Samsung reveals new drive-in concert tech
Harman, the Samsung-owned consumer electronics giant, has unveiled a suite of in-car audio products designed to capitalise on the drive-in concerts boom.
Two new platforms, Live Interactive Virtual Experience (LIVE) and Personal Audio Headrest, made their debut as part of Drive-Live Concert ExP, a concept which premiered at yesterday (7 January)’s virtual Harman Explore event alongside other prototypes for in-car gaming and audio recording.
According to Samsung, all three concepts could be incorporated into Digital Cockpit 2021, a tech-heavy dashboard interface would also allow drivers to check their health, make a conference call and edit video clips from behind the wheel. The 49” display “allows you to enjoy real-time gaming, online concerts, live broadcasts and more at a level of immersion that makes you feel like you’re really there,” says the company.
Harman says LIVE, in addition to offering high-quality audio and video from a choice of angles, would enable drive-in concertgoers to engage with artists in “entirely new ways”, including making requests, voting for the next song played or even “request that a specific instrument be featured in the next solo” (good luck with that one).
“We’ve entered a new era of music enjoyment, with live concert streaming and drive-in concerts taking centre stage”
5G technology, meanwhile, would provide real-time access to additional information, including lyrics and recommendations for similar music.
By combining in-car concerts with livestreaming (the technology would allow fans to watch virtual concerts in their cars, whether or not they are actually at the show), Drive-Live combines the best of both formats, says Harman, overcoming the space restraints inherent to drive-in shows but increasing the interactivity of livestreamed and virtual events.
“With traditional live events being put on pause, the demand for live music experiences is higher than ever. As a result, we’ve entered a new era of music enjoyment, with live concert streaming and drive-in concerts taking centre stage,” says Frank Moffa, Harman’s senior vice-president of car audio.
“At Harman, we understand that music and experience are deeply intertwined. Our commitment to ensuring the greatest experiences per mile is brought to life through our latest audio innovations. Powered by decades of acoustic expertise combined with our leading connected technologies, the vehicle can be transformed into the embodiment of a live concert with features that only Harman can deliver, ensuring fans can enjoy that undeniable energy and magic of a live performance no matter where they are.”
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Colombian promoters experiment with drive-in shows
Drive-in shows are becoming increasingly popular in Colombia, where promoters have been experimenting with the outdoor format.
Cúcuta, a Colombian city at the Venezuelan border, held its first drive-in concert last weekend (24 October) with a format that could cater to a maximum of 480 people.
The site, outside of Unicentro Shopping Center, was split into 60 ‘boxes’ to accommodate a maximum of eight people and one car.
Each box was equipped with its own sanitisation station and an individual bathroom and a waiter was designated to each one, ensuring that no party mixed with another.
Patrons were required to have their temperature taken and to sanitise upon arrival.
The event was supported by the Cúcuta Mayor’s Office which is promoting the safe restart of events to maintain employment and income in the sector. The event is said to have created a total of 300 jobs, directly and indirectly.
Caravana will comprise a total of 20 shows, featuring performances from Santiago Cruz and Lospetitfellas
The Cúcuta event was based on the drive-in cinema model, which has also become popular in Colombia, with theatres popping up in Medellín, Cali and Villavicencio.
Elsewhere, Colombian promoters Ocesa Colombia, Páramo Presenta and Live Nation are part-way through their drive-in concert series, Caravana.
The series launched on 7 October and will run until 28 November, taking place in the car park of the Salitre Mágico theme park in the capital, Bogota.
The 17,800 square-metre site comprises three locations (two exclusively for cars and one for trucks and vans) and can accommodate 280 vehicles each with up to four people.
The series will comprise a total of 20 shows, featuring performances from Santiago Cruz, Vincente Garcia and Lospetitfellas.
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Ocesa spearheads Colombia’s first drive-in shows
Colombian promoters Ocesa Colombia and Páramo Presenta have announced the country’s first drive-in concerts.
The shows, staged in partnership with Live Nation, will be held in the car park of the Salitre Mágico theme park in Bogota. Organisers expect the first concerts, which will include a range of artists and genres, to take place in early October, Páramo Presenta’s Sergio Pabón tells radio show La W.
Initially only open to cars, the shows will be opened up to motorbikes towards the end of the year, he adds.
