Odds are you’ve heard about the Gorillaz Spirit House: an immersive experience created by the band in collaboration with Sonos to plug Humanz, their first album in seven years, dropping April 28. The weekend-long pop-up-in-a-warehouse opens to the public today, and demand for the free event has been pretty insane—RSVP is actually already closed, so if you haven’t already gotten a confirmation email you may be out of luck. For those of you who snuck onto the list, we did a little scouting for you.
Basically, you’ll enter a very “Gorillaz” living room, make your way into a lounge-type-space to watch a couple music videos projected quite impressively around you, then exit through the gift shop–the gift shop being a room with a few Sonos products to play around with and posters for you to grab on your way out.
It’s all cool. It’s all worth checking out. It’s all just a tiny bit underwhelming, maybe. We’re ambivalent. But here’s a better breakdown to help you out.
The Hype: This is a pure artistic experience for Gorillaz mega-fans. The Reality: From the start, it’s perfectly clear that this is also a plug for Sonos to showcase their new Playbase home stereo system. But any fans of the band will easily be able to look past the marketing ploy of it all and just enjoy being in a place so closely aligned (and designed) by the band. And, sure, everything does sound wonderful.
The Hype: It’s sort of like a Gorillaz-themed labyrinth, with tons to do and explore. The Reality: At first. You’ll enter a veritable replica of the house the Gorillaz inhabit in the “Saturnz Barz” music video (see above). Sit on the same beat-up leather couch that the band’s virtual counterparts lounge on. Flip through some magazines curated by Albarn himself. Observe the flowering marijuana plant on the kitchen table. Open the fridge to find a decorated cake. Touch the fake pizza slice stuck to the wall. It’s cool, sure. But we wonder: with the inevitable crowd, will anyone really be able to spend much time lounging or reading magazines?
The Hype: There’s a lot of Easter egg-type elements that only super-fans will notice. The Reality: For sure. Notably, there’s Pazuzu: the demon statuette who appears in the “Rockit” music video and on the “D-sides” album cover—but there’s definitely more for peeled eyes.
The Hype: It’s advertised as a “haunted house,” so some weird shit is probably going to go down. The Reality: Nah. Aside from being pretty damn dim, there’s not much worthy of that description.
The Hype: You’ll be previewing a lot of the new album. The Reality: More or less. While in the living room, you’ll hear “Ascension” with Vince Staples and “Let Me Out,” featuring Mavis Staples and Pusha T—the next couple rooms are all about “Saturnz Barz” and “Andromeda.”
The Hype: The “show” goes down in the second room, where you’ll feel more properly immersed in Gorillaz-world. The reality: True. About half the wallspace surrounding you is covered in screens, with music videos and brightly colored panels flashing all around you and the bass shaking you to your core. (You got us, Sonos, those speakers are decent as heck.)
In conclusion, it wasn’t the least appropriate place to be on 4/20, and go ahead and stop by if you’ve got time.
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