Manic Focus Ups The Livestream Game With Full Light-Show Simulcast From Empty Venue

Electronic musician Manic Focus is taking his weekly livestream to new heights, with his “Minds Mix Vol. 3” debuting tonight with a full light show — although with a new twist on the socially distanced performance. 

“While he plays it from home in Denver, he’ll be in the bottom corner of the Twitch stream so you can see him DJing it, but his laser light guy who lives in Lawrence, Kan., is setting up inside the Granada Theatre, to an empty theatre mind you, and bringing his full laser LED panel light rig into the room and putting on a full-throttle show,” says co-manager Michael Harrison Berg, also known for promoting and co-promoting Chicago events including North Coast Festival and Suwannee Hulaween in Florida. 
“It’s a way to level up the whole streaming thing,” Berg says, adding that Manic Focus’ audience has been growing steadily on Twitch over the past few months. “It’s taking the concept of the couch tour and livestreaming but adding a unique live element.”
The performance is a way of offering fans something extra during a period when just about every artist is trying to put on live music of some sort, often with intimate bedroom performances or in-studio performances, but sometimes with full production, as was the case with Pittsburgh metal band Code Orange whose record release show was nearly derailed at the last minute.
“It’s a full camera setup, and it’s obviously at distance since there’s no one there,” Berg says. “But if you’re at a show, you can be surrounded by people or not, but when the lasers are going that’s all you can see, so it’s going to look like you’re at the show. 
“It’s a unique way of doing it,” Berg says, adding that fans have been generous about donations and contributions as well when they see the extra effort from their favorite artists. “It’s about saying, ‘I’m not going to just DJ for you from my studio, I’m going to introduce new content for you, we all get to experience it together for the first time, and we’re adding this live element with the simulcast,’ so we feel good about that.”
Following the show will be a fan Q&A with Manic Focus, also known as Chicago native John “JmaC” McCarten, after which will see the release of the “Minds Mix Vol. 3.”  Manic Focus’ Boxoffice history includes selling out the Riviera Theatre in Chicago in 2018 (2,400 tickets) along with venues including The Intersection in Grand Rapids, Fox Theatre in Boulder, and the Majestic Theatre in Madison, Wisc. 

Minds Mix
– Minds Mix
A screengrab preview of the light show.
Berg, a veteran promoter and talent buyer formerly with Silver Wrapper presents, added that he’s been working for the last few months with fellow concert promoters Lucas King and Christopher Den Uijl inm building a new national events company called Collectiv Presents, focusing on dance music, jam bands, hip-hop, and Latin Music. 
“We already started with a soft roll out, focusing on various sized concerts ranging from 500-15k capacities in Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Detroit/Grand Rapids & Milwaukee, while working on our individual larger scale capacity festivals ranging from Mexico (Baja Beach Fest, Coca Cola Flow Fest, Afro Nation, Papas Beach Bash) to Florida (Suwannee Hulaween) to Indiana (Indy 500 Snakepit) to Georgia (Dirty Bird BBQ, Fishers Catch & Release) & Illinois (North Coast),” Berg says.
Meanwhile, dates for the yearly Halloween-themed, String Cheese Incident-started Suwannee Hulaween in Florida have been secured, but it’s still very unclear if and how the camping festival will take place.
“We’re not going to put it on sale until we think we can have the event,” Berg says, adding that the event has done well in blind presales over the last few years, which makes him confident it could do well despite needing to come together quickly. 
But the question is one of health and safety, as well of booking practices at a time when there are so few shows and so much uncertainty.  
“We don’t know what the industry standard’s going to be for new festival-style deals by then,” Berg says, adding that fee structures might be a lot different when fall rolls around, with reduced guarantees or percentage deals as opposed to flat fees, likely with bonuses if a certain number of tickets are sold. 
However, the main problem is still one of safety.
“I don’t want to be the promoter that gets people sick or prolongs this,” Berg says. “I want to be the promoter that helps deliver when people are suffering and bored out of their minds and craving human interaction. 
“Regardless of the legality, which is totally relevant, on my own conscience I don’t want to do something that prolongs the duration of this or hurts anyone. That’s the opposite of why I put on concerts.”