It’s hard to miss all of the massive concert tours currently going on. For one, big names like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift don’t go unnoticed. But mostly, they’re hard to miss because of their prominence on social media.
Today, people can watch photos and videos of concerts just hours after they happen by simply opening X (formerly Twitter), Instagram or Snapchat without having to be there. Videos of the Arctic Monkeys concert that I went to over the summer were posted before I left the arena. Does that devalue what I saw?
The short answer is no. I was there and saw it with my own eyes in a way that couldn’t be translated to any amount of social media posts.
But, in a way, my experience was also changed by the sea of phones that flashed in front of me for every top song. The lights encompassed me from behind and shined toward the stage. The singing from the crowd was quieter, and Alex Turner seemed less inclined to actually play to the crowd.
Livia Zuesi, a junior accountancy major, said that audience members having their phones out takes something away from the experience. The Taylor Swift and Car Seat Headrest concert that Zuesi went to both involved a wall of phones.
“With everyone recording, it takes away the atmosphere of [the concert],” Zuesi said. “A lot of the time, people are more focused on getting a video than actually paying attention and enjoying it.”
That’s not to say phones only have a negative effect.
When Arctic Monkeys played “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball,” the audience held up their phones with the flashlight on to mimic a mirrorball. The combination of the song and lights enlarged the moment.
Even though the atmosphere at the concert is different, Zuesi said good things can happen from having your phone out at a concert.
“My friend’s sister couldn’t get tickets so she FaceTimed her during parts of the concert,” Zuesi said.
Instead of intending to add to the experience, many concertgoers use their phones to record for themselves.
Julia Russell, a sophomore biology major, went to a Taylor Swift concert in Cincinnati this summer. At the concert, Russell took multiple videos of the performance, but she hasn’t watched any of them since then.
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“That was the thought behind recording them [to watch them later],” Russell said. “ I just haven’t done it.”
When at a concert, the audience should be able to do whatever they like within reason. Comedy shows will sometimes take people’s phones as they enter the venue, but that can’t scale up to a Taylor Swift-level event.
Concert culture is changing, and maybe it’s for the better.