It’s exactly the kind of scene you want to smack people with when they groan that Vegas has no culture. On a Sunday night at Indie Flare Studios, musicians Sonia Seelinger and Cameron Calloway wield their acoustic wizardry for a group of 30 or so in the room—and another 800 who are not. It’s the fifth broadcast of Vegas Live Sessions, an intimate, bi-monthly local-music showcase broadcast over Periscope, the Twitter-owned video-streaming platform hailed by Apple as its 2015 app of the year.
The app allows viewers around the world to sample the city’s artistry in real time, ride the High Roller or anything else Periscope “broadcasters” fancy. It’s virtual exploration akin to strolling the streets of Paris on Google Maps, but live, and from the palm of anyone with a smartphone.
Attesting to the app’s popularity, a small but fervent following met for the Periscope Experience conference this week at the D to network and meet power users, from poker players to tattoo artists and yogis. Fans agree the appeal lies in the app’s intimacy and immediacy; videos can be streamed live or watched within 24 hours of broadcast, and it’s exciting to interact live with people in far-flung places.
“We wanted to build a teleportation device,” Periscope co-founder Kayvon Beykpour told USA Today in December. “We wanted you to see the natural wonders of the world from the comfort of your couch. We want you to feel like you’re there.”
And it does feel that way. Highlights include walks through Hong Kong at lunch hour, killer Hawaiian sunsets and face time with celebrities. Periscope’s potential for covering news is astonishing. But as with all social media, there’s a fair share of static. In what are essentially video selfies, users indulge in meandering reflections on race for MLK Day (on the upside) and what they triumphantly ate for breakfast (please make it stop). At 10 months old, Periscope is still evolving but upholds its name, allowing us to see beyond our direct line of sight, even if it’s just inside a random fridge—an odd obsession on the app.
Silliness included, it’s about reaching people you’ll probably never meet. During her show, Seelinger said performing worked that way, sparking interaction with strangers. On Periscope, some of them might even care about your egg sandwich.