Mind Your Fucking iPhones
For as long as tattooed cool kids have piled onto stages and jammed their little hearts out, there have been jerks in the crowd spewing bad vibes and threatening to ruin everyone's night. Whether it's the grown man who throws elbows at teenagers to get to the front, the drunk couple who's dry-humping and/or fighting throughout the set, the person heckling the opener for no good reason or the guy yelling at the solo performer to play that one hit from his other band, there will always be that self-absorbed idiot who lacks concern for anyone's show-going experience but his or her own.
But it's 2012, so those inconsiderate showgoers have smart phones. These amazing, near-magical devices that allow us to check-in, Tweet our friends to find them at the show and sometimes even pay our tabs, can not only make our lives easier and more fun, but allow us to record and document every minute of our mundane existences.
These obsessive documentarians not only sacrifice your showgoing experience, as they block your field of vision with touch screens and elbows while filling the venue with countless rectangles of ambient light that distract from the glow of the stage, but they eschew their own, opting instead to participate from the distance provided by an oversized viewfinder. They watch the action through their screen instead of participating in the moment. And what do they have to show for it? Awful footage and terrible photos, perfect mementos for a show they didn't really attend.
At about 6:20, Ryan Adams calls out amateur photographers rather eloquently. Ironically, this video was likely captured via cell phone.
Full disclosure: I have an iPhone, and I'm one of those endlessly irritating people who photographs their food and posts it to Instagram. I understand that urge to reach for the phone and share one's visual memoirs, however prosaic, with your Internet pals. However, there's no Hipstamatic filter capable of turning your concert iPhone photography into anything more than a silhouette or a blurry outline. And with DSLR cameras being almost as ubiquitous as smart phones, it's guaranteed that someone, often a talented, professional concert photographer, will be present taking beautifully composed, high resolution photographs that can be found online within hours of the show.
You can listen to that band at home, and you can even make your own setlist. But you can never replicate the experience of being there, at that particular show with that precise group of people, connecting with the performers and the audience. That can't be duplicated, even in wonderful, professional photographs. Those faint beams of light are little intrusions that pull us out of the moment and make truly immersing oneself in the performance difficult to impossible -- both from the concert-goer and the performer's perspectives. Put it down. Look up. Enjoy the freedom of just watching, just experiencing, just being there, just not being that person who everyone in the venue without an iPhone in hand secretly wants to punch in the teeth.
So, what do you think? Do you agree? Are we just cranky old farts? Share your opinions in the comments.