The drones are coming for Kasey Musgraves.
Five hundred of them, to be precise.
The cosmopolitan country singer will direct the flying contraptions during a performance Friday featuring an enveloping light show programmed by an all-female team in honor of women’s contributions in technology.
The Grand Ole Opry, this isn’t.
If Musgrave’s concert — which will be followed by a donation to nonprofit educational initiative Girls in Tech — is intended to be unique, so is the setting: Intersect, a new music, art and technology festival kicking off Friday at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds.
The idea, as Intersect’s name implies, is to combine the aforementioned mediums into a whole, where all three are meant to complement one another.
The festival grounds will feature four enclosed areas featuring bands, visual artists and various technological attractions designed to create an immersive festival experience.
Intersect’s music lineup is wide-ranging, with top-billed acts Musgraves, self-anointed “dad rock” favorites Foo Fighters, alt-rock changeling Beck and R&B pot stirrers Anderson.Paak & the Free Nationals.
They’ll soundtrack the festivities alongside visual artists from around the world, including Barcelona studio Tigrelab, which specializes in 2D and 3D animation, motion graphics and video mapping, and French duo Nonotak, which consists of illustrator Noemi Schipfer and architect/musician Takami Nakamoto, who create ethereal light and sound installations.
The centerpiece of Intersect’s art component will be a massive six-story video wall dubbed “The Monolith,” which will feature video artists such as Beeple, Ouchhh and more.
“The art program will give attendees a deep dive into how technology is creating new paths of expression and new ways of engaging the senses,” explains Corey Johnson, CEO of Production Club, the L.A.-based studio producing the event.
Other attractions include a football-field-size playground featuring a post-apocalyptic dodgeball arena, a ball pit with more than 200,000 balls and classic arcade games.
As for the food offerings, they’ll come from Las Vegas chefs and eateries including Wolfgang Puck, Best Beverage Catering and Backyard BBQ.
‘Something for everyone’
Put on by AWS (Amazon Web Services), Intersect is an offshoot, of sorts, of the company’s annual Las Vegas convention.
“We throw a big music party at our AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas every year that has grown to 35,000 attendees,” AWS Director of Global Events Jennifer Hartford says. “We’ve built a pretty amazing and unusual live music experience that fans have loved; but in the past, the event has only been open to the re:Invent community. Instead, we thought we could extend this event into a two-day music festival for music fans who weren’t attending our re:Invent conference.”
Intersect is intended to take things to the next level, especially on the tech side, highlighted by Musgraves’ performance as well as a 3D set from DJ-producer Flying Lotus, French electronic music boundary-pusher Gesaffelstein’s light-absorbing Vantablack stage show and more.
“We have so many detailed pieces and parts that we’re assembling,” Johnson says. “We’re trying to be intentionally inclusive by making something that appeals to a wide variety of audiences and create an environment where there’s something for everyone.”
But the lead-up to the festival hasn’t been without controversy.
In October, DJ-producer Black Madonna withdrew from the Intersect lineup, claiming she was unaware that AWS was behind the event. Her objection to AWS stems from the company hosting Department of Homeland Security databases, which reportedly enables the tracking of immigrants.
According to Hartford, though, AWS’ affiliation with Intersect was mentioned on five separate occasions in the artist’s contract, and once Black Madonna objected to being part of the festival, she was released from her contractual obligations.
More recently, rapper-producer Jpegmafia left the lineup, although he has yet to publicly explain why.
The rest of the Intersect music schedule remains intact, as does its ultimate aim, according to Hartford: to bring different people together for the same reason, the allure of a shared good time.
“We have seen music as an uncanny unifier of people over the years,” she notes, “and especially at this time of flux in the world, we thought people could use an event that connected amazing musicians, storytellers, music genres, people of all ages and backgrounds, art and technology. Intersect will do all that.”
When: 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Las Vegas Festival Grounds, 311 W. Sahara Ave.
Tickets: $99 per day; $169 for two-day pass (intersect.aws.com)