I took a lot of flak for my tweets the past couple days regarding the Yeah Yeah Yeahs “no photo” sign. And I want the chance to truly get my thoughts and point of view out because it was overwhelmingly misunderstood.
The point of this argument that my sights are focused on, and disapproving of, is the message sent via YYYs to concert goers. The message within the message, in my argument, is in a whole different playing field; between fan and fan.
To start: where I seek issue with the YYY’s sign is the notion that they think they have the given right to dictate to their fans how they can or cannot behave at a show. My argument is: every last fan in that room is paying to be there. The band isn’t paying people to stand there and enjoy the live performance. Sure, their music is a gift one could argue, but to each person in that room it’s still going to be embraced differently. It is a choice that each and every fan makes, and invests their own personal funds in to attend a live show. One fan’s $20 may allow them to feel entitled that there are no cameras around. This is not unequal to the next fan’s feeling that his $20 entitles him a screen to watch the show through. This monetary exchange makes a fan a paying customer. This is not dissimilar to me walking into a restaurant and being told, by the restaurant, I cannot order a steak because the person next to me is an avid vegan. Thus this is how I relate the YYY’s note.
Discourtesy via use of cameras is a fan-to-fan issue. I did make the argument that smartphones are small. They are. Not wanting to move your head slightly around view of where a camera might be is truly a small, small inconvenience given the circumstances. Like I said, that person’s desire to have their camera is not unequal to your desire to not want the camera. No one paid more money than the other to be allotted special rights. If it’s in your way, let the person know, they likely don’t know it is bothering the person behind them because they are in a moment, just like you.
Secondly: I feel the message just could have been worded more kindly. This is by all means my personal opinion, and nothing less, because the note can clearly be seen as humorous, rude, kind; it’s subjective. Personally, a note that said something like “We appreciate you wanting to share our performance, but as a courtesy, please be respectful of those around you.” I’m still unsure about how the no smartphone policy specifically is a courtesy, other than indirectly, to the band. Kindness always wins, asking politely tends to be more respected than a demand.
Finally: I think this whole debacle is making every last one of us unappreciative of the privileges we have daily. The ability for bands to still tour, the fact that people are still willing to spend money to support an artist, the ability that venues exist for us to see live music and for artists to showcase their craft, the fact that a nobody band depends on technology like smartphones and social media to become something. Is a tiny cell phone maybe a little bit in your way really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things? I honestly don’t think so. This whole “put that shit away” boils down to one thing: #Firstworldproblems. I think it’s a small high horse for all of us. I am looking for a band who appreciates what their fans do for them, camera phones or not. And for fans who appreciate the opportunities they have to even get to experience witnessing music in its most basic form. Live music is awesome, seeing it through a screen is less awesome, but that insane tool still exists and we are lucky for it.
I love music, I love live music, I love recorded music, I love music through screens. I use my phone at shows. I don’t use my phone at shows. It isn’t black and white. Any given scenario is better for me at any given time. I suppose I am just a bit more easy going when it comes to what goes on around me at live shows, because I have my own experience and I like others to have their own as well, even if it is different than my own. And if something really bugs me, I’ll kindly ask the person to work with me.
Now please stop cussing me out on Twitter.