In difficult times where the music industry has suffered a considerable blow due to the social distancing measures derived from the COVID-19 pandemic, major tours were forced to be postponed or cancelled. Cutting the income from the live performances of many great bands, including Suicide Silence.
After the release of their great album Become The Hunter in early 2020, Suicide Silence already had everything set for a huge promotional tour for this album, but the emergency caused by COVID-19 forced the band to put these plans on hold.
Throughout their career, Suicide Silence has been characterized by overcoming adversity multiple times even when many stop believing in them. Proof of this are the various events they had to go through in the past, such as the loss of their frontman the late great Mitch Lucker, and the multiple criticisms towards their self-titled album released in 2017. Despite everything, they always find a way to return stronger, giving them a growing reputation of «Comeback Kings» of the Metal scene. Which is why facing another difficulty it’s nothing new for them.
This time, they face an unprecedented pandemic that has brought not only the music industry but also the world to its knees, but how do they resurface this time with a new album on their shoulders and without being able to go on tour? Announcing the Virtual World Tour 2020.
During these uncertain times that put live performances out of the equation, artists have had to reinvent themselves and digitalize their content in order to get closer to the audience, but Suicide Silence takes things to a new level by pioneering this virtual tour format. But what exactly is a virtual world tour?
In theory the concept is simple and at the same time innovative; There are 39 live shows, each one directed to a US state or country where the virtual ticket has a price of $10, with which you can enjoy an hour and a half streaming that includes a concert, extra audiovisual material and a Q&A session with all the band members. In addition to discounts to buy official merch from Suicide Silence store. Also, each ticket participates in a ESP guitar and bass giveaway, A package designed especially for the most passionate fans that makes every dollar invested in the ticket worth.
One of the great unknowns that arises before tuning in to a live presentation of this tour is how different this feels from watching a concert on platforms such as YouTube. Which is indeed something very different, since in these presentations Suicide Silence takes immersion and interactivity to new levels.
Right away when the show starts, elements such as sound and lighting, even in the midst of virtuality, make you feel inside an authentic Suicide Silence concert (Coming from someone who has been able to see them perform live twice on two very different venues). The stage presence of the band also plays a huge factor since the band members are constantly interacting with the audience watching from home. Even before the shows with live streamings on social media, chatting with fans about the experience on the virtual shows of the tour.
Another vital element that adds to the interactivity and participation of the public within the show is the integrated chat, where fans leave messages that can be read live. At the same time that a survey is opened in the middle of the show, where the public can choose between two songs to determine which will be included in the setlist.
At the Orlando, Florida show where I had the chance to attend, the two songs that were available for voting were «Destruction Of A Statue» (From the legendary album The Cleansing) and «Skin Tight» (From Become The Hunter, their most recent album). Surprisingly «Skin Tight» got the most votes, something kinda unusual because all of The Cleansing’s songs are basically hymns. Showing the great reception that Become The Hunter has received after few months of its release.
In addition, another great element that adds a great dose of dynamism and fun to the presentation are the small video clips that are presented between songs, where the band brings out its most comical acting facet in funny and memorable gags like the Chef Garza one and the Alex Webster dictionary starred by Dan Kenny.
At the end of the concert, Suicide Silence revealed an exclusive preview of Live Life Hard, a DVD/BluRay that compiles never-before-seen footage from their beginnings as a band, including audiovisual material from concerts, behind the scenes and many clips featuring the remarkable presence of Mitch Lucker.
After this the Q&A session begins, where Suicide Silence answer a lot of fans’ questions. It was something extremely fun because they answer a wide variety of questions, such as vocal techniques and instrumental execution, curiosities such as Dan Kenny’s middle name, stories of Chris Garza’s first job, Mark Heylmun’s most painful tattoo and many more. All this in a very cool ambient that shows in more detail how chill and down to earth the Suicide Silence musicians are, something that I could confirm after having the chance of meeting them in person.
Concluding the Q&A session, they wrap up the streaming and immediately get ready for the next show, because there are occasions where they get to do up to three broadcasts per day. A remarkable effort that is made way lighter since they have a great time at each show.
With live concerts possibly far from coming back, this virtual tour format presented by Suicide Silence feels very fresh and revolutionary for the music industry, since although there have been concerts very similar to this format, they had never been translated to the magnitude of a world tour in the way that Suicide Silence is doing it right now.
For now, multiple bands in Metal such as Underoath and Gamma Ray are preparing to adopt this virtual tour format, something that in a world that is forcing us to reinvent ourselves should be adopted by bands not only to safeguard their economy, but also to keep the Metal flame burning until we all return to fill venues guided by the sounds of our favorite artists.