I’ve attended a lot of concerts in my time, a lot! My first ever was NKOTB (New Kids on the Block) in 1990. I was in the 4th grade. My Mom took me. It was fabulous.
Over the years my musical taste grew…thankfully. I’ve seen everyone from Cypress Hill to Britney Spears to Tool, and loved every second of every show because concerts bring me to life. I close my eyes and try to remember exactly how a song makes me feel the moment it’s played, taking in every detail from the scratchy lyrics to the missed guitar chord to the person stepping on my toes. I live for all of it.
This year, when I fought for tickets to see Jack White for the second time, I was in Heaven…until he asked everyone to put their phone away for the duration of the show. I panicked. Ever since I’ve had a phone with a camera on it I have used it to take pictures, pining for the moment a member of the band got close enough to enter the width of my screen with enough time for me to snap a photo that didn’t look like someone tried to draw the photo from memory.
I decided I’d still take a picture, but I’d do it super fast so Jack wouldn’t know and I could savor the moment. When he came on stage, I was thrilled. He’s darling (yes, I have a crush) and he’s a musical genius. I couldn’t resist one photo. So, I snuck out my phone, ignored the disapproving glare from my husband, and snapped a picture. Then I hid the phone back in my pocket, where it actually stayed for the duration of the show, despite my intense desire to release it.
The show was passionate, raw and real, the best I’d seen in years. I had a great time, I was totally engaged, and I realized I was more connected because I wasn’t looking at my phone. What Jack wanted was our attention and our connection because he was giving that to us. It worked like a charm. I didn’t miss any part of my favorite songs because I was checking text messages or Facebook posts. Those things would be there long after the show ended and Jack’s bus drove away.
I realized I didn’t want those things infiltrating my show. I cared about enjoying it. I cared about that opportunity where I closed my eyes and tried to memorize my concert moment, my moment of being alive.
As he promised, Jack posted fantastic, professional photos for all of his fans to share within a few days. In reality, I could have skipped the “forbidden photo” and received 60 seconds of my concert experience back (along with leaving behind the guilt of going against the wishes of my rock god).
So, the moral of the story….next time you see a live show, whether it’s the 9th time you see your favorite band, or your first time to see a local act, connect with them. Leave the phone in your pocket. And as they start to play that song where you feel totally alive, close your eyes and absorb the moment. I promise it will be better than any photo your phone can take. If you don’t believe me, the proof is in the pictures. My ill-gotten photo below doesn’t do my experience justice, but my memory of a fantastic evening is definitely complimented through the photos and the memories Jack gave me.