So there’s something the whole music scene has been debating for quite a while – the use of mobile phones (as well as cameras, iPads, etc.) at gigs. More and more artists seem to be stopping in the middle of their set to ask the audience to put their phones away. Most of the time they’re asking politely, but sometimes it can come across as quite ranty; such as recently, John O’Callaghan of The Maine did at Warped Tour.
The thing is we can imagine it can get disheartening as an artist that instead of a sea of faces, you’re looking at a sea of cellphones. So before you get offended about how “rude” a certain band are being, think of how rude it must seem from their perspective when you refuse to experience their art in the moment. What is it anyway with our generation being so hellbent on documenting everything? If you’re watching through a screen, it’s hardly like experiencing it firsthand anyhow.
Recently Alicia Keys made headlines when she tested out a new device called Yondr, where attendees of her gig in New York were given pouches to lock away their phones during the show and would need to go to phone free zones within the venue to unlock the pouch. She’s not the only artist to have tried Yondr, with bands like Guns N’ Roses having given it a go too.
In principle, it seems like a pretty promising solutions. For starters, the whole concept of phone free zones is a great idea as it won’t completely prohibit fans from using their phones, just not when they’re surrounding the stage. It feels like a pretty good compromise, as banning phones in venues completely would never work in today’s society and would seem a little overdone anyway.
Though the whole technology behind it is kept quite vague on the Yondr website, it seems to possess some sort of tracking system within the venue. Admittedly, we’re not too stoked on this whole Big Brother aspect of it, but truthfully we can’t really see how else the phone free zones would be able to fall into place otherwise. The only way we see fans agreeing with the idea is if there would also be a way to know when a band is performing or not. It’s one thing to put your phone away during a band’s set (which most people won’t be too happy about anyway) but we can imagine a lot of fans would be quite upset about the idea of having their phone locked up for the entirety of the show – and if it’s a four band lineup, this could be at least 3 hours.
Could Yondr be the future of handling the mobile phone situation at gigs? It could be, but there definitely needs to be some further developments made. While the idea of phone free zones is essentially a good one, the whole thing still seems a little ‘creepy’ and harsh – a lot of people would not be too stoked if this happened at a gig they went to. But right now, it seems that politely asking fans to put their phones away doesn’t seem to cut it. It would definitely be interesting to see if more venues/ bands would jump on board and test this out.