IN his play No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote: “Hell is other people”. When it comes to the business of people recording gigs on smartphones and other such devices, I couldn’t agree more.
The presence of tiny glowing screens – recording, texting, tweeting and taking pics – has become ubiquitous, but it is intrusive and distracting for those who simply want to enjoy the show.
Unsurprisingly, there’s a backlash against all that at the moment, with several high-profile musicians speaking out against filming at gigs.
Former Pink Floyd man Roger Waters has described the trend as showing a “lack of respect” to the artist – and he’s right.
In April, indie outfit the Yeah Yeah Yeahs put up a note for fans entering a gig. ‘Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera’, it said, along with a few stronger words that can’t be repeated here.
A few days later, the Rolling Stones forbade cameras and smartphones when they played a surprise gig in Los Angeles, and the likes of Jack White and Beyonce have since followed suit.
Just the other day, Poland’s Unsound music festival put a ban on fan recordings because they distract from the performance – hopefully, it’s the start of a new trend.
I’m no Victor Meldrew, but I couldn’t agree more with the banning of smartphones from gigs. I go to shows to enjoy the music in the moment, and I want to experience it without the glare of hundreds of smartphones obscuring my view.
I’ll never understand why people fork out to see their favourite band/artist and then just stand there, zombie-like, with their smartphones above their heads making terrible recordings.
It’s a curious thing. For many people life is lived through a lens nowadays. Folk have somehow become tourists in their own lives, obsessively recording every little thing as if to prove it actually happened.
It’s a bit sad, really.