Have smartphones ruined the concert experience?


Let me start off by saying I used to be a serial concert photo taker, but in recent years I have converted to taking 1-2 early on in a concert and putting my smartphone away for the remainder of the show.  I love concerts and over the years I have been lucky enough to see a good number in a variety of venues.

Last night I attended a David Gray and Allison Krauss concert at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, North Carolina.  If you have never been, Koka Booth is a first class venue lined by tall loblolly pine trees set next to a lake.  Outside of a really awkward Death Cab for Cutie concert, I have always had a great time there.

Kokabooth 2

Koka Booth Amphitheatre is a gem.

 I have often revealed to my wife my adoration for Alison Krauss.

“You’ll never hear a more crisp, clean voice live than hers.”  (Now, Joy Williams, formerly of the Civil Wars can give Alison a run for her money in this department, but last night affirmed Alison’s dominance.)

“You can just close your eyes and listen to her forever.”   I stand by my statement, but so much great musicianship is on display that I have to watch the show too.  The problem with watching a concert these days is that the glow of the cellphone is distracting in every direction.

To my right was a sweet grandmother with a giant Samsung phone.  Bless her heart, she kept turning on the flashlight when trying to shoot a video/photo. Her husband was so patient, but finally gently lowered her arm to her lap to block out the blinding light for all.

Over my left shoulder was a gentlemen trying so hard to capture the moment with the flash on.  Pro Tip #1:  The flash works at night if you are 10 feet or less from the object you are shooting.  Alison was 40 yards away, so not only did you distract me, you also took a worthless photo.

In front of my, a teenager was capturing multiple snaps on Snapchat throughout the show.

Also to my right was a young couple who were probably on their first date since having a child, just a-texting away with the babysitter or who knows?  I give them a little bit of a pass…very little.

Behind me was a drunk couple with small children.  I am actually not sure about their phone behavior, but I did want to use this blog to point out how terrible they are.  I was tempted to ask the kids on the way out if they had a safe ride home because mama was lit up like a Christmas tree.  Don’t talk while Alison is singing!?!

Now, to be clear, nothing was going to ruin my concert experience and it didn’t but I felt sad for those clutching their phones the whole show (I also felt bad for drunk mom’s kids).  I just don’t understand how you can drop money on a concert ticket and not truly listen and watch the concert?

Pro Tip #2:  The photos that are in the next morning’s online newspaper are always going to be better than your shaky and blurry 11.2 megapixel photos.  Always.


See what I mean?

So, my night was not ruined.  Far from it, but I do have to think twice now about buying tickets for fear that I will be surrounded by some smartphone posse that has been over-served and will not feel complete unless they get in 15 selfies before David Gray plays ‘Babylon.’


Bonus Material:  If you made it this far, you get a free rant.  It is a repeat rant, but humans have made no progress, so I rant on.  If you look at your phone while you are driving, you are dangerous.  If you ride with someone that looks at their phone  and you don’t snatch it and throw it out the window, you are an enabler.  If you disagree with these statements, please surrender your driver’s license before you murder someone.


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