In Colombia, concerts and other large events are excluded from a loosening of coronavirus restrictions scheduled for 30 September.
“We want fans to enjoy the music and have fun from their vehicles”
Ocesa Colombia’s Luz Ángela Castro says there will capacity for 290 vehicles, “with a minimum of two people in the car and a maximum of four”.
The promoters expect to announce dates and an initial line-up next month. “We have complied with what the public asks of us, and that is also what we want: That fans enjoy [the music] and have fun from their vehicles,” adds Ángela Castro. “Now the public must help us” by buying tickets, he says.
Ocesa Colombia’s Mexico-based parent company, Ocesa, was supposed to have been acquired by Live Nation this year. However, the deal was controversially called off in May after LN, reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, said it could not agree revised terms with Ocesa owners CIE and Televisa Group.
Unsung Hero: Fabian Müller, Castello
He studied law but readily admits that he found working in the live entertainment sector far more enjoyable, so he dropped the law degree and underwent training as a specialist in event engineering.
“Straight after that I pursued further qualifications to become a master for event engineering,” he tells IQ, while he later added qualifications such as the Professional Certificate in Event Safety & Security Management from the International Training Centre for Crowd & Safety Management (IBIT) to boost his professional credentials.
“I basically began working in the live entertainment sector when I was 14. At the time, apart from going to school, I did casual work as a temporary helper for event [organisers] and wedding DJs. However, I quickly noticed that there was more than just bouncy castles and DJs, and after a short while I began to work as a helper for a local service provider before commencing my studies and training.”
Having completed his training, Müller became self-employed and worked as a technician and operator in the lighting trade before kickstarting his career at one of the world’s biggest events: “My first job as freelancer was as a light technician at the Eurovision Song Contest in Düsseldorf,” he reports.
“I was fascinated by the opportunities at D.Live, a company that operates all event venues of a metropolis is unique in Europe”
His relationship with D.Live started through work at then-parent company Düsseldorf Congress Sport & Event GmbH on behalf of a local event organiser and venue operator, meaning his first contact with the company was as a client.
“I therefore knew Michael Brill, our CEO,” explains Müller. “When Michael went to D.Live, I was fascinated by the opportunities offered there – a company that operates all event venues of a metropolis is unique in Europe.
“They also have a team brought together from all over Germany, with each one of them an expert in their own field. However, what was really special for me was the common interests shared by all colleagues – the love of their profession, the love of live music, and the dynamism, which really impressed me right away.”
A native of Düsseldorf, Müller’s first concert experience was at the Mitsubishi Electric Halle (then called PhilipsHalle), so coming full circle to putting on shows and concerts in the venue is particularly pleasing.
“My personal highlights have been when I went against recommendations and the success proved that I had been right”
“Each of our venues tells a tale of my personal history,” he says. “As a matter of principle, I put 100% of my efforts into working for D.Live. Nevertheless, you will see me every year with one or two bands as production manager at festivals or on medium-sized tours.
“I find it extremely important to collect new experiences, to see what other people are doing and to support colleagues. And if we are really honest about it… you can’t and don’t want to completely give up touring.”
Müller admits that taking on the seemingly insurmountable is his favourite aspect of working in production. “My personal highlights have been when I really put my heart and soul into projects, went against the recommendations of others or even had to face up to people who wanted to prevent something, and at the end of the day, the success proved that I had been right,” he says.
“One of these highlights was undoubtedly the Horst Festival in Mönchengladbach, which – as an outdoor, free festival – was completely organised and staged by volunteers to enable their fellow citizens to enjoy culture.” He also cites ARAG Big Air, a ski and snowboard event, as another highlight, while the recent drive-in shows in Düsseldorf are another project that he is immensely proud of.
“Every task was a challenge with the drive-in cinema…there were no references or tips that we could have fallen back on”
“Every task was a challenge with the drive-in cinema,” he states. “We developed a completely new product and we were the first in the world to stage drive-in concerts. There were no references, experiences or tips that we could have fallen back on.
“We had to consider various issues, such as lines of sight from cars, distances between the vehicles and heights of stages. After all, the windscreen of a passenger car always restricts the field of vision.
“The whole behaviour of fans travelling to the show was new. Who comes? When do they come? We discovered that the first step taken by guests was going to the toilet, since some of them had already spent hours in their cars. But there were also new learnings with regard to the productions.
