Cell Phones Banned from Upcoming MN Show – Would You Attend?
Back in February, I had an awful concert experience.
My wife gave me tickets for Christmas to see one of my favorite artists at Myth in St. Paul. I'd been following this artist for years, loved his music, and wanted so badly to see him in concert. My wife knew that. She also knew she probably wouldn't enjoy this particular show, and gave up her ticket so I could take a friend with me. She was very gracious, and her gestures meant the world.
The night of the show, my friend and I arrived at Myth just before the opening act started. The place was already packed, but we managed to squeeze our way about halfway up to the stage. We were surrounded by people, and I was beginning to feel slightly claustrophobic. But I had a pretty good view of the stage and knew seeing this artist would make it all worthwhile. The opening act wrapped up, the lights went dark, the music for the headliner started, the lights went up...
...and I couldn't see anything.
Rows and rows of cell phones in the air blocked my view of the artist I'd come to see, the artist my wife had paid no small amount of money for me to see and given up her ticket so my friend could see with me.
For the next hour, I stood on my toes, craning my neck and bobbing my head around people's phones as they photographed, video'd, streamed and posted to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat or whatever other platform they were preoccupied with. At one point, a girl ahead of me had both of her hands up, filming on phones in each. I saw another fan with her phone recording in the air, attached to a mobile battery pack.
I couldn't believe what was happening. Instead of watching my favorite artist on stage in front of me with my own eyes, I was watching him through the screens of other people's devices.
It was the worst concert experience I've ever had.
Believe it or not, this post isn't my opportunity to rant about an awful experience. If I wanted to do that, I'd be ending it here.
Rather, I share my experience as a prime example of why Jack White's no-cellphones allowed tour is a worthwhile idea.
Jack White -- singer/songwriter/musician/producer and frontman of The White Stripes -- kicks off a 40-show North American Tour next month (including a MN stop at Minneapolis' Armory October 6).
What makes his tour interesting is that White has announced all cell phones will be banned.
“No photos, video or audio recording devices allowed,” a statement reads.
As you can imagine, that's ruffling some feathers. “We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON.”
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, White said, "...it’s funny. I go to movies and everyone turns their phone off. You go to the symphony, there’s no phones. Church, no phones. There’s all these places where it’s already happening. So let’s try a rock ’n’ roll concert and see what happens."
As to how White intends to implement this cell phone ban, all shows will be facilitated by Yondr. Yondr creates "phone-free spaces" by asking owners to put their cell phone in a cell phone case. That case is then locked, and the user gets to keep their phone -- in the case -- with them for the show. At the end of the concert, the owner simply taps the case against an unlocking base (think the ink tags in a clothing retail store) stationed around the venue to unlock the case before returning it. A nuisance and extra amount of work? Perhaps. But worth it for a distraction-free concert? I absolutely think so.
Jack's not the only advocate of phone-free spaces, and this concert tour won't be the only place Yondr has been utilized. Their services have been used everywhere from concerts to comedy clubs, schools to weddings, courthouses to personalized events.
"I want people to live in the moment," White says, "and it’s funny that the easiest way to rebel is to tell people to turn off their phone. If your phone is that important to you that you can’t live without it for two hours then I don’t know. Maybe it’s time to see a therapist.”
In conclusion, here's my final two cents worth -- next time you're at a concert, please please be considerate of the people around you. You don't know who came to see their favorite artist. You don't know who's parent, spouse or best friend paid money for them to see that show. You don't know how your behavior might be ruining someone else's experience.
So be considerate. Be the concert-goer you want everyone else to be. Do your part to create the best environment and experience for yourself and the people around you.
It's not about you.