Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Concerts and Cell Phones

 

Last night my husband Seth and I went to a concert in D.C., something we rarely do. Nine times out of ten, they’re his concerts, and I don’t really enjoy them regardless, and so, people doing things around me that ruin the experience don’t resonate, because I’m already not particularly enjoying the experience. But last night was a concert of mine, something we do every five years or so, and I actually cared about the experience.

We were sitting in the rafters until the concert started, and then stood up. Because I’m short, this was basically my view:

I kept my cell phone down outside of taking that quick ten-second video as a joke for Instagram because I don’t really see the point of taking video I’ll never rewatch, and also, well, that’s my view, so what’s the point? There were folks in front of me taking video, and through their screens, I could actually see the stage, which I found a strange appreciation for.

In the beginning of one of the songs during the encore, the (rather large, in width and height) man standing next to me yelled at some of the women who had been taking videos and selfies throughout the whole show. He was standing closer to them, and it looked like their videoing was blocking his view. He tapped on their shoulders and yelled at them to put their phones down; yelling to just watch the show with their eyes. It turned into a screaming match that bled into the rest of the encore, and soon, security was called over. What was a minor annoyance (for some folks) with the phones, turned into a standoff so tense that I told Seth we could just leave. I was tired of standing and this appeared to be the last song they would play anyway, and it was far from a favorite. But honestly, the whole section had become tense and not particularly enjoyable.

On the way home we talked about whose side we were on, and largely we both fell on the side of the guy. There’s really no need to take that much iPhone video of a show, and it’s also become a troubling phenomenon how few in our society are able to experience life without a phone in their hands (I fully admit I am part of the problem). I can see how his admonishments were intimidating for the women, who were standing a stair below him and were much smaller than he was. I generally appreciate when women stand up to men who intimidate women, though their choice to do it while the show was still going on was indicative of how little they cared about ruining the experience of the concert-goers around them.

So what would have been the right way to handle the situation? I tend to believe it could’ve been done better with the man asking the women to put their phones down, and out of his view, in a much more gentle and quiet way while the band was talking or playing a song off their new album (let’s be real, we all enjoyed those a bit less than the nostalgic 20-year old tunes we came for).

But what do you think? Did he have a right to say anything at all? Did he owe them any courtesy in how and when he did it?

There are 44 comments.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I HATE people who think they have the right to video whatever they darn well please!! Most theaters I go to now say don’t just mute the phone, BUT TURN IT OFF. Even then I have people who don’t necessarily film what’s going on, but they use their phones to read email or whatever during the show! Why did they bother to come?? If the person is sitting next to me or one over, I tell them to turn off their phone; if they only turn it over on their laps, I tell them I’ll report them. I don’t care what they think. I actually want to see the show distraction-free!

    Okay, I feel better . . .

    • #1
    • January 27, 2019, at 1:10 PM PST
    • 12 likes
  2. Profile Photo Member

    I find people holding up their phones at concerts extremely annoying, even if they aren’t that close to me. I have actually curtailed my concert going altogether as a result. I sympathize with the man who told the amateur videographers to stop but from experience I know that being rude about it in that setting is likely counter-productive. Being polite is unlikely to work either though, these type of people think the price of their ticket includes ignoring their fellow concert-goers.

    If I do go to shows now I actively try to find seats in the first row of the balcony (or the floors, if I can get them!) All praise to Victoria LeGrand of Beach House (a terrific indie band): at one show a couple of years ago she actually told the crowd (very politely) to stop with the phones and they did :-)

    • #2
    • January 27, 2019, at 1:25 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    So standing up in front of the other members of the concert audience is fine, but holding up a phone while doing so is bad?

    • #3
    • January 27, 2019, at 1:36 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  4. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    My kind of concerts, Chamber Music, do not admit of any electronic devices being used by anyone in the audience. It is a standard procedure before any chamber music concert, for the announcer to tell everyone to turn off their electronic devices. However, invariably, someone leaves their phone on, and it goes off in an inappropriate place in the music, embarrassing the audience members and the performer. On Friday, we went to a Seattle Chamber Music Winter Festival concert, and attended the free recital beforehand (a single performer, playing music of their choice). Someone’s phone went off, just as the soloist was ready to begin the next selection. The audience tittered, and the performer smiled, but I’m sure many of us in the audience were screaming inside our heads.

