Musical Rant: The Great Phone Debate

The lineup for this year’s Lollapalooza has been announced. That means people are getting their tickets and planning their outfits. It also means it’s time for the classic debate: Are cellphones okay at concerts? It happens at all shows, but it seems that hating those who record or take photos of the performance is becoming more pronounced. It’s gotten to the point where several artists have spoken out against it.

Many like to blame the behavior on society’s unhealthy obsession with technology. Others blame it on youngsters who can’t “live in the moment” or don’t know any better. I’ve been to a lot of concerts and understand why people hate this behavior. While I do agree with it on some points, my other thought is is it really all that bad? Why is it bad to take a picture of an awesome event or your favorite band right before your eyes? Don’t you want to show it off to your friends and talk about the great time you had? I get it, there are some people who keep their phones up for the entire performance and yes, that’s really annoying and rude, but not everyone does that.

There’s also this issue of over-sharing. Some argue there will be tons of people taking pictures meaning there will be the same photos floating around. Yes, lots of people want to post whatever they got from a concert online, but some also want them for personal memories. I rarely post my concert photos online, unless I have to for an article I’m writing. I may share them with friends and family, but that’s it. I mainly enjoy flipping through them and remembering how awesome the show was. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking some pictures and maybe even a video as a keepsake.

I have no shame in taking pictures at concerts mainly because I do a lot of write ups for them and need to have some pictures of my own. Sure, there’ll be tons of higher quality, professional ones, but there’s something so satisfying about having a photo you took. When you look at a photo you took there are so many memories connected to it. You remember where you were standing, maybe even what song was being played. There are far more annoying things at concerts than taking pictures, like those who take selfies, text, or talk during the performance, yet we really hear about those. That being said, that doesn’t mean people who are taking photos/video should keep up their phones during the entire performance. That’s just rude.

Now artists are lashing out against those who use phones at their shows and this is where the main problem comes in. Corey Taylor isn’t shy about his hatred of cell phone use at Slipknot shows. In an interview last year, he admitted how once he dumped four bottles of water on a girl for using her phone. He said “And then she was just bummed for the rest of the night, and I just kept shrugging at her, going, ‘Hey, it’s a live show. Pay attention, or don’t be here.” A similar incident occurred during an Every Time I Die show when a fan leaped on stage to take a picture with the singer. The guitarist then kicked the phone out of his hand. I get it, the fan’s behavior was wrong. No one should be jumping up on stage unless the band prompts them to, but it was also wrong of him to kick the phone. Security could’ve escorted the guy offstage, but instead his property was almost damaged and the band probably had no plans on replacing it. It’s not only rude, but it makes him look like a huge asshole to his fans. Luckily, the guy’s phone was fine and he got the picture he wanted, but not all encounters end like this. Artists shouldn’t feel entitled to take extreme measures just to get someone off the phone.

There are better ways to handle these situations or you can just ignore it. I know it’s a shitty solution, but you can’t stop everyone from using their phones. And that’s how some people enjoy their entertainment. If they miss something because of it oh well, their loss. Sometimes asking fans to put down the phone will get your point across loud and clear. I do agree that fans should take a moment and practice some etiquette when it comes to taking pictures/video, but with so many people you can’t expect everyone to follow the rules.