[Jakarta, LTTW] As we watch a music concert and gaze upon the stage, our sight can suddenly be blocked by gadgets that extend in the air—minimizing the full experience. This phenomenon happens because some concerts don’t restrict the spectators to record or photograph the show with cell phones.
Capturing moment at a proper dose can be acceptable, but it gets problematic when we get to a point of recording the show continually and tirelessly. The best example are recording full length videos of a song or worst, broadcasting live in Instagram.
Besides distracting or blocking other people with screen lights and elongated hands in the air, we distract ourselves as well.
We draw away from real moments happening right before our eyes, and seeing it through a tiny screen in our phones with reasons such as uploading it immediately and rewatching it in the future. We are present but we’re not there because we are too busy using the gadgets.
Aligned with hyperreality, it seems that we cannot diferentiate reality with the simulation of reality—we steer away from the physical world. Drawn to “an absolute fake” just as the writer Umberto Eco points out in Travels in Hyperreality (1975). The photo or video that we captured is actually fake because in the process we have been depleted from the real moment.
Amidst the trend, there are popular music artist who ban cell phones or other recording tools altogether. More or less, their reasons are the same; encouraging people to be in the moment.
The late “Prince” Rogers Nelson is one of the artists from United States who was strict about the no-phone policy. The singer who wrote classic songs such as Purple Rain applied “Purple Rules” in 2013 that ban the use of photography, videography, and cell phones. It is also written that “these rules will be strictly enforced and violators will be asked to access another experience,” or simply put, leave the concert!
Björk Guðmundsdóttir from Iceland also imposed a set of rules to the spectators on gadget use in her show at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2013. The stage screen displayed prohibition to record in order to encourage the festival goers to enjoy being a part of the performance.
The no cell phone policy at concerts keeps growing. In 2016 singer-songwriter Alicia Keys partnered with a company called Yondr to provide special pouch that disables people to access their own phones for the remaining of the show—an extreme measure to some. Yondr also collaborates with U.S comedians such as Louis C. K. And Dave Chappelle.
Banning something doesn’t always lead to the desired results. In December 2017, the punk band Misfits used Yondr for their reunion show but fans still take photos and videos by snucking their phones or breaking the pouch.
Banning or allowing the use of cell phones is up to the artists, but whether we want the full experience of watching a concert is ours to decide. Guitarist and singer Jack White keeps reminding about the musical experience in his show that doesnt need any cell phone to enjoy. Opening the year in 2018, he promotes a “100% human experience” concert that also bans phones with the use of Yondr pouch.
We can be attached to our cell phones; bring it everywhere, use it anywhere, and utilize the features such as camera to immortalize moments. Sometimes we forget or didn’t realize that we use it improperly, either overusing it in concerts or using it in inapproriate area such as cinema or a plane that has just landed.
Capturing moments with cell phones can be a problem because most of the times it leads us to a state of not being in the moment. So after the concert, we normally see photos or videos of ourselves when we were there. It’s okay, as long as those memories are full of ourselves being engaged with the moment, instead of just recording the show, seeing it on small screen, and “bragging” mostly about our physical presence.