    The worst incidence of this that I can remember was a few years ago, and it took place in the sanctuary of Saint James Cathedral in Seattle. This church has a very resonant chamber, with the usual high cathedral ceilings. The performers were an “a cappella” group known as Anonymous 4, four women singers with just awe-inspiring voices. They were filing into the hall, singing a very beautiful 16th-century song, their voices echoing through the rafters. And someone’s cell phone went off, just a short distance in front of me. And he let it sound, nearly destroying the transcendent experience of the audience listening to the women sing. It was all I could do to refrain from tackling the guy. At this distance in time, I think I should have.

    People can be so inconsiderate, thinking that the rules apply to everyone but themselves.

    • #4
    • January 27, 2019, at 1:39 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  5. Hoyacon Member

    Without knowing how the aggrieved guy specifically handled the situation, it’s hard for me to take sides, but let’s just say that the presence of phones for video and still pictures is well on the way to ruining the pop concert experience for a lot of people. I don’t mind some brief picture taking for a memory because that’s what you get today, but there are way to many rude and clueless people who can’t draw limits. And it’s more than just the standing. The flashes, etc. are totally distracting.

    Classical concerts are never a problem because that stuff just doesn’t play there, but larger arena pop shows are a lost cause. I went to a show at The Barns in Vienna (VA) recently and thought the audience found a happy medium between some initial picture-taking at the beginning of the show and some realization that it shouldn’t go on all night. These, keep in mind, were adults. Smaller venues, where I spend most of my time, are able to exert more control , but eventually will probably start to prohibit excessive picture taking.

    • #5
    • January 27, 2019, at 1:40 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Hoyacon Member

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    So standing up in front of the other members of the concert audience is fine, but holding up a phone while doing so is bad?

    It’s worse. Two annoying distractions in one.

    • #6
    • January 27, 2019, at 1:43 PM PST
    • 1 like
  7. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Really. If they want to watch the concert on a screen, why don’t they stay at home where the refrigerator is full of beer, and they can order in a pizza, and just wait for the PPV?

    I’m thankful, with some of the rest of you, that most of the events I attend prohibit the taking of video or most sorts of photography at all, and that they usher people out who violate the rule. I paid to see the performance, not a lot of zombies waving their phones around in front of them and above their heads trying to capture shadowy images of what’s happening in front of their eyes, along with overwhelming crowd noise and very little of the substance of the event. A few minutes spent on YouTube looking at audience-captured footage of “iconic” events will show you just how bad most of this stuff actually is.

    • #7
    • January 27, 2019, at 1:49 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  8. Hoyacon Member

    She (View Comment):

    Really. If they want to watch the concert on a screen, why don’t they stay at home where the refrigerator is full of beer, and they can order in a pizza, and just wait for the PPV?

    Would that were true. Unfortunately, a lot of it is more about showing off than capturing a video of the event. One show I went to at a midsize, seated venue featured a guy about five down to my right (fortunately) who was taking selfie-videos of himself dancing, with the band in the background, and posting them on the internet as the show went on. “Look at me! I’m here. I’m cool.” He was far from the only one.

    • #8
    • January 27, 2019, at 1:59 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  9. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Really. If they want to watch the concert on a screen, why don’t they stay at home where the refrigerator is full of beer, and they can order in a pizza, and just wait for the PPV?

    Would that were true. Unfortunately, a lot of it is more about showing off than capturing a video of the event. One show I went to at a midsize, seated venue featured a guy about five down to my right (fortunately) who was taking selfie-videos of himself dancing, with the band in the background, and posting them on the internet as the show went on. “Look at me! I’m here. I’m cool.” He was far from the only one.

    Completely agree. The “look at me!” “I was here!” factor looms large.

    • #9
    • January 27, 2019, at 2:07 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  10. Hoyacon Member

    The big question is what’s a “Bethany concert.” :) I made a quick check of last night’s events and was wisely able to eliminate the Monster Truck Jam at the big downtown arena. Neko Case at the Lincoln, maybe?

