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May 7, 2013 10:18 AM   Subscribe

'Before their show in Seattle last month, London four-piece Savages posted a sign around the venue that laid out a couple of ground rules: no Instagramming, no video, no tweets-- in short, "SILENCE YOUR PHONES." This could be seen as a part of a growing trend of bands pointing out how sick they are of looking out into a sea of smartphones rather than human faces (the Yeah Yeah Yeahs posted a similar missive at their recent New York homecoming show), but it felt more like an extension of Savages’ overall manifesto. And no, “manifesto” is not too dramatic a word; especially in contrast with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ sign, which tempered its message with chatty humor, Savages’ fiery imperative read like something hammered onto a door.' --Pitchfork has both a review and cover story on Savages well-named new record "Silence Yourself"
posted by Potomac Avenue (110 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm kind of torn on this, but I was actually a bit pissed at the Lumineers show at the Greek Theater in Berkeley a few weeks ago when they had what was obviously a planned break in the middle of their biggest hit to ask folks to put their phones down.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:24 AM on May 7, 2013


My favorite song of this record: Marshal Dear [Spotify Link]
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:25 AM on May 7, 2013


There are some lyrics from Cat Power's "Free" that I keep in my head whenever I'm in some proximity to celebrity:
Don't be in love with the autograph. / Just be in love when you scream that song on and on"
posted by Fizz at 10:27 AM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


You can tell it's a manifesto because it's in ALL CAPS.
posted by feckless at 10:27 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


OH NO BASIC POLITENESS GRAH.
posted by Artw at 10:28 AM on May 7, 2013


I tried to listen to the video under "well-named", titled "Shut Up", but the audio grinded on my nerves. Instead I went and listened to this, and now I like them.

Also, that cover story is phenomenal, in design and content.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:28 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, I am sure this will be effective.

Also, the comparison to Luther was not at all stupidly hyperbolic.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:28 AM on May 7, 2013


You can tell it's a manifesto because it's in ALL CAPS.
posted by feckless at 10:27 AM on May 7 [+] [!]


It reminds me of the typical set lists. I like it.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:29 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite of the genre is Father John Misty's tab on his website, listing upcoming tour dates - it is labeled "I'M COMING TO YOUR TOWN SO YOU CAN FILM ME ON YOUR IPHONE!"

Savages are truly great live, and people really should put down their damn phones and experience it directly.
posted by sheldman at 10:29 AM on May 7, 2013


If people put down their cell phones, then they're free to chat up their mate. And chat, and chat, and chat, and chat.

I saw Amon Tobin and as I'm a tall yet considerate fellow, I stand towards the back. Where some goons spent the whole frickin' show trying to talk over the music. This isn't some local DJ who plays all the time, and you're likely to chat with your friends after the show, too. I paid to see and hear Amon Tobin, not you jerks.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:31 AM on May 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


When I'm at shows these days, I think of a venue's sign I saw posted on the Web, part of an article discussing this issue, maybe 2008-2010, encouraging people to "Party like it's 1979". If you can find this sign & article, you're my hero.
posted by knile at 10:31 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Quietus on Savages: "The openness that Savages display to art, sexuality and the idea that rock & roll can be intellectual, though, means that they're the sort of group who, like the Manics, Suede and British Sea Power, will become a way of life for some. In the essay that features on Silence Yourself's artwork, Beth writes "if the world would shut up just for a while perhaps we would start hearing the distant rhythm of an angry young tune""
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:32 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


knile: here?
posted by sutt at 10:39 AM on May 7, 2013


Via Spin "Savages posted the above sign for their show last night at Seattle's Neumo's, as captured by Tumblr user sciencevsromance."

Irony is dead, right?
posted by Keith Talent at 10:39 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm torn on this too. There's nothing more self-absorbed than conspicuous smartphone wielding at a gig. But I also like watching good live footage of gigs I've been to on YouTube. I understand that you can't get one without the other.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:39 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


good live footage of gigs I've been to on YouTube

I'd guess that 7 times out of 10 that was shot by a professional with a camera, or at least a professional with an iPhone from the lighting booth.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:46 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I understand that you can't get one without the other.

Yes you can. The band can spend fuckin' 200 bucks to hire a videographer and post it to their YouTube channel. Or spend nothing and get a wide-eyed fan or a student videographer to do it. This is one reason I'm glad to be a classical musician. There is still SOME semblance of decorum and respect at concerts, where even a single cell phone going off is enough to make an entire audience turn on one individual. Sure, rock shows are different, but these bands have a point. Who the hell wants to be on stage, working their ass off to entertain their fans, and see nothing but shitty little cellphones pointed at them? Experience through a screen? "I'm watching what I'm watching as I'm watching it!" Maybe everyone should listen more. I would have so much respect for any band that immediately stopped their set and walked off the stage due to this selfish and disrespectful behavior. Maybe that's just me. People (not just kids) have extreme trouble ATTENDING these days. Where has the attention gone? It's sickening, really, from an artistic standpoint.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:49 AM on May 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is very self-righteous, and an invented crisis. I've come to dislike bands like Minor Threat or any other band with serious messages about what's wrong with society. No better way to take the fun out of a rock 'n' roll show than to tell fans how to watch it.
posted by ChuckRamone at 10:50 AM on May 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've attended a lot of shows that I didn't fully experience, and let me tell you, it was due to something other than a cell phone.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:52 AM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I didn't find the Savages' sign to be particularly "fiery" or worthy of being compared to Luther's Theses. Seemed rather polite and direct, to me.
posted by cooker girl at 10:52 AM on May 7, 2013


It's the anxiety of participating in an experience that won't be recorded. How will we know it actually happened?

A dozen shitty iPhones solemnly pointed at a stage. This is what the new Panopticon will look like.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:53 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was at Great Big Sea's New York gig about a month ago. All over the rest of the theater there were people jumping to their feet and dancing to "Run Runaway" and "Lukey's Boat" and "Charley Horse" and about three rows behind me were about ten guys who'd all been friends since grade school who bellowed along with "Paddy Murphy" and just brought the whole house up by osmosis and got everyone in their section dancing because they were having so much fun.

Except, in my section, I was the only one who jumped up to dance - the other five people in my section were all seated, taking a series of pictures with their iPhones. Again and again I would jump up to dance - and again and again I would get self-conscious because I stuck out and felt like a dork. And a couple times I even sat back down.

