Morning Express with Robin Meade

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Cellphones are ruining concerts

I know a lot of you are upset that Apple and Google have been tracking you on your smart phone.

But here’s my question: why can’t they use some of that technology to stop people from taping live shows? If they can tell you’re at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Kokomo, Indiana, they should be able to tell you’re at a concert and use some thingamabob to shut your phone down until it’s over.
Photo by Ariana McLaughlin/CNN
Photo by Ariana McLaughlin/CNN

Cell phones have ruined the concert experience.

The second the lights go down, thousands of illuminated smart phone screens take their place. Folks hit record and start taking amateur videos of their favorite band or singer. We’ve become so overtaken by things, we don’t even watch live events in real time anymore.

A friend and I went to a Mint Condition concert a few weeks ago where this phenomenon was especially prevalent. The band was playing its heart out. There were guitar solos, sax solos—even a drum duet. Most of the crowd just sat there filming everything. I guess they watched the concert after they got home and uploaded it. When you go to a rockin’ show, you should leave hoarse, covered in sweat and exhausted. This crowd looked more rested than when they arrived. No wonder the band did a short show that night. There was no crowd energy to feed off of.

The sound of applause has been replaced by the muted tones of thumbs slapping against cell phone buttons. Uproarious crowd participation is dying out because folks have a tough time singing along while trying to find a good shot. For the most part, all that fuss doesn’t even produce good videos! I don’t want to hear you talk about how cute the singer’s hair is, or hear your drunk friend yell “WOOOOO!” louder than the song that’s being performed.

It’s affected our storytelling. We no longer re-enact what we see at these shows. Remember when you would describe the stage, the lighting and the set list with enthusiasm and wild hand gestures? It used to be fun to imitate a guitar solo or trying to describe a note the singer hit. Nowadays when someone asks, “How was the concert last night?” we’ll tell them to Youtube it. Where’s the excitement in that?

Since Apple and Google probably won’t make that doohickey anytime soon, try turning your phone off the next time you go to a concert. You’ll get the most out of the experience. Plus, you and whoever you came with can have fun acting it out again when the show’s over. But if you still regret not recording it, several shaky amateur videos will await you online.

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