    • #10
    • January 27, 2019, at 2:12 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Cell phones at concerts are the new cellophane wrapper.

    AND

    This analogy suggests the answer is variable on context, on the sort of event. The phone in front of you functioning like a miniature jumbotron may let you see the focal point of the event when you are too far away or too short. That benefit may be a net positive, if it does clash with the tone of the event.

    • #11
    • January 27, 2019, at 2:22 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Franz Drumlin Member

    We need more performers like Patti Lupone:

    • #12
    • January 27, 2019, at 2:23 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Doctor Robert Member

    It’s not hard. At the beginning of every concert at Carnegie Hall, metropolitan Opera, Boston symphony hall, a note is displayed, Turn Off Yer cell phones. Violators May be expelled. Works fine.

     Then again, classical music audiences are more respectful of the need for silence and careful listening than the audience at a rock show or a Bruins game.

    • #13
    • January 27, 2019, at 2:46 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  14. Doug Watt Moderator

    There are concerts, and there are concerts. One of the guys in our dorm had been trying to arrange a date with an attractive young lady that lived in the women’s dorm. He was pretty excited when she said yes to a concert date. I asked him who they were going to see, he said Black Sabbath. I told him that might not be a good idea. Well they went to the concert, and some guy sitting behind them threw up on her. Probably a result of copious alcohol consumption, and ingesting other intoxicants.

    There was no second date. 

    • #14
    • January 27, 2019, at 2:50 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  15. George Townsend Inactive

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I HATE people who think they have the right to video whatever they darn well please!! Most theaters I go to now say don’t just mute the phone, BUT TURN IT OFF. Even then I have people who don’t necessarily film what’s going on, but they use their phones to read email or whatever during the show! Why did they bother to come?? If the person is sitting next to me or one over, I tell them to turn off their phone; if they only turn it over on their laps, I tell them I’ll report them. I don’t care what they think. I actually want to see the show distraction-free!

    Okay, I feel better . . .

    I agree with Bethany, that the man could have been more polite. But Susan is right: These people are a menace. It seems there is so much rudeness in our society today. Few people think of the other person; they want what they want when they want it. I hope this lack of civility ends soon, but I must admit I am pessimistic about it.

    • #15
    • January 27, 2019, at 2:51 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. George Townsend Inactive

    Franz Drumlin (View Comment):

    We need more performers like Patti Lupone:

    You go, Girl!!!!!!!

    • #16
    • January 27, 2019, at 2:58 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ask Kevin Williamson about the time he was reviewing a play in NY for a publication and a woman kept playing with her phone. He grabbed it and threw it.

    • #17
    • January 27, 2019, at 3:00 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  18. MarciN Member

    In the olden days, it was people talking :-) :

    • #18
    • January 27, 2019, at 3:02 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  19. Doug Watt Moderator

    Go see Pink Martini, a Portland, Oregon band. They perform in venues that have seats. The band wears coats, and ties, and the audience dresses up a bit. I’ve seen them live several times, and they never disappoint. Their outdoor concerts are just as civilized.

    • #19
    • January 27, 2019, at 3:22 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. The Reticulator Member

    Bethany Mandel: So what would have been the right way to handle the situation?

    I don’t understand this phrase: “the right way to handle the situation”

     

    • #20
    • January 27, 2019, at 3:30 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. KentForrester Moderator

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I HATE people who think they have the right to video whatever they darn well please!! Most theaters I go to now say don’t just mute the phone, BUT TURN IT OFF. Even then I have people who don’t necessarily film what’s going on, but they use their phones to read email or whatever during the show! Why did they bother to come?? If the person is sitting next to me or one over, I tell them to turn off their phone; if they only turn it over on their laps, I tell them I’ll report them. I don’t care what they think. I actually want to see the show distraction-free!

    Okay, I feel better . . .

    You’ve got a lot of chutzpah, Susan. I usually don’t have the nerve to confront strangers like that. They might beat me up. 

    • #21
    • January 27, 2019, at 4:06 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  22. Chuck Thatcher

    I don’t think the proportion of jerks in the population is significantly greater than it’s always been, just that cellphones and the like give them another, and visible, way to be offensive.

