Question Of The Week: Reviled Mobile Or Swell Cell?
Ah, the personal mobile device: our best friend and worst enemy. So useful but addictive; a source of convenience and a conduit for bad manners. It’s a memory machine — good ones for you, bad ones for those in your proximity. I mean, its essence it is expressed by its best function: a smart phone is a portable porn machine, something both awesome and extremely dangerous. That sums it up.
For metal people, the problem of the mobile phone mostly touches our concert experiences. And this week, members of metal bands endorsed and condemned its use in the live music environment. So that’s today’s QOTW — Is it okay to wave around your glowing pocket computer during a show? Does your ticket entitle you to do whatever? Do bands get a say?
Inspired by this week’s opposing statements on a new technology that has changed concertgoing, we asked our staff:
Is there ever a good enough reason to use your mobile device during a live performance?
Videos. Texts. Clockwatching. We’re all tempted. But is it ever okay?
I don’t get why a 17-year-old dude in a hoodie would pay $45 for the Red Bull/Rockstar Energy Extreme Extremefest just to dick around on his phone. But I don’t get why anyone would care. If someone chooses to waste a lot of money on a show they aren’t watching, why not let them, you know, do that? And, is it fair for a band to say, “We want this set to be for this room full of strangers but NOT for strangers elsewhere!”? It may not be. Plus the sound quality of a “pirated” clip is abysmal anyway. There are still plenty of people — like me! — who would rather wait until your next release to hear that new song in earnest. Or come to one of your shows! That is, if I can have my phone. My wife could go into labor at any time. That or I need to see if my buddy from Vermont could grab that case of Heady Topper. Significant emergencies, basically. Also, my wife’s not pregnant, and doesn’t exist.
This question randomly reminded me: In 1988, Bon Jovi gave his crowd mini video cameras so they could crowd source their video for “Bad Medicine.” So, Monolith Deathcult, your idea is 24 years late. But with phones: 1) If you’re near the stage, you get one song to record before you’re a dick. 2) Texting near stage … keep it brief/emergencies. 3) Back of room? You’re not bothering anyone — go nuts. But 4) Anyone recording with an iPad can be pummeled without consequence. Oh, and on the stealing: I’ve discovered a lot of bands through shaky YouTube fan vids. So don’t hate too much.
Is this a thing people care about? I don’t use my phone at all during shows — I already stated in a recent QOTW that I’d rather live the moment fully than take time out to save an electronic memory — but I’ve seen lots of people do it and I’ve never given a shit. Is it rude to the band? Sure, sometimes it is, and maybe you’re a douche for being that way. But hey bands: Suck it up! I’ve seen high profile singer/songwriters play solo acoustic guitar in crowded bars while people a couple dozen feet away carry on full conversations. The background-noise-to-music volume ratio is a lot greater in these circumstances, and the performers give it their all for the ones who do care. In the grand scheme, this feels like a pretty petty concern. Did I even answer the question?
Many of us at MS aren’t able to answer this without bias, because we’re metal journalists and bloggers and whatnot, so it’s necessary to take photos or notes with our devices during a show. But otherwise, it’s all right at times. Different situations call for different reactions. Not all shows are created equal, and there are some where time spent Instragramming the band is worth the time you have to look away from them. Besides, it’s a good way to promote fledgling bands. Don’t get me wrong, some asshole will always have his phone out the entire set, and sure, he’s an asshole, but truly: Your band doesn’t want fans messing around on their phones during your set? Then be really, really goddamn good. Then, people won’t want to look away.
I ask for the same rules at a show as at the movie theater: Turn that shit off. Light and noise are distracting to your neighbors. Need to text somebody? Wait a few minutes for the break. Want to snap a pic? Resist. Got some business to attend to? Head to the bar/lobby/concourse. Bored? Get higher. But while you’re in the crowd and a band is performing, deactivate your device completely so its vibrations can’t tempt you. To me, the question is this: Are you a fan of music, or a fan of displaying evidence of your music fandom? A doer or a talker? A rocker or a poser? Can’t be both.
DAVID LEE ROTHMUND
Anybody who pulls out a phone during a concert should be punched into the pit. Then you’d have a good video.