Are phones entirely necessary at gigs?
If you are a regular Night Vibe column reader, you will remember a few months ago I alerted you to the extensive rise of ticket costs around Australia. From Rod Laver to the Corner, tickets are getting more and more expensive as the economy fluctuates. Now my beef this week isn’t with the ticket prices themselves, it is with people going to concerts and pulling out their phones to film sections of the performance. Now this isn’t a dig at the people that just film say 15 or 30 seconds of a particular song, but having gone to a few concerts over January, particularly James Bay and George Ezra, the amount of smartphones being produced at gigs is definitely on the rise.
In 2015, yes it is inevitable that people will bring out their smartphones to record their favourite performers. It’s a part of every day life and the immediacy in which we want news. Whether our Facebook or Instagram apps are opened in the background, we want our friends to know what we are doing and when we are doing it. Now in big venues such as Rod Laver or Falls Festival in large open spaces, filming things on your phone isn’t that bad. Furthermore, the purpose of this column isn’t to say that filming is a bad thing, yet why would you spend all your precious coins on tickets to your favourite bands to just stand up the front and record every single waking moment of the performance on your phone? Sure, if you upload it to Facebook for friends overseas to see or whatever, then that’s cool, but I guarantee you that 100% of the things that I have filmed on my phone haven’t been viewed later. In the moment we all want to capture things on our phones, but more often than not it just becomes lost in the aftermath.
When I went to see George Ezra at the Corner, it was quite a special moment, first tour of Australia out here for Falls Festival and a few sideshows, great. Tremendous voice and can play the guitar a hell of a lot. His most famous song for those out of the loop is ‘Budapest’. After the release of his album Wanted on Voyage, and leading up to his few shows in our country, commercial radio started to play his track. Now for all of those aware and have read my past articles, there isn’t too much variety on those commercial networks. In all reality, it’s great for him to be earning a few bucks from having his awesome song played all over the place. However, when he launched into it at the Corner at least ¾ of the room all pulled out their smartphones to film the whole performance of it.
I didn’t pull out my phone, nor will I ever at a venue of that size, because it is about the raw emotion of the performance and the intimacy of being at one with the artist. The other side of the coin is that bands can no longer be premiering new material on forthcoming albums because it will be on Youtube the next day. Talking to Aussie blues legend Jimi Hocking the other day, when he was performing with the Screaming Jets, they debuted a new song and sure enough next day, it was online. The problem that arises from that is sometimes these songs aren’t 100% fully finished and may be changed when they head into the studio to record the next album. No longer is there any privacy to what a band will be releasing, which is a really sad aspect to the music industry in 2015.
Jack White, as revolutionary as he is, has previously asked patrons to deposit their phones in a plastic tub before entering the venue to combat this. Obviously they can’t do this at every venue, yet when you are out with mates watching a band, maybe just all join in a circle and live in the moment a bit. Remember with your eyes what you are experiencing, rather than being like all the rest.
By Tex Miller / thenightvibe.com.au