    May not be worth much at the time, but complaints to the management followed by an early departure might help put some iron in the spine of those who ought to be maintaining order and civility – next time.

     

     

    • #22
    • January 27, 2019, at 4:48 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):

    Ask Kevin Williamson about the time he was reviewing a play in NY for a publication and a woman kept playing with her phone. He grabbed it and threw it.

    I don’t go that far, but I will kick seat backs when I see the phone come out. Normally only takes a couple times for the operant conditioning to work. 

    • #23
    • January 27, 2019, at 5:15 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It’s not just cellphones. Sanity and decent manners seems to be at thing of the past in crowds generally. Check out this review from a Neil Young concert earlier this week:

    https://www.jsonline.com/story/entertainment/music/2019/01/24/loud-annoying-crowd-nearly-ruins-intimate-neil-young-gig-milwaukee/2664534002/

     

    • #24
    • January 27, 2019, at 5:19 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):

    Ask Kevin Williamson about the time he was reviewing a play in NY for a publication and a woman kept playing with her phone. He grabbed it and threw it.

    I don’t go that far, but I will kick seat backs when I see the phone come out. Normally only takes a couple times for the operant conditioning to work.

    A couple years ago I was at a movie where some idiot woman was on her phone several rows in front of me. After a couple minutes, I finally got up, walked down behind her and told her (loudly) to “Would you put the [redacted] phone away”. Startled the crap out of her, but she turned it off and didn’t take it out again for the rest of the movie.

    • #25
    • January 27, 2019, at 5:26 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. Chuck Thatcher

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):

    Ask Kevin Williamson about the time he was reviewing a play in NY for a publication and a woman kept playing with her phone. He grabbed it and threw it.

    I don’t go that far, but I will kick seat backs when I see the phone come out. Normally only takes a couple times for the operant conditioning to work.

    Kevin Williamson can probably get away with things that I can’t. For sure, a sweet young lady is more likely to survive kicking seat backs than an unattractive older man.

    • #26
    • January 27, 2019, at 5:59 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  27. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator

    Chuckles (View Comment):

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):

    Ask Kevin Williamson about the time he was reviewing a play in NY for a publication and a woman kept playing with her phone. He grabbed it and threw it.

    I don’t go that far, but I will kick seat backs when I see the phone come out. Normally only takes a couple times for the operant conditioning to work.

    Kevin Williamson can probably get away with things that I can’t. For sure, a sweet young lady is more likely to survive kicking seat backs than an unattractive older man.

    I have had the perpetrator turn around and ask me to stop. To which I simply reply, “Put your phone away and it won’t happen again.”

    Granted, I’m also normally at the movies with a 6’2″ 325 lb. man, which discourages reprisal. 

    • #27
    • January 27, 2019, at 6:09 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  28. Cow Girl Thatcher

    I went to a concert…somewhere…I can’t remember who…but we were all required to put our phones into a bag that was locked up by the venue. We kept the bag, but at the end of the concert, they would unlock the bag as we left. Dang…my brain will not let me remember where it was!! But it was awesome! We all just enjoyed the event live and in-person, and then went home!

     

    • #28
    • January 27, 2019, at 6:15 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  29. OldPhil Coolidge

    Slightly OT, but it’s amazing to watch sporting events on TV (basketball, hockey, etc.) and as the camera pans the crowd, literally everyone in the first few rows are doing nothing but looking at their phones. Those seats costs hundreds or even thousand of dollars.

    • #29
    • January 27, 2019, at 6:22 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  30. Roosevelt Guck Inactive

    In principle we can take photos and shoot video, but when we do so on private property we have to abide by the house rules. Courtesy and prudence should not be ignored. On public property it comes down to prudence and courtesy and being inconspicuous. You’re on very strong ground on public property. First Amendment.

    People who object never consider that they’re probably under surveillance most of the time, whether they are in public places or on private property. Given that, it seems a bit silly to hem and haw about privacy when some guy takes a cell phone photo. Just my two cents.

    • #30
    • January 27, 2019, at 6:35 PM PST
    • 1 like

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