Philadelphia Metropolis


A Matter of Concert Etiquette

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iphone_concert_616.jpgBy Brooke Hoffman
For generations of concertgoers one of the most memorable images has been the sea of lighters. This Zippo starlight could take even the biggest fan's eyes off the main act. It was like a memorial for the last time you hear the chorus, like you would never here that song again. Of course, you'd just go out to the parking lot after the show and play it all over again--on your car stereo and in your mind.
That's right, in your mind. Singers and bands are these famous enigmas that help us run that extra mile, remind us of our first romance, or those random experiences that make us who we are. I don't know if Bruce Springsteen played "
Thunder Road
" or "Jungleland" (they have the same piano melody), but I do remember my dad shoving me up against the stage close enough to touch The Boss. I also remember him threatening some other dude not to block my 12-year-old view. Concerts come back to me in fragments. They are memories.
So why is everybody fucking it up by recording the whole damn show on his or her cell phone?
Unless it's Pearl Jam or Phish, no one cares about bootlegs. Plus, no matter how nifty a phone you've got the sound will suck and the picture will be even lamer. You will have to explain to whomever you show the video to (a) who is on stage and (b) what song they are singing. Oh wait, you'll have to remember that.
Another issue with this wave of bootloggers (bootlegger+blogger -- I'm copywriting that), not only do I have to look around your huge head, now I have to look over your freaking Android. Those screens are not getting any smaller. Some of them are the size of a large rodent -- a very bright, distracting rodent.
Am I a hypocrite? Maybe. The boyfriend and I did record a few minutes at a recent Rammstein show, but how else do you really get across the image of a man riding a phallic foam cannon? Some things need a visual.
My younger sister sat next to me at Garbage's show in AC last week.  She broke out her digital camera and was recording away. I had seen her do this at a few shows, but not as much. Every time I looked over, she was watching the camera, which was watching the stage. I texted Dad one seat over, "Does she still watch shows?"  He chuckled and texted me back "the tech generation."  It made me worry.
magazine published an article about whether kids are getting dumber. Well, the consensus was that technology was just changing the way we remember things. I admit it, I don't know the boyfriend's phone number because I have never actually had to dial it thanks to cell phones.  What if all these little jpegs, mpegs and YouTube clips are replacing concert memories?
By just recording the show you miss things like your Dad's rare fist-pump, the shocked look on your boyfriend's face with every pyrotechnic, and the way a show can be so loud you feel it in you chest.
No chip has enough memory for that.

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