Welcome to the 21st century, if no one has welcomed you already, where we can have any information we could possibly need at any time, connectivity, and hundreds of other things whenever we need it. You can archive any moment you deem fitting, and all you need to do is pull out your phone. This technology comes at a cost, however. As time has gone on, people have been become more and more detached from what they do for the sake of “staying connected.” It’s perfectly commonplace for someone to pull out their phone while talking to someone, even if it’s only to check the time or new messages.
Concerts have become the pinnacle of this detachment. Even in tiny, private gigs, there will always be that one guy holding up his iPhone recording the whole thing. It’s hard to say if that guy detracts from the experience of everyone around them, but some bands have recently come forward saying that it does for them. As Nile’s Karl Sanders told Metal Wani
“When you are taking your cell phone or video camera whatever and you are busy filming the show, you are not in the show. You are no longer a part of the experience. When people are involved with the show, you are listening to the band, watching them, you are headbanging, you are moshing, then you are part of the similar community experience. All of us are focused on the same energy and that's an incredible experience. You can feel that, it's real, the band and fans unite, they are together. So when I see fans filming the show, texting or whatever, they are missing out on a wonderful experience which hurts me, discourages me. It’s like what if you are in bed with your girlfriend and you are making love with her and she's texting (laughs). It bothers me so much that if people do it right in front of me, I am going to take the phone from them. If they are going to stick the camera or whatever right in my face I am going to say ‘Fuck you, go away… go 20 feet back’, because that place right in the front is for someone who wants to get involved, and if you are texting then you are cheating that fan out of a place where he could be enjoying music.”
That’s right, for some bands, it’s like your girlfriend texting while you’re trying to do the horizontal charleston. Maybe a bit of an off color comparison, but it’s understandable to a degree. It’s extremely disrespectful, to the band and the audience, to be right up front to see them, and spend the whole time watching the show through your phone screen. Neil Fallon of Clutch made similar comments to Pop Culture Madness, saying
"First of all, do you really think those people are gonna spend much time watching those movies? They're not going to. They're gonna delete it when they run out of memory on their phone."
"Music recorded is a static thing. Every time you listen to 'Four Sticks' by Led Zeppelin, it's gonna sound the same, but if you have the opportunity to see a band, that live experience — unless they use a lot of pre-recorded tracks — is gonna be a one-time event. And if you're spending your time [at the show holding up your phone and filming the concert], you're not participating in it. At least that's the way I feel. I kind of treat concerts the way I do a dinner — turn your phone off, you know. I don't get so irritated from the perspective of the stage. I mean, if someone wants to do that, fine, but just me, personally, I remember concerts much better from the '80s and '90s than I do a lot of these ones that have be en, kind of, with the phone. Like, 'Oh, I'm here.' 'I'm here too.' 'What are you doing?' 'The same thing you are.' Who gives a shit?”
Here’s the full interview
“Treat concerts the way I do a dinner.” Now that’s a great way to look at it.
Concerts are supposed to be an intimate event between fans and artists so there should be more of a set-in-stone etiquette for what is and isn’t cool. Taking a few pictures at the beginning of the show? Cool, whatever. Spending the whole time recording and posting stuff to facebook? Uncool. Some bands make it clear at the beginning of their shows that recording and phone use are not acceptable, but really, this should be an implied rule by now.