Las Vegas Is Pondering Its Sphere

Twitter reacts to the $2.8 billion orb venue's debut light show

Photo via @SphereVegas on YouTube

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jul 5, 2023

The future of live music has been the subject of much nail-biting and exasperated sighs for a while now. In a so-called "post"-pandemic world of massive inflation, indie artists can't — or can barely — sustain life on the road. At the other end of the spectrum, megastars like Taylor Swift simply cannot play enough massive stadium shows to fit the entirety of their seas of fans who are willing to go through Ticketmaster hellfire and pay hundreds of dollars. And people are chucking shit at performers?

It's treacherous out there, to say the least, but leave it to Las Vegas to come up with an interesting response. Although it's technically been under construction since 2018 (maybe it's crystal ball clairvoyance?), the MSG Sphere at the Venetian — the world's largest spherical structure at 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide, with 17,500 seats and a standing-room capacity of 20,000 — has crashed into the planet to save the entertainment world for the low price of $2.8 billion USD [via CNN].

Set to open this September and be christened by U2's Achtung Baby residency, the massive orb's external Exosphere made its debut with a dazzling light show display dangerously close to the highway yesterday (July 4) for Independence Day celebrations. In addition to reportedly containing the world's highest-resolution wraparound LED screen, the Sphere's outer crust is lined with 1.2 million hockey puck-sized LEDs, which all just lit up for the first time to show dynamic images of everything from fireworks to an eyeball.

"We're the right band, Achtung Baby the right album, and the Sphere the right venue to take the live experience of music to the next level… That's what U2's been trying to do all along," the band said upon the announcement of the 25-show concert series that will mark the Sphere's inaugural performances in September.

"There's nothing like it. It's light years ahead of everything that's out there," the Edge emphasized in a recent Apple Music video of U2 touring the venue.

Bono added, "Most music venues are sports venues. They're built for sports — they're not built for music. They're not built for art. This building was built for immersive experiences in cinema and performance … you can't come here and see an ice hockey game."

Fair points have been made, and it would be marvellous to have a venue that does not smell like a locker room. It remains to be seen what exactly this "immersive" concert experience could look and feel like, but people have definitely immersed themselves in the Twitter discourse about the Sphere. You can check out some of the funniest takes below, as well as a video of the venue's debut Fourth of July spectacle.


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