Image for Camera phones at gigs, plague or privledge?

Camera phones at gigs, plague or privledge?

Written by Michael Carr on June 1, 2011

In a recent interview with the Edmondton Sun, electro-rock duo Ratatat‘s Evan Mast has said that the band are considering banning the use of smartphones to take photos and film at their live shows.

“That’s a policy that’s changed and gone back and forth over the years. Lately I’m kind of in favour of banning it, because whenever you go to shows there’s so many people with their iPhones and it’s a bit distracting I think, for people in the audience, and for us on stage too.”

These comments have led us here at Music Feeds to ask, should taking photos and film be banned at gigs? While the whole idea of banning something at gigs seems wrong, somehow totalitarian and at odds with the very spirit of going to see music performed live, one can’t argue with the fact that being faced by a sea of iPhones at every gig you go to has gotten pretty old pretty fast.

No one can deny the fact that if you buy a ticket to a concert, you have the right to take photos, no matter how bad they are or if you’re ever going to bother looking at them again. However while the desire to capture part of the performance in some attempt of making something temporary eternal is very understandable, I don’t think anyone could say that it enhances the live music experience, and that a lot of people would in fact say that it detracts from it. As Mast said in the interview “I understand the sentiment. It’s cool that people want to take a piece of the show home with them or show it to their friends or whatever. But I kind of feel like it would be more fun if they just enjoyed the show.”

So, we have agreed that while taking photos and filming at shows is something that we are all well within our rights to do, it is also something we all know is pretty shit. So then what’s the solution here?

Part of the reason why so many people are doing this at shows is that it is cool to go to shows, and having some grainy ass blurred photo of your favourite band is one of many talismans today’s au fait hipster will carry around on their person. So why not exploit this slavish following of trends by starting a trend against people taking photos or videos at gigs? Why not try and make taking photos and videos at gigs uncool?

True that unless it was done really well it’s more than likely to just piss people off and make them do it even more. Stubborn reactionary bullshit being one of humanity’s more reliable character traits, telling people what is and isn’t cool doesn’t tend to work too well, we’d need to take a more creative approach.

If any artform (to use the word loosely) can be said to have been perfected in these the early days of this new millennium it would be the art of marketing, and so why not embrace it and see what good we can do with it. Surely some earnest sounding plea from some skinny guitar toting indie band with nonthreatening good looks would go great lengths to mobilise these hordes of amateur snappers toward becoming better people.

I’m no blind fool. I realise that this idea is in all probability unfeasible, if only because no one stands to make any money off discouraging the human compulsion to capture the moment, and that such behaviour is long ingrained in our psyche. No matter what we do, short of enforcing a hard line ban, nothing is going to stop people taking photos and videos at shows. Still it seems more than worthwhile to try something, anything, to stem this seemingly endless tide of amateur snappers, otherwise you might end up watching more and more shows through someone else’s smartphone.

Image courtesy of BLIKMO

Join Music Feeds on Facebook

monitoring_string = "5ddc797c5ea15f4a20f5b456893873a5"