“Here, occupational safety was once again highlighted from another perspective. Issues such as distancing rules and, in particular, measures to protect crews against infection were constantly relevant. One of the great things about our profession, namely sitting together with the crews and drinking a beer after the show, was suddenly forbidden.”
“The amount of work required has considerably increased, while possible capacities have decreased exorbitantly”
Müller and the D.Live team had to persuade the on-stage talent to participate in public announcement tasks. “We had to urge the artists to motivate the guests to stick to the applicable rules… and not lose sight of corona.” And he reveals that fan interaction took on another dimension during the vehicle-centric shows.
“There are few possibilities for communication and reaction from inside the car. To protect local residents from noise during the cinema, we had to ban honking the horn and develop an app that enables interactive clapping, cheering, rejoicing and laughing, and which can be integrated in the transmission sound.”
Addressing the pandemic situation that led to the necessity for the drive-in shows, Müller notes, “Corona accompanies us everywhere. Unfortunately, that will remain so for a long time and we currently do not expect that the market will be able to settle down by the middle of next year or recover its former strength.
“Nobody regarded themselves as being too good to do something on behalf of the event”
“Every event that we are considering is looked at from the perspective of current findings and regulations. The amount of work required has considerably increased, while possible capacities, which I always refer to as ‘our currency,’ have decreased exorbitantly.
“Despite this burden, my employees perform excellent work. The way my boys and girls put their hearts and souls into implementing the drive-in cinema at lightning speed was incredible. Everyone did everything: nobody regarded themselves as being too good to do something on behalf of the event.”
He adds, “The set-up phase particularly reminded me of ‘the good old days.’ It was all just a super experience. And, as a team, the time once again brought us even closer together.”
Esports gets in on the drive-in boom
Inspired by the success of drive-in concerts and cinemas, a new company, USA Drive-Ins, is launching the first-ever drive-in esports arenas.
USA Drive-Ins, a division of esports analytics firm Harena Data, has partnered with property company Horizon Group to develop esports arenas in four US cities. The first – in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – will launch at the Horizon-owned Outlet Shoppes shopping centre this Labor Day weekend (5–7 September), with venues in Louisville, Kentucky, and El Paso and Laredo, both in Texas, set to follow later this year.
The Gettysburg event will feature three-different forms of drive-in gameplay: car play only, in which attendees connect to games via their smart devices without leaving their cars; hybrid car play, where players qualify using their own mobile device or Nintendo Switch console, with those who make the cut then invited up to the (socially distanced) stage to compete head to head; and stage play, a competitive mode, broadcast on the arena’s projector, for the best players, who are entered into a tournament to battle on games such as Super Smash Bros, Fifa, NBA 2K, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter.
The launch of USA Drive-Ins comes in the wake of the explosion in drive-in shows that followed the shutdown of concert touring in March. The concept originated in Dusseldorf, Germany, with venue operator D.Live, and quickly spread around the world, allowing artists and promoters to put on concerts while traditional music venues are closed.
“Our first trial will mimic the cinemagoing experience but maintain the comfort of gaming in your own space”
“Our first trial will mimic the cinemagoing experience but maintain the comfort of gaming in your own space,” comments Bill Dever, chief strategy officer of Harena Data.
“Along with high-tech concession stands, we’re offering clean bathrooms versus the standard port-a-potties that drive-ins have. They will be disinfected frequently and limited in maximum occupants at one time.”
Like drive-in concerts, the esports events will allow gamers to offer food to their cars by smartphone, choosing from touch-free menus, adds Dever.
According to Futuresource Consulting, the esports, or competitive videogaming, sector, will reach a value of US$1 billion this year. Gaming has been one of the biggest winners of the coronavirus pandemic, with videogame stocks becoming increasingly hot property as locked-down consumers turn en masse to games for their entertainment fix.
IQ revealed that more than three quarters of a billion people – each one of them a potential concertgoer once the live business restarts – play video games regularly.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
D.Live drive-ins attract 100,000 fans
Düsseldorf-based venue operator D.Live, one of the pioneers of the drive-in concert format, has welcomed around 100,000 fans to its drive-in space over the past three-and-a-half months.
More than 90 events have been held at D.Live’s Autokino Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf drive-in cinema) since the company transformed a car park near the shuttered Messe Düsseldorf exhibition centre into a lockdown-friendly drive-in venue in April.
