We live in an age where people share so much detail of their lives online. Young people being the demographic that does it the most. I’ll put my hand up and say that I myself can over share. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat all now have a feature where you can share photos and videos to your audience.
You’ll know if one of your friends or those you follow are at a concert because their Twitter and Snapchat will be overflowing with updates of shaky footage and people screaming at the top of their lungs. I will admit I am something who hoards things for memories, something as silly as a receipt for a restaurant. So when it comes to concerts, I like to record a lot of it. But as it turns out, half the time I never re-watch the footage, which defeats the purpose of recording footage in the first place. I really wanted to explore both sides of the argument, because it was something I hadn’t really thought about in any real depth.
Some pros of banning phones:
A break – People, especially my generation of late teens and early twenties can’t go without checking their phone for any long period of time. I’ve noticed it more often at gig’s. People sometimes don’t even sing while they are at concerts, they’re too busy snapchatting what’s going on to their friends. We’re missing out on essential social activity. On the other hand, I think there’s nothing better than jumping around with your friends at a gig, singing the lyrics at the top of your lungs. I’ve also found that once I get over the idea of “missing things”, and put my phone away I actually feel really calm, I am not worrying about everyone else doing.
Better concert experience – How many times have you found yourself blocked of a view of the stage by someone’s arm as they try get the best angle as they film? I would surprized if you hadn’t. I have a friend who refuses to take photos or videos at concerts and likes to immerse themselves fully in the experience. Living in the moment. We hear that phrase so often, but when thought of in terms of concerts, maybe we should really think about putting our phones?
Some cons of banning phones:
The memories – who doesn’t want a photo of themselves up close to their favourite musician? I know if I had the chance to go to a Ben Howard concert, I would feel terrible if I didn’t capture any of it to look over again and again, to remind myself that it happened. Isn’t that the aim of a video/photo feature on a phone? Concerts are magical experiences, hearing the songs that have shaped you as a person being sung live in front of you?
Aesthetics – Yes actually. I think it’s a beautiful sight to see maybe 20,000 lights from a phone twinkling together. Seeing people showing the lights in solidarity for their favourite musician. I think there’s something so special about that. Being able to record that experience too is a special moment as well.
Sharing the experience – I’ve called a few people while at concerts so they could get a second hand experience of the event. I also think being able to re-watch your favourite song online and literally re-live those moments is also a nice thing to be able to do.
A lot of musicians these days have their concerts recorded by professionals and sell them as concert DVDs a few months later. An interesting but effective way of getting fans to buy more, by giving them the chance to “have an intimate experience”. On the other hand, for someone who may not have been able to attend the concert, viewing Youtube videos / snapchat videos may be their only way of getting to experience the concert.
I put up a few polls on Twitter just to get a general idea of what people thought in relation to banning phones in general at concerts. It was very close in terms of votes, but with a slight margin, 65% of 20 Twitter users voted that phones should be allowed at concerts, so that photos/videos could be recorded for memories. As for the second poll, in which I asked whether musicians/performers should be entitled to ban phones/cameras at their gigs; voters were more divided on the subject.
Thomas, 20 said : “I think it depends on venue size and whether it’s indoor/outdoor to be honest. A more intimate venue such as Dolan’s (Limerick) would be, in my opinion, ruined by a phone whereas say Marlay Park, you wouldn’t notice.”
I found that an interesting idea. Is it really fair for artists to have fans removed at gigs for filming their favourite song, just because there is a phone ban? Some fans noted at some of the late Prince’s concerts, fans were physically taken out of the venue by security guards for using their phones. A little bit extreme, or warranted? It seems people are divided.
But are more intimate venues suffering due to the use of mobile phones? I can imagine how disconcerting for a musician who wants to interact with their fans to see hundreds of little lights blinking up at them. It would definitely be distracting in some capacity.
Some musicians themselves feel that fans that use their phones at gigs don’t “fully immerse” themselves in the experience. Foals lead singer Yannis Philippakis stated in a 2014 video interview that he felt fans would rather film than just experience the music because of a “wider temptation to go around an aquarium and instead of looking at the fish, you take photos of the fish so that you can then show your friends and pretend you understand what a barramundi is”.
I found that an interesting, if slightly confusing analogy. How can you really say you experienced a concert if you spent the entire time looking at it through a screen? It seems most musicians prefer a venue without fans recording performances.
A company called Yondr have developed a product to enable a phone free experience at concerts. You place your phone in your Yondr case (it actually looks like a sock), and once fans enter the phone-free zone, the cases will automatically lock. Unless you leave the phone-free zone, the case will remain locked, allowing for a phone-free experience. Is that a good idea? It’s definitely something to think about. Would you consider putting your phone away for the entire concert? As we live in a media saturated society, perhaps it WOULD be a good idea to consciously use our phone in social settings less and less.