A week ago I found myself at a rowdy Trampled By Turtles concert. If you've never been to one, you need to go. It's basically an all-acoustic punk show. Some people mosh and some people like to sway back and forth like broken pinwheels. It's great.
I stood near the center of the audience, in awe of the blitzing fiddle work of Ryan Young, when suddenly a tall man in a wide-brimmed hat nudged his way in front of me. He then proceeded to raise his iPhone 6 into the air to take a shaky, out-of-focus, 45-second video of the middle of a Trampled tune. He did this over and over again. I watched as the amateur videographer bobbed throughout the crowd, snapping clips from different angles around the venue.
To my shock, he was not alone. Many concert-goers were taking video all over the room. Their phones all set to the highest-brightness level.
I became confused, angry, and seething all in quick succession.
This must stop, I said out loud like a crazy person. I was alone amongst the audience. Could I be the only person here that thinks taking shitty video at a concert is not OK?
So, with festival season upon us I thought I'd share some quick tips with you about cell phone etiquette at a concert. Look, I'm not against taking a grainy shot or two of your favorite band but when you decide that video is the best option for your live music memory bank, please consider these questions:
1. Have you seen this band before?
2. Are you not surrounded by a crowd of people?
3. Do you actually understand the Rule of Thirds?
4. Have you already taken at least five photographs of the band?
5. Have you received permission from the band or venue to take this video?
5. Are you sober?
If you answered No to a majority of these questions, then you my friend should not take that video. Even if Prince is covering Radiohead or Ryan Adams is covering Bryan Adams (both of which have actually happened) I urge you to not take that video. We live in a digital world. Everything we do is tied to the Internet. A concert is a refuge from our awkward stumbles into modernity.
So the next time you go to a concert and you feel the urge to memorialize your experience in megapixels, remember the questions above, and open your eyes. Your brain can actually record things too.