I want to get those "Silence your phones" signs, go back in time, and beat my seatmates over the heads with them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:53 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, Michael Gira hasn't punched or kicked anybody in the head because of this, so I'm inclined to accept it.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:53 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


No better way to take the fun out of a rock 'n' roll show than to tell fans how to watch it.

Have you been onstage performing, demonstrating the ability you've hopefully practiced, honed and crafted over years of study and hard work, only to see little LED lights, reflective screens and flashes? It's not the whole camera thing. People have snapped shots at concerts for as long as there've been cameras. It's the mindless "LET ME HOLD UP MY PHONE AND FUCKING RECORD YOUR ENTIRE SHOW" bullshit that annoys these bands, and trust me, thousands of people do that. Stand there after paying $50 to see a show and hold up their device the whole time. It's completely alien.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:54 AM on May 7, 2013


Or you know, they could just fuck off, stop pretending that a rock band is important in the grand scheme of things and let paying customers do what they like as long as its not annoying everyone else. First the came for the people using Twitter at gigs and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a person using Twitter at gigs...where does Savages gig fascism end?
posted by Damienmce at 10:55 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The three most annoying things that have happened to me at shows:

1. At a Skinny Puppy show, people getting searched for cellphones and having to give up their spots in line to go put them back in their cars.

2. At a TOOL show, having to throw away a keychain flashlight while other people were very obviously getting in with pot, and there was a whole intermissiony thing where nearly half the people in the audience were holding up lighters.

3. Very drunk bros deciding that a slick, icy field in front of the stage at an They Might Be Giants Mardi Gras show, where the crowd was huddling for warmth as much as to be close to the stage -- was their own personal mosh pit. (Slightly eased when a girl finally popped one of the idiots right in the jaw.)
posted by Foosnark at 10:57 AM on May 7, 2013


as long as its not annoying everyone else.

It is annoying everyone else.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:57 AM on May 7, 2013 [27 favorites]


as long as its not annoying everyone else

It annoys the fuck out of me. I swear, the day will come when someone in front of me holds up an iPad to record the show and I'm going to have to ask around for some serious bail money.
posted by JoanArkham at 10:58 AM on May 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


This whole compulsion to record shit is something I will never understand. "Yeah, I was there. All I remember is looking at my phone."
posted by Foam Pants at 10:58 AM on May 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


What's next, bands enforcing proper dress code? Giving your audience shit when they turn around and head for the bar? This is utter nonsense. You can't control what people are doing. This band should just give up and get a proper job already.
posted by monospace at 10:59 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I confess that, when I'm at a concert with general open-floor standaround type seating, that if people hold up their phones in front of me to try to film it, I manouver around in front of them to ruin the shot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:59 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


This whole compulsion to record shit is something I will never understand.

Exactly. It's as if people have forgotten that the brain is the most powerful hard drive of all, whose data is never truly wiped, and if they absolutely must show someone else they were at the gig, they could you know, tell them about it, and implore them to buy tickets to the next one so they can have a human experience together at the next show. Otherwise, they can just watch the recorded one over and over again like a bunch of robots.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:01 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or you know, they could just fuck off, stop pretending that a rock band is important in the grand scheme of things and let paying customers do what they like as long as its not annoying everyone else.

It's annoying everyone else.
posted by Artw at 11:01 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Douchebags gonna douche.

(It's up to you to decide whether this refers to the band or the people with the phones)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:02 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Listen if I can't take a picture of myself at the show and show it to everyone in the world then how can I be sure I actually exist got an answer to that birdbrain?
posted by The Whelk at 11:03 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd understand the people saying "Shut up band its my right as a customer" more if the band was like, not specifically trying to do something different than just play pop rock. They're trying to create a charged, sober, wild atmosphere. They have weird arty interludes during the show like have a avant garde dance concert break out between songs. It's just as much their right to ask for something like this as it is yours to just, you know, not go? Do you complain at the theater when you can't respond to the actors? Go do something else if you don't like it.

This is the same weird argument that used to break out at Fugazi shows. "It's a show dude, OF COURSE I'm going to mosh, durrrr."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:04 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


1. At a Skinny Puppy show, people getting searched for cellphones and having to give up their spots in line to go put them back in their cars.

What the hell? What if you walked/took the subway/got a ride?
posted by octothorpe at 11:04 AM on May 7, 2013


It's the mindless "LET ME HOLD UP MY PHONE AND FUCKING RECORD YOUR ENTIRE SHOW" bullshit that annoys these bands, and trust me, thousands of people do that. Stand there after paying $50 to see a show and hold up their device the whole time. It's completely alien.
I hear you. It does completely sap all the energy out of a venue. I keep looking at these stock-still-standing-recording people and thinking, wow, I bet you guys are fun in the sack.
posted by Sonny Jim at 11:04 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Have you been onstage performing, demonstrating the ability you've hopefully practiced, honed and crafted over years of study and hard work, only to see little LED lights, reflective screens and flashes?

I've been onstage performing in bands that ultimately failed. I don't think it would've offended me to see people holding up smartphones. I think these bands take for granted that they're successful and in a position to bemoan something like this. The nature of spectating changes as does music and the media documenting it.

I'm also not offended by smartphones in general, the way a lot of people are. I don't find them an impediment to enjoying the true splendors of life and the company of people.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:04 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can you believe the gall of these people? They are so excited to come and see you perform in person that they want to take pictures of you performing. Those self centered assholes.
posted by MrBobaFett at 11:06 AM on May 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Cell phones? Lightweights. Maybe as the tech advances, tapers' tickets will make a comeback in the form of flagged-for-recording access tied to whatever Google Glass ends up being.
posted by Lorin at 11:07 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


OUR GOAL IS TO DISCOVER BETTER WAYS OF LIVING AND EXPERIENCING MUSIC
AND WE'RE HERE TO TELL YOU WHAT THOSE ARE SO STOP ENJOYING THE SHOW AS WE SEE FIT, SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, AND BEHAVE YOURSELVES

THIS IS ROCK AND ROLL, DAMMIT!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:09 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


- I also like watching good live footage of gigs I've been to on YouTube.

- I'd guess that 7 times out of 10 that was shot by a professional with a camera, or at least a professional with an iPhone from the lighting booth.


