Back in the day, the concert-going experience was about living in the moment. It was about watching your favorite artist perform your favorite songs. It was about standing side-by-side with hundreds or possibly thousands of fellow fans, some of whom would become friends before the night ended and the final curtain closed. Since many venues restricted concertgoers from taking pictures during the show, lasting memories were seared into minds instead of onto film.
And now? Suffice to say, shit's changed.
Attending a concert or festival is no longer about living in the moment, it's about filming the moment so that you can show all your friends on social media that you were in attendance. As a result of cameras being added to cell phones, attendees have long since ditched their stand-alone digital cameras—which at one time replaced 35mm film cameras—making it virtually impossible for venues to enforce a no-camera policy. Good luck getting teenagers to buy concert tickets if it comes with the stipulation that they cannot film every performance to share on Instagram or Snapchat.
On Tuesday evening (March 7), before his performance at The Observatory in Santa Ana, California, TDE emcee Isaiah Rashad spotted a tweet by a concertgoer who had expressed disappointment over his iPhone camera not functioning properly.
His response was spot-on:
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I'm not sure God cares about rap concerts, but Isaiah is absolutely right.
Considering most of us feel naked if we walk out our front door these days without our cell phone in our possession, it's understandable that concertgoers might feel some type of way if their cell phones aren't functioning properly or are taken away before the start of a show. As someone who religiously attended concerts for the first 17 years of his life without a cell phone and an additional five years without a cell phone that had a camera, though, I can confidently write that the overall experience is not in any way, shape, or form diminished.
To be clear, if a fan pays for a concert ticket with their hard-earned money, they should be able to take dimly-lit photos and crappy, grainy videos to their heart's content, and considering general admission tickets for Rashad's Santa Ana show were being sold on the secondary market for between $155 and $188, by all means, snap off a few flicks for safe digital keeping. However, younger music fans might be surprised at just how liberating the experience of attending a concert can be when the pressure to document and detail their every moment in real time is removed.
"Z, but what if, for me, an enjoyable experience includes whipping out my phone from the beginning of the show to the very end?" Great question, glad you asked.
If that's the case, I would highly recommend leaving your phone at home (or in the car) the next time you attend a show. If you bring your phone with you, even if it's turned off or on silent, you'll have the temptation on your person. If the phone isn't in your possession, though, that means no texting, no tweets, no "doing it for the Gram," no Facebook Live—just you, your favorite artist and, hopefully, a few new friends.
Seriously, try it. Just once. You'll thank me later.