Inside the Mysterious Installation Odesza Is Unveiling This Week at The Gorge

Over the last three years, Odesza‘s The Last Goodbye Tour has spanned 54 shows at 48 venues throughout North America, including headlining sets at festivals like Governor’s Ball and Bonnaroo.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of its end. From July 4-6, Odesza will play the three finale shows of The Last Goodbye run at The Gorge Amphitheatre, the iconic venue roughly 150 miles southeast from the duo’s hometown of Seattle. 66,000 fans are expected over the three nights, and if things go according to plan, almost all of them will pass through an on-site installation the band has created as a tangible, extraordinary and this time truly final goodbye.

Called Echoes, the installation is built from six 30-foot towers, 120 LED screens and loads of cutting-edge tech that will involve projection mapping and, naturally, sound. Made of brushed aluminum so the installation reflects sunlight by day, after dark Echoes comes to life with video content incorporating brand new visual content from the band, the epic three-year tour and which is also, says the project’s head of creative Steve Bramucci, “in part inspired by the fans.”

This eight-minute video loop will be synced with sound mixed by Odesza’s Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight. Known for the meticulous attention to detail they bring to their music and all elements of the Odesza universe, the pair have also been heavily involved in the design and execution of Echoes.

Their 10-minute soundscape is built from gentle ambient music mixed with voice notes left for the band by fans about what the Last Goodbye era has meant to them, with people offering comments reflecting on things like how they never felt comfortable dancing in public until seeing the show, how the music helped them deal with the loss of parents, grandparents, best friends and relationships, how attending shows expanded their friend group and how this chapter of Odesza generally contributed joy to their lives.

It’s a soundtrack with the power to make one tear up while listening to it at their office desk, and it’s thus likely to have high emotional impact when experienced by fans onsite at The Gorge. (For fans who can’t make it The Gorge, the final show on July 6 will be livestreamed on Veeps.)

The project is designed “to be experienced in the ramping-up period before a show or ramping down after a show,” says Bramucci, “but you can tell that Odesza is thinking people are going sit in here for a few minutes. They’re not just gonna race through, take a couple Instagrams and bounce.” Given crowd flow at The Gorge, Bramucci expects “97 to 98%” of attendees will pass through Echoes. (Another 3% will enter through the VIP area that doesn’t lead past the installation.)

The hope is that fans will indeed spend some time in a project that a global team has dedicated the last two months of their lives to creating. Echoes takes influence from a design originally built in Russia by Russian creative studio Setup, with a second creative studio, The Vessel, expanding on that design and project managing Echoes in the States. The Vessel’s operator Jenny Feterovich serves as Echoes’ creative director.

Meanwhile, Bramucci’s team at Uproxx was tasked with user experience, coordination and storytelling around the project, with a host of other companies involved with AV and scenic building. A 30-person crew has been on site since June 30, working around the clock to get Echoes up and functioning by the time doors open tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.

Echoes being built this week at The Gorge Amphitheatre
Echoes being built this week at The Gorge Amphitheatre

This challenge has been compounded by the logistics of working at The Gorge. “It’s literally in the middle of nowhere,” says The Vessel’s co-founder Jenny Feterovich. “We have to truck everything that’s going there, and there is no room for error, because you can’t run back to an office that’s three hours away to go get something. Preparation here is of utmost importance.”

The other major challenge is the weather — with the build teams preparing for possible high winds and assured heat, with temperatures during the build in the mid-80s and temperatures on show days forecasted to hit the 90s, and Saturday expected to reach 100 degrees.

Echoes was designed on PCs equipped with Snapdragon, a microchip from Qualcomm that uses predictive AI to anticipate a user’s movements, in order to shut down and reignite programs and save battery life. On-site, Snapdragon-powered PCs will be used to projection-map, troubleshoot and modify designs in real time, with the team also running visual and audio elements with Snapdragon PCs. Qualcomm also subsidized the project, with the hard costs totaling in the high six figures.

“We’ve found that there are a lot of synergies between Snapdragon technology and this genre of music,” says Qualcomm CEO Don McGuire. “EDM artists embrace innovation and are open to experimenting with technology and new tools, making them great partners.”

Ultimately though, all of the tech is intended to elicit an exclusively human response.

“If I see the face of even one fan who has a serious emotional connection to it, who’s like, ‘the aperture of my appreciation for music and what it means to connect to music has shifted because of this installation, then that’s the perfect win,” says Bramucci.

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