I've actually seen some really good footage taken with good cell phones. Though a bit shaky, some phones have good enough mics and lenses to capture YouTube-suitable footage, even in HD.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:10 AM on May 7, 2013


1. I regularly go to Berkeley's Freight and Salvage where they make a point of asking folks not to hold up their glowing screens and bug the folks behind them. It works pretty well, but then they attract a well behaved crowd.

2. At a Buffalo Springfield show I was about to smack the guy in front of me who played with his iPhone the whole show. That bright light was more distracting than I would ever have thought it could be.

3. Still, nothing beats the asshole who sat a seat away from me at the Warfield talking INCREDIBLY loudly through a whole set, mostly explaining to his girlfriend how AWSOME the band was.

4. I like going to the opera, where the slightest sniffle or candy wrapper noise during the overture get's so much negative feedback that the rest of the event is pin-drop silent.
posted by cccorlew at 11:11 AM on May 7, 2013


It really does sap the energy out of the room. At a good show, the crowd is very much part of what's happening, closing a kind of circuit with the band--the two feed off each other. If a large percentage of the audience is staring at devices rather than directly taking in what's going on, that sort of magic just isn't gonna happen. I do like to take a handful of quick shots, just to remind me of my perspective later, and then put the phone away.
posted by muckster at 11:13 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember about ten years ago, when smartphones were pretty rare, but pretty nice DSLR's were being unrolled at increasimgly consumer-friendly prices, that some of the smaller rock venues who had never really required photo passes were trying to figure out how to deal with all the flashbulbs that they thought were ruining the shows. Often they would enlist a bar manager or a radio host or a professional grumpypants/true-believer like Thax Douglas to go on early and shame the audience into just enjoying the show.

I wonder how frustrated these guys are now, or if they've simply acquiesced to the new normal.

PS I hade foggy concert shots in my Instagram feed, and I hate the "photographers" taking them. If you're doing this just to brag, why don't you take a nice clear photo of the marquee or your ticket stup, slap a Brannan filter on it, and get off my lawn?!

PPS I spent an entire minute trying to surreptitiously Instagram a neat backpatch on one of the pit guardians the other day and I did make someone roll up their sleeve so I could put their Limp Wrist tattoo on tumblr so I might be part of the problem
posted by elr at 11:14 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not like hecklers though - I'd consider giving tapers a warning if they were being annoying rather than just shooting them on sight.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on May 7, 2013


They are so excited to come and see you perform in person that they want to take pictures of you performing. Those self centered assholes.

If they want a picture so badly they can buy a damn program and go home and stare at that instead.

It's a concert. You do not hear with your eyes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:15 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love taking photos. I'll sit up on the balcony to get a good, stable platform to snap pictures, because my memory isn't as good as even my distant pictures of the stage. I know people who write down the tracklists from shows, scribbling down the first half when there's enough light, and remembering the rest to write down on their way out. I don't have the mind for that, so I take pictures. But I don't try to record the whole show.

I don't understand people who feel the need to smoke and drink while on a dance floor of a venue. In London some years back, I was in a packed club, and most people at least had a beer in their hands, which made dancing very messy, and very likely to get you soaked in beer. But beer means money for the venue, even if they have to clean up a bit afterwords.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:15 AM on May 7, 2013


AND WE'RE HERE TO TELL YOU WHAT THOSE ARE SO STOP ENJOYING THE SHOW AS WE SEE FIT, SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, AND BEHAVE YOURSELVES
I don't think that's quite it. It's more like, "please jump up and down to our songs like sugared up six year olds at a birthday party in the accepted fashion." Which is hard to combine with the act of filming something.
posted by Sonny Jim at 11:17 AM on May 7, 2013


I think this kind of behavior is only an extension of a problem that was beginning to arise before smartphones. Smartphones only facilitate this behavior. You guys remember a few years back how people complained about fans at rock shows just standing stock still and watching, instead of dancing around and being crazy? These are probably the people hiding behind their smartphones

In my experience though, if your music is of the right type, everyone watching will be unable to do anything but get sucked into the whirlwind of activity. People standing still, people hiding behind smartphones - that's what happens at shows where the music has a serious undertone and is insufficiently rhythmic. So, maybe these bands should also ask themselves maybe it's not their fans' fault. Maybe our music is not danceable, doesn't create a good party vibe.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:20 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if they've tried or considered encouraging people to record one specific song with their phones during each show. Kind of like, "We know you're going to do this, so everybody record this song" and then hope everyone gets it out of their system. Make the problem a small part of the party.
posted by dogwalker at 11:21 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Huh, just started listening to the album and it's pretty good if a little retro — Siouxie meets Au Pairs.
posted by klangklangston at 11:21 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, do they ever sound like an uptempo Siouxsie & the Banshees, circa juju, fresh out of the cryogenics tank. Which is something I say as a compliment. Maybe I've finally found the band that could do justice to a Monitor cover.

on preview: (shakes fist at klangklangston)
posted by the painkiller at 11:26 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bands just need to put video on the net. "See that show? I was there. Dancing my ass off. Way too busy having fun to stand around like a fool holding my phone in the air."
posted by pracowity at 11:26 AM on May 7, 2013


I think this kind of behavior is only an extension of a problem that was beginning to arise before smartphones. Smartphones only facilitate this behavior. You guys remember a few years back how people complained about fans at rock shows just standing stock still and watching, instead of dancing around and being crazy? These are probably the people hiding behind their smartphones.

No, before Smartphones came along you had people using regular cameras trying to take pictures. And a lot of them used the "I paid my ticket, I can do what I want" excuse then as well.

It wasn't just concerts, either - theater got hit with this too. I was an usher for STOMP for a year in the 90's and we were really diligent about forbidding flash photography for a couple reasons: first, it was a copyright thing, and second, the flash had the potential to distract and startle the actors, and that often lead to problems. As everyone learned one night when some jackass set off a flash photo right when the cast was throwing quarterstaffs across the stage at each other, and the flash made one of them fuck up her throw and the quarterstaff sailed into the audience and hit someone's grandmother in the stomach.

