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Commentary: Moderation is key for concert cellphone use

Courtesy of MCT

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For anyone who has gone to a concert in the past 10 years, you have seen it. Everyone, from the 13-year-old, first-time concertgoer, to the college student who sold a few books to pay for a ticket, to the 30-year-old accountant, does this. They pull out their cellphones and take pictures, record songs, post statuses and even use them as fake lighters to wave around in the air during some songs.

And lately, this has become a concerning issue for many.

For the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ tour supporting its album “Mosquito,” the band has posted a sign, posted outside of its show, urging the audience not to use cellphones while at its concerts.

“Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera. Put that shit away as a courtesy to the person behind you and to Nick, Karen and Brian. Much love and many thanks! Yeah Yeah Yeahs,” the sign read. 

British band Savages had the same sentiment after its Coachella performance and posted a sign at its concert in Seattle on April 16 reading, “A note from Savages. Our goal is to discover better ways of living and experiencing music. We believe that the use of phones to film and take pictures during a gig prevents all of us from totally immersing ourselves. Let’s make this a special evening. Silence your phones.”

Savages’ sign might have been a smidgen kinder than the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ sign, but the same message is there: LCD screens are no way to watch a live show. 

That point is completely valid too. Getting stuck behind someone who won’t put their phone away is really annoying, but I would rather get stuck behind an obnoxious picture-taker than a more than six-foot-tall guy whose torso I can’t see around.

Even venues and arenas can’t seem to get it together and make a clear rule for cellphones. Nationwide Arena will be amping up its cellphone coverage in the arena, and the notorious dead zones in the building will soon have lightning-fast 4G, according to “Columbus Business First.” 

Even at its finest, an iPhone won’t be taking as nice of photos as professionals will and, at your finest, all you are doing is giving the person behind you a nice look at the back of your raised arm. Odds are, you aren’t even going to look at half of the 100 photos you took or sit in your room and listen to the horrible-sounding recording you now have. So just go ahead and wait to see the nice photos the next day. Use those.

But really, who wins with this request to leave cellphones at home?

If someone really wants to take a photo to remember the night, they are going to take it, rules or no rules. They bought the ticket, and they can take a photo. Unless you can get an entire arena full of fans to heed to your rules, it won’t matter. 

But in all seriousness, excessive cellphone usage also makes for a terrible concertgoing experience. When nothing but shining cellphones are in front of you, rather than just the musician, it can be distracting.

It’s aggravating knowing I paid for a concert and I am forced to endure the girl next to me taking a thousand pictures of the stage, the band, the band again, her friends, her and her friends, back to the band, back to her friends. You cannot enjoy a concert that way, and not only am I not getting my money’s worth out of the concert, but they are not either.

The person behind you hates your cellphone, Rob Zombie hates your cellphone (seriously), and nearly every person who is not you thinks your video looks blurry. 

Moderation, people. Moderation is the key. 

Take a photo, remember the night and be done. 

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