Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Wednesday Whine | Live Music #1

I love live music; there's just something about seeing a live band that brings their music to life. Being surrounded by people who all share a similar passion really excites me and I'll happily watch bands in all kinds of venues from stadiums to the back room of a dingy pub.

Having said that, in the past few years the experience of seeing live music has changed massively and in the next few editions of Wednesday Whine I'm going to tell you how.

Today's topic is mobile phones, cell phones, smart phones - whatever you want to call them. We've all got them and we all use them far more than we should. Hell, the first thing I do when I wake up isn't roll over and hug the person beside me, it's check my social media feeds. I hate myself for it and it's something I hope to change about myself but I'm putting it out there straight away - I too am addicted to my phone!

The thing is, there's a time and place. Remember the days when if you took a camera to a concert the steward would tell you to put it away (I remember those days because I was once one of those stewards and I had great fun preventing teenage girls from taking photos of their favourite boy band... *cue evil laughter*!) There were always signs saying you couldn't film the band but the advent of mobile phone technology has done away with that and the world and his wife are now free to take as many grainy gig photos and unwatchable phone footage as they like.

"What is so wrong with this?!" I hear you cry. Well, for starters it's a distraction to anyone standing behind you! If someone in front of me is taking photos or videoing the band I'm watching I can't help but be distracted. Sometimes I wonder what phone they have as the quality looks quite good, or I might inwardly scoff at their attempts to get a clear pic from 100 feet away whilst strobe lighting is doing it's thing. I once saw someone taking photos with a 10" tablet - really?! Put the damn thing down!

I used to be guilty of trying to take photos with my phone and sometimes I would get a good shot and other times it was difficult to tell if it was a famous rock singer or a roadie. Here is a selection of some of my better photos (so you can guess how bad the bad ones are!)

Holding your phone in the air for 90 minutes isn't just a distraction to the people behind you, it's a distraction to the band or artist you've come to see. If the audience are all filming in one way or another then they aren't there in the moment, enjoying what they're seeing and hearing now; they're saving it for later. That can be quite off-putting. A friend of mine who is a singer said that when people are taking photos she's thinking about what she looks like, how she sounds and why that person is filming; is it because she's off key? Will it end up on Facebook or YouTube?! Of course, massive artists like Beyonce, Foo Fighters, One Direction, they're not going to give a jot whether your crappy phone footage ends up on Facebook with the caption "look at this mess", but smaller less established artists are worrying about it and it isn't fair.

Aside from distracting the artist when you use your phone at a gig you are depriving yourself of the joy of the music. Let's face it, how many times are you going to look at that grainy footage in the future? The likelihood is you're going to delete it because it's inaudible! Here is some footage I took of Robin Beck (of Diet Coke ad fame) last year. I was right at the front and yet you can't hear a word she is singing! I've also never watched this video since I filmed it, except to upload it to YouTube to prove a point. I wasted time filming and taking poor quality photos instead of immersing myself in the music.

I'll be honest, I'm more concerned about the impact people filiming on their phones has on me personally because it's a massive distraction. I'm selfish and I've often paid a lot of money to see a band perform. The last thing I want to see if the gig through someone else's camera because they're too rude to put the damn thing away!

In short, put your phone down, enjoy the moment and stop ruining live music for me! Yours selfishly,


  1. I see what you are saying and you have a really good point, it's the same when you go and watch your child in their school lay. As soon as they start singing out come all the phones and cameras and you can't see anything, especially if your child is in the back row!

  2. I used to always want to snap some images or videos at the concert, but then I realised I couldn't remember hearing the songs I had recorded. Now I leave my camera at home and my phone in my bag!

  3. What a great post! I have to agree that when I go and watch shows, I become extremely irritated by the 6 foot guy in front of me watching the show via his phone of which he uses to record with. The quality must be so shocking, especially if you are standing at the very front of the stage that I wonder why people bother if all they end up with is grainy 'subby' videos of which you can't make out which band it is you've caught on film.

    Having said that, the musician inside me is kind of Okay with people recording our shows. Providing they aren't getting in the way of other fans and the quality is going to be watchable it's alright. The same goes for taking photographs. We have a lot of professional photographers at our shows which is fine. They tend to keep themselves out of the way and they know what they are doing, but we do also end up with some terrible blurry shots of ourselves plastered over the internet. Some of them are pretty unflattering but I guess that goes with the territory.

    So yes, I agree with you as a fan watching my favorite bands! But as a performer I can deal with it.

    Amie | Hellbentforlipstick

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