host picture

  | Bookmark and Share

Do we need a cell phone code of conduct at concerts?


By Raji Sohal (with Tanya Birkbeck)

I want to tell you about two very different experiences I've had at concerts.

I had waited my whole life to see David Byrne perform. When I was a kid, our family of seven would pile into the minivan, and blare Talking Heads as our soundtrack.

So you better believe that when David Byrne came to Montreal last fall, and I was sitting less than four feet away from the stage, I took a photo with my cell phone.

I wanted to remember this moment forever.

What I wanted was an artifact to remind me of the precise angle from where I witnessed that show.

But I recall another time, at a Radiohead concert, when I was caught in a sea of people who were recording the show with their phones.

Their arms stuck out from the crowd like stalks in a field, blocking my view. Their faces were illuminated by that artificial light of their cell phones. I was distracted -- and even annoyed.

The question of what do do about cell phones at concerts seems to have reached a breaking point. Some bands are even asking to have NO CELL PHONES at all during their concerts.

And it's not just an issue at rock concerts. Earlier this month, there was an incident at a New York Philharmonic Orchestra concert. Someone's iPhone went off over and over again -- until the conductor actually STOPPED THE CONCERT and told the culprit to shut it off. It even ended up being covered in the New York Times.

It seems pretty clear that it's not really appropriate at a classical music concert, but even that is being rethought, as some companies are adding "Tweet Seats" -- a special section for people who can't keep their cell phones in their pockets. 

By contrast, at rock and pop concerts it can feel like a free-for-all.

Do we need a code of conduct for cell phones at concerts?

Matthew Woodley is the drummer for the Montreal band Plants and Animals. Listen to him describe what it's like to look down from the stage into a sea of cell phone screens.

Download Flash Player to view this content.

Music fan and publicist Sarah Shoucri explains why she likes taking photos and sharing her experience online when she's at a show.

Download Flash Player to view this content.

Music promoter Evan Dubinsky of Blue Skies Turn Black berates amateur cell phone photographers, and explains how some bands are now asking to BAN cell phones all together at concerts.

Download Flash Player to view this content.