In addition to over 20 concerts by acts including SSIO, Alligatoah, Brings, Tim Bendzko, Max Giesinger, Nico Santos, Hämatom, Sondaschule, Schiller, Tom Beck and Pietro Lombardi, the Autokino has also hosted an opera gala, DJ sessions, sporting events, stand-up comedy, circus shows, film screenings and religious events.
The Local Hero Festival, the last event scheduled for the makeshift venue, took place on Sunday 19 July, with local artists performing alongside Düsseldorf band The Buggs.
“Working with brave artists, event organisers and partners, we have managed to produce something unique in this difficult time”
D.Live managing director Michael Brill says the “response and feedback” for Autokino Düsseldorf were “overwhelming”.
“Working with brave artists, event organisers and partners, we have managed to produce something unique in this difficult time,” says Brill. “The fact that around 100,000 people came to the Autokino is a brilliant result.
“My thanks to the entire D.Live team for their passionate commitment to this project, to the event organisers and artists for their bravery, our service providers who all put up a great performance at such short notice, the local authorities for their trust in us and Messe Düsseldorf for providing the space.”
D.Live will now turns its focus to bringing business back to its venues, the Merkur Spiel-Arena (54,000-cap.), Iss Dome (13,000-cap.), Mitsubishi Electric Halle (7,500-cap.) and Castello Dusseldorf (3,000-cap.), as lockdown restrictions around Europe ease.
Since D.Live started its drive-in concerts earlier this year, the format has taken off around the world, with fans enjoying live experiences from the comfort of their cars in Lithuania, Denmark, the United States, the Netherlands and, more recently, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Russia.
Russia gives green light to drive-in shows
Russian promoters SAV Entertainment and Talent Concert International (TCI) have joined forces to launch a series of drive-in concerts at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, bringing the show format to another market worldwide.
The Live & Drive series, which is to feature Russian rock, pop and rap artists including Mashina Vremeni, Diana Arbenina, The Hatters and Splean, kicked off on Saturday (18 July), with a 600-carpacity show by Russian rapper Basta.
Two types of tickets are sold for the events, with options for a two- or four-person car. Food and drink is available to order online to be delivered to the vehicle.
“The whole project is a big experience for us,” comments SAV Entertainment CEO Nadya Solovieva. “We are having to work in very limited time frames, and we didn’t have time to popularise this format.
“I’m sure that more and more people will appreciate this new form of entertainment in the near future”
“A lot of people still think that drive-in concerts are unable to replace “ordinary” ones in any way. But Basta’s show proves that drive-in concerts can be as successful and “live” as the ones that we’re used to.
“The atmosphere was fantastic, everyone really enjoyed it and I’m sure that more and more people will appreciate this new form of entertainment in the near future”.
Drive-in concerts have brought the live experience back to music-deprived fans across the world in recent months, with the format making its debut in Latin America earlier this month, in the form of a Move Concerts Puerto Rico-promoted show. A number of drive-in concerts are taking place Mexico in the coming weeks.
Drive-in shows have also offered fans some relief from lockdown in Germany, Denmark, the US, Lithuania and the Netherlands, among other markets.
Tickets for Live & Drive shows are available here.
Live Nation cancels UK drive-in series
Live Nation’s Utilita Live from the Drive-in series, which which due to kick off this month, will no longer proceed as planned, due to developments regarding localised lockdowns in the UK.
Unveiled last month, the drive-in series was set to visit 12 UK cities with performances from the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Kaiser Chiefs, the Streets, Gary Numan, Beverley Knight, the Zutons, KT Tunstall, Tom Grennan and Sigala.
However, with uncertainty growing due to the UK government’s targeted response to local outbreaks – which sees stricter restrictions reimposed in areas where clusters of the virus occur – Live Nation has put the brakes on the series.
“The Live From The Drive In concert series will no longer proceed as planned this summer,” reads a Live Nation statement.
“The latest developments regarding localised lockdowns mean it has become impossible for us to continue with the series with any confidence”
“We received huge support from artists, the live music production contractors, our headline sponsor Utilita along with our other partners, and of course you, the fans. However the latest developments regarding localised lockdowns mean it has become impossible for us to continue with the series with any confidence.”
