The physical members of Kiss played their final concert in New York City on Dec. 3, concluding their End of the Road Tour, but the iconic hard rock group's live shows will apparently soldier on with four new digital avatars.
The band walked off stage at the end of their concert at Madison Square Garden and allowed their high-tech look-alikes to perform the track "God Gave Rock And Roll To You" as an encore.
Kiss also released a YouTube video that shows the four musicians donning motion-capture suits to create the avatars. The project was carried out by Industrial Light & Magic, which is owned by Star Wars creator George Lucas, and the Swedish firm Pophouse Entertainment Group.
"The band deserves to live on because the band is bigger than we are," frontman Paul Stanley said of the project in a press release. "It’s exciting for us to go the next step and see Kiss immortalized. I mean, we’ve spent 50 years building it to this point."
The avatars will allow Kiss to be "forever young," bassist-singer Gene Simmons added. "The technology is going to make Paul jump higher than he’s ever done before."
Stanley and Simmons started Kiss with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss 50 years ago in New York City. The band, known for its iconic black and white face paint and pyro stage displays, went on to record 20 studio albums and sell more than 100 million records worldwide.
Although the band never released an album that made it to the top of the Billboard 200, many of their records went on to become platinum certified. That includes their 1977 release Love Gun, which peaked at No. 4. The group's 2009 comeback record Sonic Boom became their highest-charting album when it made it to the No. 2 spot. Kiss' live act has always been a consistent draw -- indeed, the group's mainstream breakthrough album was the 1975 live release, Alive! -- with their elaborate costuming and spectacle-heavy stage design setting new standards for theatricality in rock music. Kiss was also something of a pioneer in music merchandizing, with the group's extensive -- at times shameless -- offerings encompassing everything from apparel, costumes and toys to condoms "air guitar strings," and evebn a fully-branded Kiss coffin. The group played more than 2,000 shows in its five-decade run, with Stanley and Simmons the two consistent members.
Kiss is not the first musical act that's been recreated in the digital realm. Pophouse was also involved with the Swedish group Abba's avatars. Rapper Tupac Shakur made headlines 16 years after his death when his avatar performed with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Nor is this the first time Kiss have attempted to infuse a bit of digital technology into their shows: during the Psycho Circus Tour in 1998, the band attempted to incorporate 3D video imagery, with attendees handed 3D glasses upon entry.