Arts, Music, Off Campus, Column

A Concerted Effort: Phones and the Concert Experience

One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the other by the end of this column? Guitars shredding, the lead singer dancing across the stage, good music, and VIDEO-TAPING THE ENTIRE CONCERT ON A GIANT IPAD. Did you guess which thing was not like the others? Did you guess which thing just doesn’t belong? If you guessed that the last one is not like the others, then you’re absolutely right.

It seems that at any age, Elmo and his friends on their agricultural boulevard have words of wisdom they may impart to us. It is these words, in song form, that I would like to sing to a few key people who seem to attend every concert I’ve been to.

Last weekend, I went to the House of Blues to see George Clinton and his two sister bands, Parliament and Funkadelic. They are both funk bands from the ’70s and I rather enjoy their music. I figured I should see them before the literal kilos of cocaine that Clinton has snorted finally caught up with him.

My friend and I arrived at the venue and got in, no problem. We watched the opening act, The Nephrok! Allstars, who were actually really good. No problem. When Clinton and his fellow band members came on, everyone was very excited.

Let me take a moment to describe the crowd. This was a band from the ’70s, so there were a lot of people who had clearly been big P-Funk fans for the last 40 years. But surprisingly, there were also a substantial number of young people. I thought to myself, “Wow, look at all of these different groups of people coming together to enjoy good music.” What I soon realized was that not everyone was there to enjoy the music, and in fact they were going to try their darnedest to prevent me from enjoying it too.

Back to the concert. The band began to jam, and it was quite funky indeed. As this was a funky band with funky fans, people began to enjoy the medicinal herbs of their choice. Fine. You do you, I don’t really care. It’s a concert, everyone knows what they’re getting into. What I do have a problem with is people being inconsiderate. While my friend and I were jamming out, along with the people around, two guys squeezed in front of us. Again, fine. People move around in general admission. What pulled my friend and I, along with others behind these two guys, out of the concert was when these two people pulled out the largest size of  iPhone available. I understand that you want to take pictures of the concert, maybe to better remember it by. That’s okay. What is not okay is proceeding to Snapchat, record, and photograph the entirety of the concert. I don’t want to watch the concert through the screen of your iPhone, but when you’re standing in front of me holding the device up with two hands, I don’t have many other options.

While in this same spot, I was engaged in conversation by a lady standing next to me. Now I don’t mind if people talk during a concert. I talk during concerts. What I don’t do is try to maintain an ongoing and meaningful discussion with the person next to me during the best parts of a song. If you want to talk between songs, go ahead. If you and the people you came with want to talk during songs, I don’t understand you, but go ahead. But don’t talk to or distract someone you don’t know during the middle of a song. My friend missed an amazing guitar solo by one of the Nephrok! Allstars because someone was trying to talk to him. It’s infuriating. What’s worse is that in order to be heard in the middle of a song, you have to yell directly into someone’s ear. This is both annoying and uncomfortable. The hot, steamy breath of an intoxicated person blowing directly into my ear makes me cringe even now.

This may seem like I’m just on my soapbox complaining, and I am. But what I am also doing is writing a direct address to any of you concert goers who are guilty of these things. Most people go to concerts to listen to the music and watch the performance. Some don’t, and that’s fine. But before you block someone’s view with the largest smartphone or engage someone you don’t know in conversation, consider the feelings and desires of those around you. It’s also illegal so there’s that.

Featured Image By Associated Press

March 2, 2017