The performers who ask for no photos, especially no flash photos, aren't doing it to be meanies, y'all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:28 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think what annoys about some of these demands/requests is the phrasing. "Be kind to your neighbors; refrain from blocking their view with iPads and cameras" sounds perfectly reasonable. "Dude, you totally aren't immersing yourself in our show" sounds a little control-freaky.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:33 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


As long as the flash is off people taking pictures from the crowd don't bother me much since it usually just means the phone being held up for a second or two. But the people that video an entire song or two drive me nuts because no matter how much I try not to I keep looking at the bright screen of their phone rather than the actual artist performing. I guess growing up with too much tv has made my eyes gravitate towards a screen even if there's something more interesting happening elsewhere.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:34 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you think about it, this period we're in where public events are recorded with obtrusive handheld devices is only temporary. Fairly soon wearable cameras will be tiny enough that their use won't intrude on others' experience (as much).
posted by gubo at 11:38 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's annoying to the band because no one likes playing to a crowd that isn't responsive and you have a lot of people standing still, not looking at you but instead looking at a smaller version of you on their phones, and it's hard not to see that as a little absurd. And it's great that you want to treasure the memory and all that but there's a difference between wanting to take mementos and the apparent fear that something didn't happen if you didn't get video of it and tweet it and take a million photos.

It's annoying to the audience because if I'm standing behind a bunch of people filming a show, my view of the band is obstructed by a bunch of notecard-sized replicas of the band, or possibly I'm not close enough to the screens so it's just a sea of little bluish squares of light, which is also distracting.

It's annoying if you're standing in the middle of the crowd and recording the show with your iPad, because I'm not sure if douche chills are harmful to human anatomy if one has enough of them, but I'd really rather not find out.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:42 AM on May 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've snapped photos at concerts before. Everyone's argument about how horrible it is sound pretty ridiculous to me - our brain is the most powerful hard drive of all? You're right, why take a picture of anything ever.

I can see how holding up your phone for a flat 30 seconds taking video would be super annoying so I try to be as quick as possible about it - point, shoot and finish. I've never taken longer than 3 seconds to snap a pic or two. I make sure my flash is off. If a band has specifically asked fans not to take photos I will gladly abide. Maybe everyone else who wants to take a picture at a concert should try to follow the same etiquette. Octobersurprise has it exactly on point - "be cognizant of your neighbors" makes sense, but telling people they aren't "immersing themselves"...is stupid. You can take a picture and immerse yourself just fine dude, chill out.

I like collecting pictures of the bands I see live. Is that bad? It usually only takes a second so if you're going to tell me that I'm "watching my concert through a screen" and missing out on "real life" I think you're being wicked melodramatic.
posted by windbox at 11:45 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


ReeMonster: The band can spend fuckin' 200 bucks to hire a videographer and post it to their YouTube channel.

Some bands don't have $200 to hire someone like that.

Or spend nothing and get a wide-eyed fan or a student videographer to do it.

Having a fan do it is usually the result, and oftentimes the quality and sound will be good, and other times not so good. Of course, bigger bands can afford to hire videographers/photographers, and often do, or they know people in whatever towns they tour in that're their friends, or people gained a reputation of taking photos of the band every time they go through for tour.

Who the hell wants to be on stage, working their ass off to entertain their fans, and see nothing but shitty little cellphones pointed at them?

I can't answer this, but from the audience perspective I use to be that guy who was taking photos with my phone, primarily because I was excited to have an 8 MP camera in my pocket, considering my previous DSLR was only 5 MP and was annoying to lug around and sometimes not allowed in an unofficial capacity at a show/concert. I don't do it anymore because, like you said, I'd rather experience it with my own eyes and ears with full attention to the band. If there's a quick and easy way to get away from our heavily connected lives for a few hours then going to a show or a concert is definitely it. I don't talk down or mock people who take photos or video with their phones in the audience, but I must admit that I do find it a little strange now that I've gotten over it myself. Maybe someday down the line that'll turn into seething hatred.

Chuck Ramone: I've come to dislike bands like Minor Threat or any other band with serious messages about what's wrong with society. No better way to take the fun out of a rock 'n' roll show than to tell fans how to watch it.

Whoa now, there's a difference between having serious messages about society's ills, but I don't think Minor Threat (or Ian Mackaye) has ever told anyone how to "watch it". If anything, making their shows be so cheap was a slight invitation for people to come and document their shows. Fugazi, however, happened to have a dedicated sound guy that recorded hundreds of their shows, which are now on the Dischord website. I could see a cantankerous Ian Mackaye having an issue with seeing a sea of people with their cell phones out at a show, but I don't know if he'd get necessarily angry, probably more of a sarcastic remark.

I can see why it would be annoying, but I don't think I'll ever have such a vitriolic hatred of it like some people in this thread. As technology gets cheaper and smaller and allows people to have more options, people are going to imbibe on those options. Believe it or not, a lot of people have not used cameras or ever been interested in photography or videography, so having a small, powerful camera in their pocket (that's also their phone) is a sort of stepping stone to something that could become a bigger interest for them and hopefully will force them to upgrade to a better camera. I've seen some good photos of shows from peoples iPhones, so I think the payoff is there. I may be slightly annoyed, but I do like browsing through someone's photos of a show I was at and seeing some wonderful photos of it. Yeah, I was there, but I like photography, too.
posted by gucci mane at 11:46 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Listen guys, one of the primary means through which I enjoy my own memories is not through the boozy haze of what's left over the morning after.

It's a nice, well placed shot that marks the event in the pseudo diary I keep via Instagram. I'm having such a good time I want to document it for myself and - occasionally - for my friends.

Looking through these photos after the fact help me relive it on my own terms.

[That said, I take about one or two pictures per show. I don't comprehend why people feel compelled to document every single second of the event, but I can empathize. Everything in moderation.]
posted by pmv at 11:58 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the Minor Threat comment is about moshing (or not) at shows, and not so much photography/video.
posted by dogwalker at 11:59 AM on May 7, 2013


I'm torn on this too. There's nothing more self-absorbed than conspicuous smartphone wielding at a gig. But I also like watching good live footage of gigs I've been to on YouTube. I understand that you can't get one without the other.

I can see where you're coming from, because I like watching good live footage on YouTube too, but I'm also kind of ambivalent about all that amateur-recorded concert footage. Like, a live show is an ephemeral thing that is all about the moment. Neither the person recording it (who's diminishing their experience of the show by needlessly mediating it through a screen) or me watching it on YouTube are really well-served by mediocre footage of the show playing from my laptop's tinny speakers, y'know?

