Monday, June 2, 2008


THOR CHRISTENSEN, DALLAS MORNING NEWS What if you gave a concert and the crowd refused to watch? It's not as far-fetched as it seems. As more and more concertgoers fiddle with cell phone cameras and fidget with Blackberries, some people say mobile technology is ruining the concert experience.

"It's extraordinarily irritating," says Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame. "All these people holding up these horrid little squares of bright light.". . .

It's not just a case of cranky baby boomers griping about the young and the restless. Plenty of younger artists and fans are also getting fed up with the tech intrusion. . .

Of course, pop concerts were awash in distractions long before the cellphone. In the early '60s, shrieking girls made it impossible to hear the Beatles perform. In the '90s, mosh pits made going to concerts a contact sport. "You never expect 100 percent of people's attention," says rapper Ice Cube. "You learn to take 80 percent."

But the levels seem to be rapidly shrinking thanks to "microboredom," a term invented by - who else - a cellphone company to convince people they need to escape reality with their mobile gadgets.

At concerts, microboredom usually means fans snapping dozens of photos of the band, the crowd and the stage lights. The ultimate disconnect comes when they take pictures of the pictures on the video screen. . .

But not all musicians regard mobile technology as a buzz-kill. When cellphone use exploded in the late '90s, bands had fans wave them in the air to create a million-points-of-light effect. Suddenly, flicking your Bic was passé. Later, as text-messaging flourished, groups asked concertgoers to post messages on video screens. Today, some artists embrace the tech boom as a potential career boost.

"My bottom line is communication," says English rocker Billy Bragg. "If they want to capture a photo of me and send it to a friend who can't be at the gig, I don't have a problem with that."

Concert videos are the latest rage as fans flood YouTube with clips they shot using their cellphones and digital cameras. The videos are often so fuzzy and muffled they're unwatchable. Still, some bands embrace them as free instant promotion.


At June 4, 2008 4:42 AM, Blogger fdtate said...

Cell phones are a distraction not only at concerts but almost everywhere. But the best example of a band embracing the technology is Jars of Clay's mobile mashup video of "Dead Man (Carry Me)."


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