The distinct sound of my obnoxious, high-pitched singing can be heard in the background of majority of my videos. Recently I attended a Lana Del Rey concert, someone I have been waiting to see for years. After immense anticipation, queuing in seemingly endless lines and attempting to get as close to the action as possible, the moment finally arises. So, what does every single person in the amphitheatre do? They raise their phones in unison and press “record video”.
I went with my Mum to the concert, whose constant question was “What are you doing on that phone?” She cannot comprehend filming an artist when you are seeing them live. There is plenty of YouTube footage of the person singing on stage, yet to take your own picture, no matter how terrible and grainy, is to claim your unique sentiment of the experience.
Towards the finale of the show, Lana Del Rey walked off the stage and into the crowd whilst phones lit up in excitement. Fans were filming her every move, the closer she came the more people scrambled to get their phones near her face. The screaming and yelling from the crowd muffled her voice as she disappeared into a sea of hands and phones. At one point she grabbed a fan’s phone to take selfies with them, one by one each person held out their phone in anticipation for a once in a lifetime opportunity. A phone was the connecting line between fans and fame.
Posting to social media is the contemporary form of merchandise. This action publicly announces that you were at a concert. One fan admitted they will “never watch the footage again” whilst posting to Instagram to show that they were there. Some even hold their phone torches in the air during melancholy ballads, it is the modern day ‘lighter in the air’ action.
“We are so desperate to record and inform others of our musical extracurricular activities that we miss the very point of why we’re even at these venues in the first place: the live experience” says Georgia Bell.
Jack White, known as the lead singer of the White Stripes, has banned mobile phones from his performances, saying “We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while to experience music and our shared love of it in person.” But small-time bands argue that mobile phones connect artists to their fans through social media as it gives them exposure and serves as both a promotion and marketing tool.
When you are next at a concert and decide to film, just ask yourself “Will I ever look back at this footage again?” The answer is probably never. However, will you still film majority of the concert? Of course.