If I was there, the video footage is only good for a pleasant burst of nostalgia/remembered pleasure. I can honestly get the same thing by listening to the studio version of one of the songs the band played and remembering how they played it at the show I saw. If I want to show other people I was there, then I can take a few (probably shitty) photos. If I want to experience a live show and I can't actually see the band in concert, I'll settle for professionally produced concert footage (obviously not possible/available for a lot of smaller bands), or suck it up and deal with not seeing them.

I don't have an issue with people who take some photos or a couple minutes of video (especially if that video is of an as-yet unreleased song), but having hung out with people who are overly obsessed with getting pictures and videos of things to the detriment of actually experiencing those things, I'm getting increasingly annoyed with the widespread impulse to record rather than experience. I have a lot of sympathy for bands who would prefer their fans watch the show rather than their camera/phone screens.
posted by yasaman at 12:01 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fuck the cellphone videographers. They should have their phones smashed and be forbidden from ever attending a concert again. Dear god, put down the fucking phone and EXPERIENCE for a change. So fucking sick of standing behind someone holding their stupid phone up above their head, so they can shoot some low-res, shitty-sounding video that, chances are, nobody will care about.

I was fortunate enough to see Prince at the DNA lounge recently, a (relatively) small venue of 800 people. The security people made it sparkling clear that cellphones should not be visible at the show FOR ANY REASON, and in fact they'd boot you out of the show with no refund if you broke this rule. Stories on the web backed this up with evidence -- people do indeed get kicked out of Prince shows for this. And guess what? It fucking worked! Not a single goddamn phone in the audience. NOBODY wanted to risk losing their chance to see Prince in a 800-person venue and be out the obscene amount of money they paid for the ticket. And it was GREAT. A clear line of site, even though the venue had no stadium seating. And -- this is the best part -- the whole thing felt like a private experience. It had been so long since I'd been to a phonecam-free show, I forgot what it felt like. Everyone was RIGHT THERE, focused on Prince. Furthermore, it felt private -- a special experience limited only to the people in that room. Like he was spending Quality Time with us. I felt lucky to be there.

I wish every show could be like that Prince show. Sadly, not every artist can manage it. I saw Mazzy Star a couple times last year, and she totally failed to get people to put away their damn phones, despite her repeated exhortations. With Prince, I think it was a combination of the ticket price and the stories online attesting that people ACTUALLY get kicked out for this. I don't know if every artist could swing that.

People need to be better-behaved at shows, in general. People who get all fucked up and spend the whole time shouting at their friends over the music. The fuck's their problem? Why do they even bother going to shows to begin with? Selfish assholes. They should be banned.

Also, people really fucking need to start respecting others' personal space. But that's another story.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:06 PM on May 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Who the hell wants to be on stage, working their ass off to entertain their fans, and see nothing but shitty little cellphones pointed at them?

Don't worry, this is just a transitional period. Give it five to ten years and everbody will be wearing Google Glass.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:07 PM on May 7, 2013


(however, I do agree with bitdamaged about the Lumineers show. That was pretty fucking bogus)
posted by Afroblanco at 12:13 PM on May 7, 2013


Huh, just started listening to the album and it's pretty good if a little retro — Siouxie meets Au Pairs.

*stampedes out of thread, elbowing fellow Mefites out of the way, to buy a copy NOW*
posted by jokeefe at 12:23 PM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sort of makes you wonder what Mingus would've done.

Part of who you are as a performer is how you interact with the audience. There's a very real choice to be made in that regard, they may loose fans over this, but they may end up being much closer to having the kind of shows they want. A performer can't dictate how the audience reacts to their music, but the audience also can't force performers to play the music.
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:28 PM on May 7, 2013


Potomac Avenue: "sober, wild"

These two things don't go together.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:29 PM on May 7, 2013


I also hear a lot of throwing muses in there. This is a really great album, and I look forward to seeing them in the US in July.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:31 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


These two things don't go together.

Dream better.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:32 PM on May 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


The douche scale, from low to high, applicable at all large crowd events like concerts, rallies, and other performances.

0) Photogs paid to be there...I mean, they're just doing their jobs and staying out of your way.

1) Still photographers. The good ones are aware they don't need the camera mashed into their face the whole time to get the shot they want. Get the one and you're done. This is my bias, of course, as someone who takes his SLR everywhere, but I believe strongly that still photos are just as evocative, maybe even more so, than tinny audio and fuzzy video. Lay off the folks who want a photo to post saying that they were there. 10 years from now, you'll want something to look at to bring back the experience you remember.

2) Cell phone videographers. What in the hell are you doing? Your footage will suck and the audio is terrible. I don't see how it's worth it. Snap a still photo and get on with it.

3) iPad videographers. For fuck's sake man. Just fuck you. Buy a camera. You're an asshole.

4) That one lady I saw at a political rally with an assistant holding a four foot tall pole with a flash and diffuser on it, blocking the view of the assembled press, blogger, and campaign hack photogs. Fuck you. Buy an SLR.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 12:40 PM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lay off the folks who want a photo to post saying that they were there. 10 years from now, you'll want something to look at to bring back the experience you remember.

.....Actually, my memory of Billy Joel/Sting/U2/Peter Gabriel seems to be intact over 20 years after seeing them live, without the need for any prompting. But I also have the t-shirts if it fails in another 20 years.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:56 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I recently saw the terrible John Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience. My most indelible memory of that was at one point watching the band through a sea of phones held high in the air, each displaying a tiny version of the action right in front if it and I thought it was beautiful. Hundreds of phones swaying slightly in the darkness, live action in front.

Seriously, I want to see everything like this in the future. Make it happen organizers. It's like the consumer electronics version of North Korean Mass Games.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:03 PM on May 7, 2013


If taking pictures and live tweeting is keeping even a few of the lunkheads from talking during the show I' guess I'm OK with it.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:49 PM on May 7, 2013


The lead vocalist sounds uncannily like Siouxsie, actually. I was not prepared for that.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:00 PM on May 7, 2013


I have always been fascinated by the blue glow of other people's screens. Every time I'm at one of these sorts of events I try to shoot one photo through someone else's viewfinder.

