Upon first entrance, the spectacular set up and explosive volume of VISIV is imposing. Filled with over 10,000 techno fans, VISIV’s first event The Future Is Now is overwhelming – in the best way possible. Hardcore techno shakes the floor of La Defense Arena, one of the largest in Europe, as crowds of Parisian techno fans, young and old, dance the night away underneath the blinding light show. On screens plastered across the walls of the arena, thousands of individuals tuning in via the Metaverse dance the night away across the globe, as the new and upcoming techno x technology community VISIV’s logo circles us all impressively throughout the night.
On March 19th, VISIV brought a unique concept to raving in Paris. A powerhouse line-up treated guests to 12 hours of non-stop industrial techno music while futuristic projections promoted the event’s associated NFTs. An audience watched in awe at the grandness of the arena, complete with a booming 1000 KW sound system from Meyer speaker. With an impressive lineup of Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, Blawan, Helena Hauff, DVS1, Rodhad, Dasha Rush and Bambounou, ravers danced through the massive space to an industrial sound. Sweaty, sticky, decked out in all black with rhinestoned faces, the air was thick with an excitement at dancing throughout the night; how after the sets finished guests would wander awestruck outside to a blinding sunrise, confused, excited, and overwhelmed by what they had just seen.
World famous DJs spin tracks that shake the floor while a booming, nearly constant 140-150 BPM can be felt in your heart. Robin, Koboyo, and Bambounou opened up the venue for a steadily growing crowd, encouraging early-comers to move their way to the front of the stage. Bambounou in particular gave an exhilarating performance, utilising his love of dystopian sci-fi to produce an extremely futuristic interpretation of the techno music, perfect for VISIV’s ethos. After, Dasha Rush delivered an experimental, genre-bending live performance, setting herself apart from the lineup of industrial techno. Her set communicated a dystopian, gothic, yet romantic dreamworld, fully immersing the audience into meticulously crafted soundscapes and thoughtful composition. Dasha Rush’s set, a perfect prelude to Ben Klock and Marcel Dettman, was not only exciting for crowds keen to dance, but an opportunity to fully immerse oneself into an artists carefully crafted vision of music.
At around 1am, the venue begins to feel packed as Berghain residents Ben Klock and Marcel Dettman step up for a performance that sends the crowd into a frantic, euphoric groove. At around 4:45 AM, my friend and I chug bottles of water and squat on the outskirts of an exhilarated crowd in hopes of reviving our tired feet for two of our favourite performers on the lineup. Helena Hauff going B2B with Blawan was perhaps one of the most anticipated sets of the night, with crowds of sticky, sweaty fans pushing on until 5am to catch a glimpse of the iconic DJs. As Helena Hauff steps on stage to a roaring crowd, and opens up her first grunge-y, grime-y track, we quickly realise that there’s no need to rehydrate to rally. The vibrancy coursing through her set is enough to keep someone moving and grooving all night long, with Blawan stepping up to keep the crowd going. With a venue as large as La Defense, it’s no easy feat for seven back-to-back DJ sets to fill up an imposing space, and much more as to satisfy thousands of fans for 12 straight hours. However, with such a powerhouse of a lineup, the rotation of DJs moved perfectly throughout the night, each providing a unique and exciting take on techno for an animated audience.
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Putting on their first show at the largest arena in Europe was definitely a powerful statement from VISIV. The music industry has always mutated to fit with technological advancements in regards to performance, distribution, and consumption. NFTs, arguably 2021’s biggest online buzzword, are a new aspect of digital technology impacting music by allowing artists to sell tokenised versions of their lyrics, melodies, songs and artwork – and the result has been incredibly divisive. The movement is fuelled by paradisal promises for artists to control every aspect of their music, including customising their own streaming rates per track, creating smart contracts, and being paid global royalties in a decentralised, democratised community. Popular discourse surrounding the topic has divided many, with some claiming NFTs offer a unique way to directly benefit artists, and others criticising crypto-technology and the culture surrounding it.
It’s no secret that streaming, while increasing accessibility for listeners, has unfairly hindered artist pay. As reported by Fortune, the distribution of revenue in music spaces that normally sits at 50/50 – with 50% to the artist and 50% shared among producers, lawyers, and agents – has been further complicated with he onset of streaming services, with the deal progressively getting worse for the artist. Within the electronic genre, built upon sampling, collaborating, and interpolating, artists are beginning to capitalise on NFTs as a way to increase their direct revenue stream, bypass streaming conglomerates, and make sure they are paid exactly what they are owed.
Currently, the dizzying amounts of money involved in crypto are often reflected in already popular artists selling parts of their digital ownership for hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is a question around the trickling down of the wealth: if Disclosure can create a track live on Twitch and sell it for 40k, how can a smaller, newer artist have access to the same sort of revenue streams? This has opened up a space for conversation regarding crowdfunding for smaller artists to create NFTs. Communities like VISIV are taking advantage of the booming sector of the industry by bringing large-scale nights out into the digital sphere. This not only increases accessibility in attending, but sets an example of creating NFTs to directly support their lineup, and encourages attendees to do the same.
Sitting at an empty airport gate in Charles De Gaulle the next afternoon, it’s strange to reflect on the dizzying, overwhelming concept of NFTs and techno in such a sterile environment. I’m trying to make sense on whether these divisive concepts have a place in the industry – are they just a passing fad, bound to blow up or mutate into the next big thing in five years, or are they a legitimate way for artists to take back their own narratives in an industry often fixated on minimising actual artist revenues?
The mundanity of the tube journey home from Heathrow does lead me to think about the provocativeness of VISIV. The merging of a cutting-edge technology with techno, a genre known for subverting musical norms and as a field of explosive creativity, is exciting. There’s not really another word I could use for it. Sure, the concept of NFTs is dizzying at best, and the last thing someone really wants to think about at 4am while dancing to industrial techno is crypto-currency, but with a community like VISIV who have such a finger on the pulse, the concept does feel simultaneously exciting and overwhelming.
As Metaverse ticket holders are left with the ability the relive the event over and over again, I spend my Sunday evening reliving my experience through blurry iPhone videos, turning down my headphones as the explosive sound of techno decimates the speakers. You can stay tuned at visiv.fr for updates on future events expected in the second half of May.
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Words: Ruby Carter
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