Last week Melbourne rock ‘n’ roll venue, Cherry Bar, proposed a ban on mobile phones during all live music sets. The anti-phone movement has been promoted by the likes of Adele and Jack White. But a Facebook post by the bar divided opinions. Some defended their right to film the concert they paid for, while others remained staunchly opposed.
Let me just say this: I am a self-appointed live music veteran. I didn’t spend my gap year building huts in a remote foreign community or finding myself in Europe. I have not travelled the world. However, I did attend about seven music festivals and even more live concerts within that time.
My name’s Lizzie. I’m twenty years old and I use my mobile phone to film at gigs. That’s right, I’m your worst nightmare. And I’m here to cut through the entitled bullshit that people use as reasons to ban phones at gigs.
“I hate when I pay money for a show and someone just films the whole set.”
First of all, that ‘someone’ paid too. And they have the right to enjoy the show however they please. I understand you might be pissy because it’s potentially your only chance to see your favourite act live, while they’re watching the set through a screen. But when, in the history of live music or mobile phones, has anybody ever filmed an entire show on their device? My money is they film one or two songs max, because, let’s face it, unless you’re at Stereosonic (which, sidenote: is not about the music at all), no one has the stamina, patience or phone battery to hold their arms up for a whole hour or two. And if they do, they probably deserve to have their own footage.
“I can’t see when someone’s phone is in my face.”
In what situation does someone else film a performance with the phone situated directly in front of the face of another? If anything, their arms are stretched slightly upwards to reach over the heads of the others in front of them. And believe me, I know that moshes and crowds are tightly packed. There are sweaty, drunk people every which way and it’s hard to move. But when there’s a will, there’s a way. Look through the gap in that person’s arms. Shuffle slightly to one side. Just make sure when you find the perfect viewing position, widen your stance to more than shoulder-width apart and put your hands on your hips with your elbows out (since you’re obviously not going to need them for your phone). That way, if anyone tries to push you, you’re on solid ground and they know that you are unmovable.
“I’m too short and can’t see over the people holding their phones up.”
two. But also, being a lanky gal means I don’t have this issue often unless there are really tall people around me (which sometimes happens). Do you know what I do if I want a completely uninterrupted view of my favourite act? I get to the front early and wait it out.
At the 2017/18 Falls Festival in Byron Bay, I stood in the rain for almost three hours, watching bands I wasn’t overly interested in, being sweated on by douches next to me and sticking to my own poncho, just so I could be front and centre for when The Kooks graced the stage. Luke Pritchard then donned the tightest pants imaginable and sang and danced mere metres away from me because I was patient enough to wait. That could be you too if you’re willing to fight for what you believe in. Also, if you’re that desperate, ask some drunken larrikin to lift you up on their shoulders. If a giraffe-human hybrid like myself can be lifted throughout a set, so can you, my short-statured friends.
“People on their phones aren’t living in the moment.”
These are the people who probably did spend their gap year building huts or soul-searching in Europe (and don’t you forget it!). Don’t tell me I’ve just driven fourteen hours in a hot, stinky car from the NSW South Coast and I’m not “living in the moment.”
When I make it to the prime position to see David Le’aupepe strut around like sex on legs, I can assure you that there is no other moment I want to be in – unless that other moment is being smothered by his deliciously muscular arms. So when I take a billion photos or video him singing about solipsism, don’t question me. I am 100% in that moment. My phone will be perched somewhere respectful (so not to “shove in the face” of all you anti-phone killjoys) to film for a minute at maximum. Maybe I’ll snap-chat it. Maybe I’ll chuck it on the ‘gram. I will definitely save it to my gallery.
Do you know why that is? Sometimes I sit in my room scrolling through social media mindlessly, and I reminisce about the amazing live music I’ve been blessed to see. Then I’ll exit whatever I’m scrolling through and find all the photos and videos of when I found a great spot to see any amazing band or artist from The Wombats to Thundamentals to Paul Kelly.
Yes, the footage is shaky. Yes, you can mainly see the back of someone else’s head and yes, the video might feature my tone-deaf shouting, but the slight inconvenience of you having to avert your eyes from my phone for 30 seconds means a lifetime of happy memories for me. The videos for me are like
the notebook from the movie The Notebook, and when I’m old and my memories escape me, I’ll always have the digital immortalisation of my favourite musos to keep me young.
Let’s stop the hate
So, if you don’t use your phone at live music events, good for you. I support you. But don’t scoff at me and roll your eyes and tell me you were “born in the wrong generation.” As if all those girls in the 60’s wouldn’t have taken photos of The Beatles if they had the tech! Let me live. To those who do film live music: I’m here for you. Hit me up, we can share content. I have a whole gallery dedicated to differently angled pics of David Le’aupepe and I’m always keen for more additions.