People who shoot with film and most digital SLRs are still looking through their actual lenses, seeing the same event (in a smaller box) as they will when they put the camera down. This doesn't transform what the photographer sees at all, just shrinks it into their viewfinder, in realtime. There's no delay, and unless you've got some weird filter on the front of the lens, what you see is what is happening. If your attention is totally fixed on your viewfinder (which it won't be, if you're looking for good photos they aren't always already in your view!), you'll still see what's happening in real life.

Other people use their phones, and on the remaining compact digital cameras there's often no optical viewfinder at all. What they see if delayed a split second, transmogrified into pixels on a screen, glowing at them unnaturally. It's the uncanny valley of the eye. When they watch the stage through a screen, the image is completely different than what they see through a viewfinder. It's a simulacrum, not a viewfinder. That's what is really grinding people, I think. All synthetica.

I mean, conceptually, this set of photos I've been amassing is pretty cliche, but it entertains me. I'm no artist. Similar to this or this. (I'd link to mine but that would give me away!) Someone as iconic as Obama is immediately recognizable just by a fuzzy outline.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 2:13 PM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


YOU GUYS! STOP ENJOYING THINGS DIFFERENTLY FROM ME!
posted by uberchet at 2:23 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Interesting how it's always the 'indie' hipster bands who take themselves way too seriously who come out with this precious nonsense about people videoing them.

Any band with sense knows that it's not the actual videoing of the moment that is important to kids, it's the distribution of the clips across social media sites (mainly Youtube and Twitter), and the resulting conversations and comments from fans that matter. That's the way young bands need to build a fanbase now, and it's great for the kids compared to when I was younger. The bands often respond to their fans through these channels as well and love the way their profile is raised by instant sharing of images and video from their gigs.

Sure, it's annoying if an iPad gets in your line of sight but that's not really that common. Mostly it's phones. But still, so many people seem to become enraged that *other* gig attendees are not as 'in the moment' as they should be...?

I take my young daughter to pop gigs and many of the artists take pics from the stage as well, or ask the audience to turn on their flashes sometimes. Possibly because they're having a good time connecting with their audience, allowing them to do what they like since they've paid for the band to lead the life of their dreams, instead of assuming their four chord operas are going to change the world if everyone shuts up and listens harder.
posted by colie at 2:24 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Indeed, why can't all musicians be more like Miley Cyrus? (This thread is weird).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:30 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


But still, so many people seem to become enraged that *other* gig attendees are not as 'in the moment' as they should be...?

To be clear, the major crime of the cellphone videographer is BLOCKING YOUR VIEW WITH THEIR ACCURSED PHONE. The "being in the moment thing" is more of a misdemeanor.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:51 PM on May 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


To be clear, the major crime of the cellphone videographer is BLOCKING YOUR VIEW WITH THEIR ACCURSED PHONE. The "being in the moment thing" is more of a misdemeanor.

Remember when it was lighters? Which they had on them because they were smoking. Heavily. All show long. I'll take the phones as the lesser evil.

And my view is always blocked. Damn you bigs to hell.

Now if only they could turn the volume down a bit.
posted by srboisvert at 2:56 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Savages seems to be getting a push to be a big thing and I'm always a bit wary of that, but the descriptions in the thread are piquing my interest. Plus, oh yeah, I like the idea of putting the phone down and getting into the groove.

(And I'm appalled to hear about people with their face in their phones at a GBS concert. What a waste!)
posted by immlass at 4:56 PM on May 7, 2013


I think for me Savages might be another one* of those Important bands who take themselves very seriously and of whom Sascha Frere-Jones writes very earnestly in the New Yorker but whose appeal goes right over my head (*also: Deerhoof, Tuneyards). But then, I never *really* dug Wire or Souixsie, or Franz Ferdinand for that matter, the first time around.
But yeah, spending half the show taking shitty pictures and video you're actually never going to look at again is dumb and inconsiderate.
posted by Flashman at 5:26 PM on May 7, 2013


I can see how holding up your phone for a flat 30 seconds taking video would be super annoying

That's the thing though, there are a LOT of people doing that. I've been to several shows recently where i was infuriated by the fact that seriously, what seemed like over 1/3rd of the audience had their phones out at any given time. Sure, some people were just snapping photos and putting them away, but they would instantly be replaced by someone else pulling out their phone. And there were lots of "out for 30 seconds, a minute, or the entire time" people who were constantly cyling through as well. It didn't help that this was intentionally a very dark show where they had killed the venue lights so the artist could use their really cool awesome as fuck holy shit lighting setup. I mean it's egregious at most shows, but that hammered it home for me.

It was especially noticeable a week or so later when i went to another show and almost no one had their phones out. I had a way better time even though the crowd had been seemingly way more in to it at the first show, and i was nursing a hangover.

It's just really distracting, rude, and disrespectful to everyone else in the crowd.

This isn't some "WHY CAN'T EVERYONE ELSE ENJOY THINGS THE WAY I DO" fallacious argument, it's more "why can't these people stop being rude as shit and fucking up my experience unfairly". It has nothing to do with them being "in the moment", that's a bit of a crap argument. It's about being distracted by your bright screen pulling me, and everyone else out of the moment.
posted by emptythought at 5:30 PM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's amazing that still, almost forty years on, all you need to do to be considered an arty rock band is sound like Wire. I like Savages, though. At least what little I've heard.

And I understand courtesy and respecting the performers, but for real: if people holding up little bright squares of light at loud rock shows is your idea of "rude as shit" then we have very different expectations of rock shows.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:49 PM on May 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's amazing that still, almost forty years on, all you need to do to be considered an arty rock band is sound like Wire.
posted by ovvl at 8:44 PM on May 7, 2013


if people holding up little bright squares of light at loud rock shows is your idea of "rude as shit" then we have very different expectations of rock shows.

It's laughable, especially coming from people who have decided to call themselves 'Savages'.

People used to say Beatles fans were stupid for screaming throughout the gigs. Lennon said they'd paid their money, it was their chance to go crazy, they could do what they wanted.

If you'd told any of us 20 years ago that we'd all be walking around with tiny full-HD movie cameras in our pockets, we'd have barely believed it. But it's here and the genie is out of the bottle.