“We thank everyone for their support and eagerly await a time when we can watch live music together again. Full refunds will be issued directly to all ticket holders within the next seven days.”
Leicester was the first city to be put under a localised lockdown, with more expected to take place around the UK in coming weeks.
Open-air shows with a reduced, socially distanced audience are now allowed to take place in England – but not yet in Wales and Scotland – as the government moves to stage three of its live entertainment industry reopening roadmap.
Currently, only a small number of socially distanced events, including Red Rooster Festival in Suffolk and Unlocked in Northern Ireland, are set to take place. SSD Concerts’ Unity Arena, the UK’s first dedicated socially distanced music venue, is set to open on 14 August.
Mexico embraces drive-in concerts
Promoters in Mexico are the latest to embrace drive-in concerts, with live shows planned for Mexico City and Toluca, following the adoption of the popular Covid-safe show format in Puerto Rico earlier this month.
Drive-in concerts, or autoconciertos as they are known in Spanish, have brought the live experience back to music-deprived fans across the world in recent months.
Move Concerts premiered the format in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the start of the month, with Pedro Capó performing to 1,500 vehicle-bound fans.
Now, the format has made its way Mexico, with the first drive-in concerts set to take place at the beginning of August.
The Foro Pegaso (10,000-capacity), an open-air arena in Toluca, some 60km west of the Mexican capital, is hosting a series of 2,000-carpacity drive-in shows from 7 August, kicking off with Mexican rock band Moderatto.
Subsequent performances will come from rock band El Tri and Tejano group Intocable, who are also playing the first-ever drive-in concert in El Paso, Texas next month, on 14 and 15 August respectively.
Promoters in Mexico are the latest to embrace drive-in concerts, following the adoption of the popular Covid-safe show format in Puerto Rico earlier this month
The Foro Pegaso shows are promoted by Miami-based company MH Music Live. Tickets are available here, costing Mex$1,500 (€59) per car, with up to four people allowed in each.
The Mexico City Arena is also trialling drive-in concerts next month, with a show by blues-rock band Real de Catorce and rock group Salvador y los Eones on 8 August in its special open-air arena. Tickets will become available here on Thursday (16 July).
The arena has been hosting drive-in film screenings and family theatre events since the beginning of July.
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Entertainment and Media Outlook Mexico 2016-2020 had estimated the Mexican live industry to be worth US$276 million in 2020, before Covid-19 wiped out much of the year’s event calendar.
In the first quarter of 2020, CIE, one of two parent companies of leading Mexican promoter Ocesa Entertainment, reported a 6% fall in revenue compared to the same period of the previous year, due to over 200 coronavirus-related event cancellations.
CIE had been due to sell its 11% stake in Ocesa to Live Nation, but the deal was called off earlier this year, after the promoter was unable to agree revised terms with CIE and fellow Ocesa stakeholder Televisa Group.
Drive-in rave poses as religious service in Seattle
Seattle-based concert lighting company R90 hosted a recent drive-in rave by classifying the event as a religious service, avoiding violation of lockdown laws in the state of Washington.
The Covert Bat Drive Thru Rave was the brainchild of R90 owner Joe Cole, who organised the event with the help of friend and attorney Neil Juneja of Gleam Law, lighting designer Erik Mahowald (Bending Lite Productions) and lighting programmer Christian Jackson (R90), making use of guidelines permitting drive-in spiritual services.
In coordination with city, county and state officials, the team pitched the rave as having religious affiliation through its offering of the ‘gift’ of music, with no legal reasons arising to prevent them from holding the event.
In coordination with city, county and state officials, the team pitched the rave as having religious affiliation through its offering of the ‘gift’ of music
The religious-service-cum-rave took place in the car park of R90’s shop in Seattle, which has enough room to hold 21 socially distanced vehicles.
Local DJ talent including Darrius, Pezzner, Subset and Powermitten performed at the event, which also included an experimental acoustic set from singer-songwriter Glan Cannon.
With a warehouse full of lighting gear, the team of production specialists built the venue as a 3D visualisation model, complete with three lighting towers, 15 Robe MegaPointes and 27 LEDBeams.
Guests had to remain in their cars, with no limit to the number of people in each vehicle provided they were from the same household.
In keeping with religious service customs, audience members could make ‘donations’.
The R90 team is working with local promoters to increase the scale of future events and source larger venues.