Coldplay powers green tour with kinetic dance floors and stationary bikes

It is often said that fans at live concerts give the band an electric shock. Coldplay literally wants to exploit this.

The pop superstars have added kinetic dance floors and energy-storage stationary bikes to their latest world tour, encouraging fans to help fuel the show by dancing or spinning.

It’s part of a bigger push to make the Music of the Spheres visit more respectful of the environment. The band – whose songs include the appropriate title higher power – is committed to being as sustainable and low-carbon as possible, with the hope of reducing its CO2 emissions by 50%.

“You don’t want to come across as too serious. This stuff is also a lot of fun,” bassist Guy Berryman said. “That’s how it’s going to be, if people see it less as some sort of onerous responsibility and more as some sort of opportunity to do something fun and it’s a benefit to the environment and for the whole concert experience.”

Each kinetic dance floor can accommodate dozens of people, with electricity created when movement is performed on it. The band holds pre-show contests to see which group of fans can generate the most power, fueled by To jump by House of Pain.

And each of the bikes – a minimum of 15 but can be expanded depending on venue size – can generate an average of 200 watts of power, captured in batteries that run elements of the show.

Coldplay has included energy-storage stationary bikes in its latest world tour, shown here on May 12, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona, encouraging fans to help power the show as part of an effort to make the tour more respectful of the environment. (Rick Scuteri/Invision/AP)

Coldplay are just one music group working to reduce the effects of the climate footprint of their tours, a list that includes Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, The Lumineers, Dave Matthews Band, Shawn Mendes, Maroon 5, John Mayer, Lorde, The Chicks, Jason Isbell and The 1975.

“The relationship musicians have with millions of their fans is unlike any relationship of any other public figure. It can be a walking and telling example,” said Adam Gardner, founder and co-executive director of Reverb, an organization at non-profit that helps groups. make their concerts greener. It doesn’t help Coldplay’s tour.

“A good business model”

The artists reflect a global push in the entertainment sphere – from sports teams to toymakers – to reduce their carbon footprint. A Live Nation study found that 82% of live music fans said they make an effort to maintain an eco-friendly lifestyle.

“Being green isn’t some kind of self-flagellation charity exercise, holier than you. It’s a good business model. That’s what we’d like to show off,” lead singer Chris Martin said. by Coldplay. Guitarist Jonny Buckland added, “It has to work.”

Efforts involve everything from providing more plant-based food options at concessions and eliminating single-use plastic to redesigning transportation — the greenest aspect of touring — for musicians. and the fans.

Artists are committed to reducing their impact on the environment

Eilish has pledged to eliminate around 35,000 single-use water bottles from her tour and only serves vegetarian food backstage. The Massive Attack group travels by train, and Olivia Rodrigo Sour merchandise is sustainably dyed and 100% organic cotton.

Mendes is committed to reducing the environmental impact and emissions of his tour by 50% per show, using sustainable fabrics in hoodies and t-shirts, staying in hotels that commit to zero clean emission, eliminating plastic and using sustainable aviation fuel. Styles’ recent tour had battery recycling centers and he donated unused hotel toiletries to shelters.

Coldplay plans to minimize air travel – but when flights are needed, the group will opt for commercial over charter – and use trains and electric vehicles whenever possible. The trucks will use alternative fuels like hydrotreated vegetable oil.

Bumps in the road to change

But change has not always been smooth. Coldplay has been accused of greenwashing because it partnered with Neste, which bills itself as the world’s largest producer of sustainable biofuels.

Transport and Environment, a Brussels-based environmental organization, said Neste had “documented links to deforestation and questionable biofuels”, such as palm oil or its by-products. But Neste replied that “conventional palm oil” was not used as a “raw material” in the Coldplay collaboration and hopes to end the use of conventional palm oil by 2023.

“They’re doing their best,” Carlos Calvo Ambel, senior director of transportation and environment, said of Coldplay, “but maybe they picked the wrong consultant.”

Reverb, which has been helping other groups navigate the complexities of greening since 2004, offers everything from free water stations to sourcing local organic and family-friendly foods close to the venue. The nonprofit has helped avoid the use of four million single-use water bottles since its inception, she says.

“Our philosophy is that it’s not all or nothing. I think if we force people to do everything at once, most of them won’t choose anything,” said Gardner, who is also a touring musician. with his band Guster.

“Some artists we work with are ready to go all out and some look at the things they are able to change right away. And I think the most important thing is to start.”