The Who connect to new generation with 3D Oculus Rift virtual reality app

The band have been persuaded that the app is the best way to connect with a digitally-enabled teenage audience

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The Independent Culture

When The Who announced their 50th anniversary tour, the band condemned fans who watched gigs through a smartphone lens.

 But now the rock veterans have made their peace with technology and created a revolutionary 3D app designed to be viewed through an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Surviving members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey appear to have concluded that if you can’t beat them, join them.

In July, Daltrey said he “felt sorry” for modern gig-goers who go to concerts only to spend half their time filming on mobile phones. “I find it weird,” the singer, 70, said.

Now the band, which has pushed the boundaries of rock musically and visually throughout its career, has been persuaded that an “immersive app”, is the best way to connect with a digitally-enabled teenage audience which might never have heard “My Generation”.

The “ground-breaking” app, available free today for tablet, smartphone and desktop (Monday), contains a 3D virtual world modelled on famous moments and landmarks from The Who’s guitar-smashing career.

A premium version will be released on Oculus Rift Virtual Reality early in the New Year to coincide with the band’s The Who Hits 50 world tour.

The headset, which allows players to step inside their favourite games and completely immerse themselves in a virtual world, will be made available to the public within months, Brendan Iribe, Oculus CEO, said last week.

Like many of his generation, Daltrey has been introduced to the digital world by his children – in his case his son Jamie, creative director of Immersive, a music software developer, which produced the app in consultation with the band and Universal Music.

“‪I’m not a fan of smartphones but have to admit they do open up huge possibilities to entertain and educate,” Roger Daltrey said. “The music business needs to use every avenue possible to keep the fans and the music in close contact. This app will hopefully teach our newer, younger fans everything they might want to know of our history, and hopefully unearth some odds and sods for our older ones.”

The app, which will be updated regularly, allows fans to upload their own images of The Who, alongside an interactive backdrop of artwork and artefacts from the group’s first 50 years.

Jamie Daltrey said: “Roger is not a fan of technology at all but he can see the potential of a digital space which can bring artists and fans together.

“We’re creating a living, breathing 3D Who world. We’re looking at incorporating Pete Townshend’s guitar-smashing exploits and Keith Moon smashing up hotel bedrooms.”

Daltrey added: “We’re trying to revive that relationship that artists had with their fans when people used to pore over their artwork and sleeves. There will be rarities for long-term fans to discover and hopefully it will get newer fans interested as well.”

Daltrey jnr is looking forward to Roger doing battle with a virtual headset. “He’ll be popping his Oculus Rift cherry at a presentation on Wednesday.”

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