Review: Mesmerica 360 is a Kaleidoscopic Audiovisual Journey

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like being inside a kaleidoscope, look no further than James Hood’s Mesmerica 360, a multisensory experience that does, indeed, mesmerize.

I caught a sold-out show at the Museum of Science and Industry during the tour’s Chicago stop in January. Seated atop the museum’s Giant Dome Theater, with a screen encompassing my entire field of vision, I watched as geometric shapes of kaleidoscopic colors morphed and mingled, segueing into scenes that transcend space.

Accompanying this detailed visual presentation were selected excerpts from the former Pretenders drummer’s 2017 Mesmerica album, the third in his “Ceremony” series. Mesmerica is an ambient blend of instrumentals, particularly percussion like the metal hand drum called a PanArt Hang that was depicted in the visuals.

As the hour-long show transitioned between songs, Hood’s voice would often interject, offering meditations on relaxation, happiness, and living in the moment.

Right as I would settle into a scenescape, it’d be replaced with a jolt of vibrant colors ushering in a new one. Some of the scenes looked like space, while others looked like stunning places on Earth (i.e., Antelope Canyon), or neural connections in the human brain (apparently, the visual team consulted neuroscientists while working on the animations).

Additional flair came from the small details, like the little blue light that would often pop into the frame, serving as a guide for our experiences.

Mesmerica 360 made for a positive and relaxing Friday-night activity, a level-up from watching trippy Youtube videos with headphones on.

Mesmerica’s North American tour continues in select cities across America and Canada. The closest place to catch it next is Waukesha, Wisc. in March. (Tickets available here).

This visual concert review was written by guest author Valerie Nikolas.

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