'Rock' has so many affectations of authenticity and intensity and fake urgency, and this stuff about phones is just another one. Get Keeking and Vining, people.
posted by colie at 11:58 PM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love going to shows and getting bathed in the light of an iPhone being waved in front of me.
It's the best.
The very best.
posted by Mezentian at 4:34 AM on May 8, 2013


Afroblanco: "To be clear, the major crime of the cellphone videographer is BLOCKING YOUR VIEW WITH THEIR ACCURSED PHONE. The "being in the moment thing" is more of a misdemeanor."

Yeah, I don't care that other people aren't enjoying themselves the right way. I care that folks are waving their brightly lit screens (a) so brightly that it messes up my ability to see the stage and (b) positioned between me and the stage. I'll take some folk's word for it that they snap stills and move on. I don't notice that happening, so I assume the people doing it are being relatively subtle. It's the ones who keep them both on and in the air the for entire songs or concerts that burn me.

I'll be fine when we all move on to Google Glass or whatever, because, presumably, that will be less intrusive on the people around the recording. In fact, hands-free low-glare devices will probably help with the being in the moment thing too.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:07 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've often wondered about the difference in perceived cell-phone etiquette between going to see a movie and going to see a rock show. I'm sure most people taking pictures at shows wouldn't check their email while a movie was playing, or would at least recognize that doing so is considered rude (especially once I start loudly swearing at them). The principle should be sort of the same at a rock show, right? Is the difference that the show experience is supposed to be primarily auditory rather than visual?
posted by whir at 4:39 PM on May 8, 2013


it's here and the genie is out of the bottle.
This kinda techno-triumphalist horseshit makes me feel unbelievably old. IT'S POSSIBLE! SO I HAVE A RIGHT TO DO IT! OUTTA THE WAY, OLDS!

Well, you coulda said the same thing about say tobacco until fairly recently. Hey, it exists! I get to do it! Breathe somewhere else, you big baby!

note, I kinda actually believe this, but I know that battle's apparently lost.

Seriously, you need shitty phone-video to remember the show later? You ever, ever actually watch that crap? You think bands are, seriously, faking authenticity by asking people not to annoy the crap out of the band and everyone else around them with their little glowing toys? I don't even.

I guess it's similar to the threads about the Alamo Draft House's policy of prohibiting cell phone use, which tend to be full of the same incredulous, entitled bleating... BUT I NEED TO BE ABLE TO USE MY PHONE AT ALL TIMES!

I don't understand it there, and I don't understand it here either.

Also, apparently nobody here has ever heard of Robert Fripp (spellcheck certainly hasn't) who's kinda famous for walking offstage if he *suspects* someone is secretly taping him. Is he a cranky old dude? YOU'RE DAMNED RIGHT. But I'd rather have 1 of him than about 1000 dipshits 'curating' their every fucking lived second for an audience of whoever's unlucky enough to be standing behind them.

Also, re: the Warflield upthread, when I used to see shows there I was convinced they had some kinda 'free tix for industry douchebags who probably have no idea who they're seeing and either way will talk loudly through the whole show' policy, Sounds like it hasn't changed.
posted by hap_hazard at 9:38 PM on May 8, 2013


Taping Robert Fripp. Live. Yeah. Let's do that. And then we'll, oh, I don't know WATCH OURSELVES AGE. Jeez. Fuck you, Robert Fripp.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:34 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, you need shitty phone-video to remember the show later?

No, but I might like it for sharing with others who weren't lucky enough to be there, or turn it into animated gifs, or look at it 3 years later, or send it to my girlfriend, or make it my wallpaper, or compare the difference in the way the band perform it live on different occasions (cos others have posted clips from the other tour dates) or work out the correct fingering for a chord, or God knows what. It's this point again: it's not about 'the moment'. There is no 'moment'. Bands that over-romanticise 'the moment' are chasing a mirage and would be better off acknowledging the dispersed moments that will build their success and fan love.

You think bands are, seriously, faking authenticity by asking people not to annoy the crap out of the band and everyone else around them with their little glowing toys?


Again, the classic 'rock' posture that this is a serious business taking place, akin to work, rather than play and communication and general interaction. The audience have 'toys' whereas 'Savages' have expensive guitars and something important to tell us.

People used to talk and drink all the way through Shakespeare originally. They heckle comedians, sing at football matches, and scream at pop stars. I think in China they used to have pop gigs where everyone had to sit in silence and applaud at the end of songs - Fripp should perform there perhaps.
posted by colie at 11:49 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Arandomish list of other appliances one might also not be allowed to use while attending a music performance:

airhorn
handheld spotlight
steadicam
sheetrock stilts
super-soaker
1.4 watt laser
bullhorn
hurdy-gurdy
segway

BUT WHYYYY! THEY ARE TECHNOLOGY WHICH IS PORTABLE AND I BOUGHT A TICKET STOP OPPRESSING MEEEEE

Eh, I know a few bands in Minneapolis who like- nay, who expect- to be pelted with full beers and/or wadded up PBR cans while they play. It seems to encourage them somehow.

Oddly enough- and I haven't tested this much- but I expect that there might be performers of 'more serious' music who wouldn't appreciate it.

BUT THAT'S ROCK AND ROLL!

'Bullshit! Not from behind my back it ain't" they might reply, Which, hey, what a bunch of luddite control-freak bullies, I guess.

I have to admit I do wish that people in this thread had given some examples of the sorts of shows they go to w/ they iphones and whatnot. Just innocent curiousity...
posted by hap_hazard at 12:48 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to admit I do wish that people in this thread had given some examples of the sorts of shows they go to w/ they iphones and whatnot. Just innocent curiousity...

Just pop and rock music, same as everyone else in this thread (I'm assuming that classical cello recitals etc where people stifle their coughing are not the subject of the thread).

Ah, but some pop music has been officially designated as more serious and important than mine, I'm told... perhaps Prince with his songs about having lots of sex and widdling on his purple guitar... you need heavy security to smash up your phone when a guy is going on about his little Corvette etc.
posted by colie at 1:40 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your list is missing the Vuvuzela.
The single greatest innovation in soccer ever, which is perfect for any musical venue.

(New idea, the iVuvuzela app).
posted by Mezentian at 3:40 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


People used to talk and drink all the way through Shakespeare originally. They heckle comedians, sing at football matches, and scream at pop stars.

But they didn't always videotape Shakespeare, comedians, football matches, or pop stars.

