A real life Black Mirror episode in today’s concert culture.
Written and Photographed by: Mica Kendall
Statistically it is said that in a person's final 7 minutes while the brain is still actively functioning a person can experience chronological life flashbacks relating to all of their pivotal memories before death consumes the brain whole. Too bad when we die only the memories in our head will be accessible to play back, not the memories located within our phone.
Our current generation, especially in the concert scene specifically, seems to heavily rely on the usage of photos and videos almost as a bragging right just to be utilized for social media purposes. The irony behind this constant need to maintain social media status is how it technically has no purpose at all with our forms of media being a small .mov file occupying storage on our phones.
The reasonable counter argument is how it's not everyday a person gets to see their favorite band perform live. One could argue that there is no harm in wanting to record a couple of your favorite songs since you made the investment in buying a ticket to the show; however, the excessitivity of recording an entire show, with one’s phone in front of their face for an hour long set, is going to become the downfall of experiencing live music.
Not only does the person behind the high raised arm containing an iPhone 7 plus in their hand hate the obscurity of their view while trying to watch the set, the majority of artists performing the set hate seeing fans, with their phones out for the entire show. A popular and well known anti phones example is frontman Matty Healy from the 1975. I’ve seen the 1975 live since their 2014 spring show to their last spring tour of 2017, and throughout the years Healy’s disdain for phone’s has remained the same. There’s countless videos of Healy shouting “Put your phones down” or “I want to see your face not your fucking phone.” He even asks the crowd during “Me,” one of his most personal songs, to put their phones away for at least one song as a plea for a sense of respect.
As the number of phones held in the air during a concert continue to exponentially increase each year, it also seems the personal connection between the fans and performers during a live show seem to grow further and further apart, since the performer has nothing to look at in the crowd except for an iPhone. Some artists have even taken initiative in implementing a no phone policy at their shows, like Alicia Keys and Jack White, who believe the ban of phones at live shows will create a more “human experience” with their fans.
Logically, the situation with phones at shows is correlative to the popularity of the band or artist. Some of the worst iPhone populated shows I’ve been to include: The 1975, Twenty One Pilots, Lana Del Rey, and Halsey, where sometimes phones were physically placed on top of my head, so the person behind me could continue recording their full length video. The sea of iPhones that surrounds me at these popularized shows is honestly disturbing and makes me feel like I’m in a crowd of robots only focused on getting the best view for their video.
Satirically, the concert scene is more applicable to a Black Mirror episode more than ever, with the obsession of who can get the most likes and retweets on Twitter for their front row view at a show, or who can get the artist to wave directly at their phone so their video can go viral. It’s become disheartening to not be able to fully enjoy a show, when you can see someone’s phone screen in front of you better than the actual artist, but in all honesty it's expected in such a dominant technology and social media age we live in.
Even though there is realistically no possible way to stop an entire crowd from using their phone at a show, I would advise people that are dependent on their phones to start dancing or even moshing at a show because it's honestly a liberating experience to feel connected to the music physically instead of virtually. The memories we keep in our head are what will last us for the rest of our life, not the memories enrooted on your iPhone because I’m pretty sure you can't carry your iPhone on your way to the golden gates of heaven or fiery depths of hell when you die.
Nevertheless, live music is called live for a reason because it's happening literally live in the moment and until society can collectively appreciate live music through their eyes instead of their phone screens, the concert scene will be stuck in a permanent, negative ending, Black Mirror episode.