My Secret Shame

Ladies and gentleman, I should hire a sniper to shoot me.

This is if I hold myself to the same standards I expect of others that is, which is what we all should be doing, right?

Well, in London recently, I succumbed. I donned my hypocrite’s coat and I joined the ranks of the masses who I routinely pray to the musical Gods will be struck down – or shot – where they stand.

I took out my iPhone (note: not just a “phone”) and recorded. A whole song too.  “So what?” I hear you ask.

Well I have now made my contribution to the continuing assault on the sanctity of live music. I often pray for snipers to be introduced to venues when I find myself looking over a sea of phones and cameras, all getting the same poor footage and all missing out on the same potentially great live music experience.

That connection between artist and audience is surely diluted by experiencing a gig through a little LCD screen? You could argue that they allow people to capture memories, but what use are these memories if attempting to preserve them leads to a much lessened experience?

Also, the quality (sound and picture) of most photos and video footage captured on phones and cameras is generally awful, as anyone who uses YouTube to search out music already knows.

Now I don’t mean a photo of you and your friends that takes all of a few seconds or even a quick shot of the blurry, distant stage – fair enough on both counts.

But at the Tallest Man on Earth in Vicar Street recently, there was a fella just in front of me who had a camera in the air for almost the entire gig. What for? There are countless videos of the Swedish troubadour out there already, live and otherwise, and this guy was missing out on what was taking place right in front of him.

And that’s all leaving aside the fact that your annoying loads of other people with your pointless, extended filming of gigs.  It makes me pine for the quaint days when the people clapping on the offbeat were the ones you’d roll your eyes at.

I think that constantly filming a gig is not just disrespectful and distracting for the artist, but also your fellow audience members. If it annoys and distracts me, at 6′ 4″ (thanks Naomi for the reality check!), I can only imagine what it’s like for people craning their necks to see the stage.

So what possessed me to abandon my principles so meekly? Well, the Rural Alberta Advantage.

We went to see them in Bush Hall. At the end of a great gig the band came out right into the middle of the crowd to sing us a lullaby before sending us all home happy. They stopped to sing “Good Night” right beside us. So close I lost my better judgement it seems.

I took out the phone and recorded it (offending footage posted below – in much lower quality). I was looking at it from over the phone too and just held it, so I wasn’t too distracted, but that’s not to say it wasn’t bugging the hell out of Nils Edenloff.

Having participated in the act I hate having to put up with so much, I can report back that it’s the memories of that gig I cherish (like many others) and not the footage. I have no photos or footage from Primavera last year, just memories of a wonderful week.

So sorry Nils (whom we met afterwards and seems a really down-to-earth, lovely guy), Paul and Amy. And sorry to anyone else there I inadvertently distracted during a really great moment at the end of a really great gig.

To the rest of you camera-phone=happy music heretics, I say this: “Shed your electronic prism and carpe diem!”

Interestingly, some people think snipers may not be needed as the copyright conscious music industry and Apple may be about to neuter the offenders.

This recent report from the Irish Times suggest that iPhones may soon be equipped with technology to make the recording of gigs difficult, if not impossible, as the phone will be able to determine if what’s being recorded is copyrighted material and then disable itself (the recording function) accordingly.

However, it seems the report is more than a bit sensationalist. Apple files a huge amount of patents they don’t follow through on, but don’t want others to either. They filed this one 18 months ago. Plus if you put your phone in Aeroplane mode you could bypass this straight away or if that doesn’t work people will quickly find another way.

Seems like bullets could still be the best way after all…

Posted on June 23, 2011, in Music, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. You sicken me

  2. Also, I hacked your phone.

  3. Fantastic – I hope the shame has passed now that you have passed on the message to warn away others. Think of all of us who will now thinkg twice before we hold up our phones. I have even seen someone do it with an I-Pad.

    Great writing.

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