I go to a lot of shows. And as an avid concertgoer, I've noticed a near-total loss of common courtesy amongst fellow attendees when it comes to smartphone (and camera) usage at live events. Most recently, I was at an Afghan Whigs show at Terminal 5 when I witnessed some of the most mind-boggling behavior before me.
While the Afghan Whigs were putting on a phenomenal, deep cut-filled rock n roll show, some asshats in front of me were too busy to notice. Why? They were streaming baseball games on their phones. That is, when they weren't busy checking stats on the brightest screen I've seen in my life. During the second song into the set.
After a while, I had to say something. It went a little like this:
Me: "Hey! When you go to baseball games, do you stream live concerts?"
Jerk: "No, but this is the playoffs."
Jerk: "So, the Orioles haven't been in the playoffs in 15 years."
[My friend chimes in]: "The Afghan Whigs haven't played in 15 years!"
Amazingly, I guilted him into walking away. But for every one guy who figures out they're not the only one distracted by his phone screen at a sold-out show, there are tens of thousands who think paying for a ticket (or getting on a guest list) entitles them to act as if they're the only ones in the audience.
Perhaps I'm extra sensitive because of my 5'3" stature and it's hard enough to find an unobstructed view without winding up standing behind That Guy. The problem is, everyone is turning into That Guy. It might be time for some new rules.
The New Etiquette for Using Tech Toys at Concerts
1. Even though you spent two grand on a tricked-out DSLR, you are not entitled to shove past people to get a vantage point to shoot. If you're on assignment, get there early. If you must squeeze in somewhere, ask nicely, take your shot and get out of the way.
2. There's nothing wrong with taking a couple of snapshots for posterity (and Instagram), but quit it after a couple of shots. You're not selling these pics to Rolling Stone. Put down your iPhone and just watch the show.
3. Stop recording videos at shows. In addition to spending all your time staring at the tiny screen instead of, say, the band playing in front of you, you wind up obscuring the view of everyone behind you. And really, do you want to spend the entire night raising your hand like you're Sure?
4. Oh, is it just your favorite song you'd like to capture? Try holding the camera upward within the frame of your body so the people behind you don't become distracted by this whole ordeal.
5. Turn down the brightness on your phone. When a venue's lights are dimmed, your bright-ass phone becomes that much more distracting.
6. Save the Facebook and Twitter scrolling for in between acts. Beyond the fact that this is the ultimate insult to the band onstage, aren't you embarrassed to be doing it during a performance? I would be.
7. Learn from the tale of my sports-loving brethren: Live in the moment and leave all other streaming events at the door. So what if you're bored or can "multitask"? The rest of us shouldn't be forced to.
8. If you do any of the above with an iPad, the person behind you should be allowed to take said tablet out of your hands and hit you upside the head with it.