York City Show

At the close of their final live performance in their hometown of New York City at Madison Square Garden (MSG) on Saturday (December 2), KISS revealed the new era of the band after retiring from touring. Though the band has ended their physical live performances after 50 years, they will continue in digital form as avatars.

Closing the band’s farewell The End Of The Road Tour, KISS ended their two-hour set by performing their 1975 hit “Rock and Roll All Nite” one last time before a video played for the sold-out crowd at MSG. Set to KISS’ 1991 hit, and Argent cover, “God Gave Rock and Roll to You,” the music video revealed all four members—Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer—in their new digitized form.

In partnership with the Swedish entertainment company Pophouse Entertainment Group, which previously produced digital concerts for ABBA in 2022, KISS shared a glimpse of what is to come when the band is immortalized as the first U.S. band to go fully virtual and stage an avatar show.

Videos by American Songwriter

Gene Simmons becoming an avatar (Photo: Pophouse Entertainment Group)

Created by the George Lucas-founded visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the company worked directly with KISS to capture each band member’s facial expressions and body movements while performing for their upcoming shows. The KISS avatar shows will be the second immersive, avatar-powered music event produced by Pophouse following ABBA Voyage.

[RELATED: KISS’ Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons Talk Songwriting with American Songwriter]

Simmons and Stanley, along with Per Sundin, CEO of Pophouse Entertainment, Thierry Coup, creative director of JOCOUP Creative, and Grady Cofer, VFX Supervisor at ILM, recently discussed the band’s forthcoming avatars in a roundtable discussion.

“We can be forever young and forever iconic by taking us to places we’ve never dreamed of before,” said Simmons. “The technology is going to make Paul jump higher than he’s ever done before.”   

The band still has more to accomplish after 50 years, according to Stanley. “What we’ve accomplished has been amazing, but it’s not enough,” said Stanley. “The band deserves to live on because the band is bigger than we are. It’s exciting for us to go the next step and see KISS immortalized. I mean, we’ve spent 50 years building it to this point.”

KISS Avatar Rendering (Photo: Courtesy of Pophouse Entertainment) Group

Stanley continued, “And by working with ILM and working with Pophouse, we’re all sharing this vision of taking KISS to a completely different level beyond being just a music band. And we’ve always thought of ourselves as more than just a music band.”  

[RELATED: 2023 January/February Cover Story: Interview with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons – ‘Forever and Ever’]

Before the band’s final two concerts at MSG on December 1 and 2, the KISS NYC Takeover, a series of events throughout the city, commemorated the band’s 50-year history, including special Rangers-KISS merchandise at a recent hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday (November 29). A day later, New York City Mayor Eric Adams also declared November 30 KISS Day in the city.

To celebrate KISS Day, a multimedia music-to-light show was also presented by the Empire State Building from dusk through 2 a.m. ET, set to “Rock and Roll All Nite.” A series of KISS-branded digital ads were on display throughout Penn Station, along with collectible KISS-designed Metro Cards, which were also available for purchase at the Herald Square train station.

“Pophouse Entertainment Group is thrilled to embark on this transformative journey with KISS, and showcase to fans what is on the horizon as part of future avatar [shows],” said Sundin of Pophouse in a statement. “Our partnership will fuse the rich history and iconic status of KISS with cutting-edge technology, allowing fans, now and in the future, to experience the band like never before.”  

Photo: KISS Avatar Rendering, Courtesy of Pophouse Entertainment Group

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