Classic rock blasting through the 16,000-watt surround-sound system, psychedelic eye candy filling the 76-foot dome, and Rock 101.5 KGB’s Coe Lewis guiding the cosmic voyage — this was the scene at the premiere of Rock the Dome, in the IMAX theater of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center on March 3.
Functioning as between-song DJ, Lewis ushered in tracks by Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Pink Floyd, and others. At one point, Lewis elicited crowd participation to choose the next song, via applause (and some screaming). The choice was between the Beatles or Rolling Stones — Beatles won out.
Susan Chicoine, the Fleet’s PR manager, tells me that future Rock the Dome events will have more crowd participation. They currently have 17 different bands on their roster, including two Pink Floyd songs.
The song-specific visual content includes smoky atmospheres during Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze,” perpetual fractal-zoom optical illusions, and plenty of feel-like-your-moving moments. More advanced than the Laserium shows of the ’80s, the digital graphics were created by eight artists between 2003 and 2011, and are on lease from the the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City.
In February, upgrades to the Eugene Heikoff and Marilyn Jacobs Heikoff Dome Theater were unveiled. The theater harnesses the power of four SRX-T420 Sony projectors, creating a 32-million-pixel resolution. The eight servers involved process massive amounts of data, via a GSX system, to produce the spectacle. These $5 million improvements were paid for by donations, in part from Joan and Irwin Jacobs.
The science center’s website describes the experience as a “360-degree swirl of imagery and music.” If you allow yourself to be open to it, the immersive environment can take you for a ride.
The next opportunity to rock your dome at Rock the Dome is on Saturday, March 24, at 7 and 8 p.m.