The No-Smartphones-At-Shows Movement Gathers Momentum

We’ve all seen them:  tourists who miss their entire vacation because they’re so damned concerned about getting everything on video.  And I’ll bet you’ve made fun of these people, too.  

But how are they any different from people who insist on watching a gig through the tiny screen of their smartphones?

The first person I ever heard rail against the use of smartphones in concert was Billie Joe Armstrong more than five years ago.  “BE IN THE MOMENT!  PUT DOWN YOUR PHONES!  YOU’RE AT A ROCK’N’ROLL SHOW.”  You rock, Billie.

Things have picked since then, too.  The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have famously asked crowds to put down their phones in respect to the band and everyone who does want to enjoy the gig.

And now, the National Post mentions this about the recent “secret” Stones show in LA:

Cameras and smartphones weren’t allowed inside the Echoplex, which usually plays host to hipster bands and mash-up dance parties. The lack of personal recording devices made the Stones’ performance feel even more exclusive and old school, freeing concertgoers’ hands of the gizmos that have become commonplace at concerts nowadays, and further bonding the crowd, many of whom built up camaraderie during the confusing ticket lottery earlier in the day.

I’m SO behind this.  More people need to put down their goddam phones and enjoy the f**kin’ show.  Love it.

Call me old-school, but I cannot understand why people feel the need to video moments in their lives that they should be living. 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

5 thoughts on “The No-Smartphones-At-Shows Movement Gathers Momentum

  • May 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Can't be bothered to actually video a show but a couple photos just for a record of the event I don't find to be a big deal. There is no way I'm going to watch an entire show on my phone though. Too much would be missed.

    Of course there is the opportunity that I can sell a clip of Billie Joe falling off the stage to TMZ for a few bucks.

  • May 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Totally agree.

    I'm guilty of snapping a few pics, but have never tried to video, and mock those that do.

  • May 2, 2013 at 1:21 am

    The pics are always shit. Always. Even when you're first row they suck. People learn from experience, but it's taking a while.

  • May 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I think it's fine if they want to ban phones at shows. However, we ALL look to YouTube for footage of a band we missed or an artist falling off the stage. Moreover, some bands developed thriving trading communities of live bootlegs by allowing recording of their shows.
    I think if bands don't want people watching a show through their phones, they should take it up on themselves to live stream and upload footage from their shows.
    It'll be interesting the day I see someone get hassled by security for having a phone as opposed to smoking or drug use.

  • May 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    If I am not allowed to bring my phone in, I will not go in. Not because I want to record the show, more so because I need to have my phone with me. What other options do we have?

    Leave it in the car? – We'll see how secure the parking lots around shows are I guess as knowing thieves break into cars looking for those $600 iPhones.

    Leave it at home? – a cell phone is a great first line of response if you;re in trouble but not if its at home.

    No my phone comes with me.

    P is right to point out the vibrant bootleg communities that exist to a band's benefit not their detriment. Looking into an audience and seeing a bunch of people holding up their phones is the new reality. Like it or not. Its not my choice for enjoying the moment but in the end, who cares HOW someone enjoys the moment. Isn't that their choice.


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