I might like it for sharing with others who weren't lucky enough to be there, or turn it into animated gifs, or look at it 3 years later, or send it to my girlfriend, or make it my wallpaper, or compare the difference in the way the band perform it live on different occasions (cos others have posted clips from the other tour dates) or work out the correct fingering for a chord, or God knows what. It's this point again: it's not about 'the moment'. There is no 'moment'.

....All that we have is moments. Some of them may not be able to be recaptured and that is okay. The animated gifs and the wallpaper will not fully recreate what it was like to actually be there, it's not gonna recreate what the smell of the 10,000 excited sweaty people was like or the press of all the bodies against you or capture the flicker of all the hands around you slicing through the light as they all clapped in unison...

Are people that afraid of the ephemeral that they must try to capture and repackage and chronicle every single last thing that happens to them?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:12 AM on May 9, 2013


When photography was first invented, there were people who were afraid to have their photo taken because they thought it would steal their soul.
posted by colie at 4:46 AM on May 9, 2013


I usually take a few shitty photos with my iphone during shows. It's fun for me to scroll back through my instagram feed on a bad day and go ahh, I remember that night, it was fun.

It is annoying when people are determined to video an entire show. Maybe there should be a filmers section to accommodate those folks for performers that aren't bothered by it.

Clearly some musicians hate it. I thought this quote from Pat Metheny was interesting.

"...the Big Brother thing that was predicted, it's us."


(It's worth going back and watching the entire clip)
posted by missmerrymack at 5:12 AM on May 9, 2013


When photography was first invented, there were people who were afraid to have their photo taken because they thought it would steal their soul.

Walking over Westminster Bridge, past the Houses of Parliament, one morning, I noticed how many people were taking photographs of the building (with family members in front, of course). Thousands of photographs, all day every day. If the soul-sucking theory is right, that would have created a spiritual black hole, with so much of its soul sucked out of it that it has begun to reach out and drag into it the souls of those around it, corrupting anyone who has even the most fleeting contact.

Needless to say, I now find the soul-stealing theory of photography to be very compelling.
posted by Grangousier at 6:04 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


....That actually sounds like the seeds of a Doctor Who script right there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 AM on May 9, 2013


With reference to filming and photography at performances: when a number of people direct their attention towards a point, a performance happens. You don't even need any performers, actually (something that Beckett knew and worked with), but you do need that concentration of attention. The use of stagecraft guides and moves that attention, and the group of individuals becomes a single organism, that responds emotionally as a single organism. The result can be almost sacred. In some circumstances, not even "almost". It can make us feel unified, connected, greater than our small selves.

Even a very small number of people who aren't members of the audience - and tapers and videographers aren't a part of the audience as their attention is somewhere other than the performance - they are just people who are physically located in the audience - can easily destroy the possibility of this mildly transcendent experience. Completely. That is why people whose aim is to create something like that get so angry about it. The same way that any other person in the audience does who is less interested in joining the audience than indulging their own self-centredness - most hecklers, for example, or the people who stand with their back to the stage, blocking the view of other audience members and talking loudly about something or other.

It's OK. I mean, they're quite within their rights. But they are spoiling things in ways that their mindset (focused on what they want, and watching something happening in front of them on a tiny screen) doesn't give them the insight to see.

Which is a shame.

I'm not sure that rock gigs are capable of that transcendence any more - apart from the narcissm of the audience there is the fact that anyone under 6' 2" is unlikely to see anything, that you're basically going to spend most of the evening standing around waiting for something to happen and that the venue is mostly focused on selling bad beer at high rates - but it's important to protect preformances that are smaller, more intimate and hopefully more skilled in stagecraft from these ... let's go for some over-the-top rhetoric, shall we? ... soul sucking zombies.
posted by Grangousier at 6:32 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's this point again: it's not about 'the moment'. There is no 'moment'. Bands that over-romanticise 'the moment' are chasing a mirage and would be better off acknowledging the dispersed moments that will build their success and fan love.

Uh, maybe for you. I'm there to experience the moment. That's why I'm at a concert instead of watching a shitty cell-phone video of a concert at home. To me the issue is not about whether the band should be in control of every aspect of a performance (which, I mean, why shouldn't they, since they are the performer, but whatever). It's about audience members having respect for one another's experience of the show.
posted by whir at 8:42 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Savages record is really great (the Siouxsie/Au Pairs comparison is dead on).

I hate the flickering legions of smartphone slingers at shows, but I used to hate the annoying slow jam "raise the lighter" crew back when you could still smoke at clubs.* I am also old-ish and I think most (if not all) real-world social situations are only improved by the absence of smartphones.

I won't fight with you if you record the whole show; I probably won't even roll my eyes. But if you make passive aggressive comments about me blocking your shot during the encore, I might "accidentally" spill my beer on your 100%-Not-Dancing-But-Compulsively-Instagramming shoes.

*Perhaps smart phones have replaced cigarettes for nervous music fans unsure of what to do with their hands at crowded gigs?
posted by thivaia at 7:22 PM on May 9, 2013


We went to a Sisters of Mercy show at a TINY venue in Austin in '06 - there was a sign that said "No professional cameras, no flashes, please". I was annoyed because I had a nice 5MP point-and-shoot that would have been great and was left at home because I didn't know the camera policy before we drove from Houston; instead I had to use the camera built into my Motorola featurephone.

Ended up with these, which I ended up having printed in a poster-size mosaic that I framed and hung next to my SoM poster.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I'm glad I was allowed to take pictures *at all*.
posted by mrbill at 8:58 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was at a Dosh/Andrew Bird concert recently. Just before the show began, the staff instructed everyone to take out their phones and take photos of what was about to unfold - Dosh held up a pair of handwritten signs that said "DEAR INTERNET," / "I'M HERE. YOU'RE NOT". This was probably more of a venue thing (Shapeshifter Lab), but there were zero instances of people taking photos during the concert.
posted by rmannion at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2013


Robert Fripp (spellcheck certainly hasn't) who's kinda famous for walking offstage if he *suspects* someone is secretly taping him. Is he a cranky old dude? YOU'RE DAMNED RIGHT.

Robert Fripp & Toyah Wilcox on ‘All Star Mr & Mrs’
posted by homunculus at 3:28 PM on May 20, 2013


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