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The Blue & Gray Press | October 19, 2017

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Smartphones detrimental to concert viewing

By ADAM STERGISsmartphonesweb

Smartphones are often cited as a developing problem among youth, and the epidemic is apparent almost everywhere.

The devices are proving to be a large problem for music venues.

At any given concert, an attendee can expect to see a sea of glowing screens honed in on the performing act. In light of this trend, many venue managers and avid concertgoers raised the question as to whether this is appropriate or not.

On Nov. 9, I traveled to Philadelphia to see the hugely influential shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine, who previously were dormant for over ten years.

The group has a rich history of creating a dreamlike live experience with an onslaught of fuzzy guitars and reverb-laden singing.

However, the overall experience was somewhat dampened by those in the crowd taking selfies on their smartphones in order to immortalize how excited they are.

This “memory-making” distracts from actually watching the band perform.

It was somewhat disheartening to see so many people staring at such a rare performance through a 5 inch screen instead of taking in the full experience to form a cherished, lifelong memory.

Violinist James Ehnes wrote in the Huffington Post, that while recording and uploading a performance may lead to more fans, it also takes the viewer out of the immersive experience that artists put hard work into crafting.

Additionally, recording concerts can also have a cumulative negative effect on the livelihood of musicians. Ehnes raises the point that buying a concert ticket is intended for that performance to be experienced only once.

For example, if a band were to try out performing a new song live, and it gets uploaded to YouTube, people will not be nearly as excited to hear the recorded version of that song because they already own a live version of it for months.

In an interview with WTOP, Ian MacKaye, vocalist of the punk bands Fugazi and Minor Threat, stated that audience participation is what makes a concert great.

It should not be the sole responsibility of the band to make the performance an exciting, memorable event.

The involvement of people around you immersed in such energetic, artistic expression is what makes concerts such a powerful experience.

Banning the use of smartphones in a concert setting is unrealistic and a far too extreme solution to the divisive social phenomenon.

It boils down to an issue of etiquette and respect that one should consider before reaching into their pocket in the middle of an artist’s performance.

Surely a picture or two before the band take the stage would not be of much harm to anyone, so this may be an opportune time to capture that feeling of excitement rather than potentially breaking the mood during the band’s set.

It may be tempting to make Facebook peers jealous once that favorite song starts, but surely it can wait until the next morning.