Cranky Music Rant Warning…………5…………4………3………2………1………
Technology has connected us all, we can communicate via words or video or voice. We can share experiences and we can bring people to places they have never been. We can also remove ourselves from the moment under the guise of recording the moment for posterity. In the spirit of vinyl, big headphones, opening acts, and actual tickets, I submit to you, to us, that we recapture the moment.
I am from the era where when the lights go down at concerts the Bic’s lit the way. But because of fewer smokers, more vapers, and cell phones, the concert Bic lighter has gone the way of disco. First it was just people turned on their phones and held them up, remember, these things didn’t always do all the cool stuff they do now. Then Camera Phones became popular so people would hold their phones up to take bad pictures of the band from 400 feet away. This brings me to the Smart Phone, the phone that is no longer used as a phone, but rather a portable memory device. Pictures for Instagram, Check in’s for Facebook, tweets to the artist to prove your there. I was recently in L.A for the Frank Turner show at The Wiltern. Frank had worked out a new activism song whilst on the road, The Sand in the Gears. The song starts with Frank on stage with his acoustic guitar. He sings to us to not sit on the sidelines, but to man the barricade, and to be The Sand in the Gears for the next four years. A powerful moment, an even more powerful way to open the show. I was there on the floor looking up at him, listening to his plea, and at that moment I felt a part of something. I look to my brethren to my left and right, and instead of eye contact and a shared experience, all I saw was people recording the performance on their various devices. I mean one guy had his iPad, that thing was gigantic, get ahold of your life.
I have been lucky. Working in the industry has given me the opportunity to see thousands of bands. I don’t remember all of them, but for the ones I want to remember, I do. Not because of some grainy out of focus video on my phone. I let myself go when I am at a concert, I allow myself every opportunity to take in the music, to my soul. I can look back and be in Wheatland listening to NIN play “Hurt”, or Chicago listening to Pearl Jam play “Release”, or in Oakland listening to the Rolling Stones play Beast of Burden in 1997. The next time you’re at a show for one of your favorite bands leave your phone in your pocket. Instead, close your eyes, understand where you are, and make that memory. A friend of mine gave me some of the best advice I have every gotten to this day. When we were 15, Mike Kennedy turned to me and said. “When you are old and gray, it’s music and concerts that you will remember”. 18 years later………..he is still spot on.