Janelle Monae

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — Given how special “Lovecraft Country” has been this season, it’s not a surprise that an unconventional and highly distinctive artist would be featured in a highly unusual concert special. Actress/vocalist Janelle Monae will perform a one-of-its-kind VR concert special to mark the season finale of the HBO series.

HBO will conclude the first season with “Lovecraft Country: Sanctum,” a series of exclusive virtual reality that transports invited guests into a world inspired by the show, with the social VR experience Music of the Cosmos. For the final VR experience via the Oculus Quest headset, Monáe will be giving fans a unique performance and her first ever performance in virtual reality.  

“I’m so excited to partner with HBO and The Mill to pioneer the future of concert experiences in Sanctum,” Monáe said in a release. “I always strive for innovation, and this project gives me the special opportunity to celebrate Lovecraft Country, a show I’m a huge fan of, and connect with fans in a completely new way using virtual reality. This is the perfect platform to explore the impact of music and movement in a new dimension designed to celebrate Black art, stories and voices.”

The musical experience airs Oct. 19 at 8:00 p.m. following the series finale of {Lovecraft Country” on Oct. 18 on HBO. It features a virtual environment that is interactive and directly impacted by the artist’s physical performance via an avatar. Ahead of Monáe’s set, guests will be invited into The Reliquary, a mystery room hosted by Lovecraft Country’s Michael Kenneth Williams, that will be littered with artifacts from throughout the show and virtual experience.

“As long standing fans we couldn’t be more thrilled to be partnering with Janelle Monáe on this uniquely immersive virtual reality concert experience,” HBO’s vp of program marketing Dana Flax said in a release. “Through her art and her activism, Monae embodies the spirit of innovation, justice and Black joy that makes her the perfect artist to help us send off Lovecraft Country’s first season.”

The event will be simultaneously run on the social VR platform VRChat, which allows guests to talk and interact with each other in real time within the environment, and streamed to the world via YouTube Live. Fans on the YouTube Live stream are also able to interact in real-time, solving riddles to trigger spells that directly impact the experience.

“Using techniques like projection mapping and dynamic, interactive set design, the concert will see Janelle control the space with her performance. All aspects of the environment from the choreography and set design, to the lighting, will interact in a way that wouldn’t be possible within a traditional concert set-up,” Lovecraft experience director Aline Ridolfi said in a release.

“Sanctum” can be viewed via YouTube on Oct. 19 at 9 p.m. Head to HBO.com for more information.