Should smartphones be banned from gigs? Yeah Yeah Yeahs spark debate

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yeah-yeah-yeahs-2013.jpgIndie rock legends the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have sparked debate over the place of smartphones at gigs by insisting that punters at their live shows don’t pull out their tech while they play.

While attending the New York trio’s show at Webster Hall, Spin spotted the following sign posted onto doors at the venue.
130408-yyyssign.jpgIt reads:


PUT THAT SHIT AWAY as a courtesy to the person behind you and to Nick, Karen and Brian.



Singer Karen O re-iterated the request from the stage, telling the crowd that they could snap away during the second song of their set, but then had to “put those motherfuckers away.”

The request follows similar sentiments from other high-profile stars, including Prince. The diminutive pop star is very protective over what images of him are released to the public, and threatened those at his recent SXSW appearance with removal if they were spotted using smartphone devices.

It’s an interesting argument. I for one hate smartphones at gigs, obscuring my view of blistering live performances while other punters lose the real-time experience by watching the whole thing through smartphone or digital camera screens. And don’t get me started on iPads at gigs! They’re just ridiculous, and massively obscure the view of those behind them, dulling the atmosphere as people stand statically trying to protect their expensive tech from the bustle of the crowd.

On the other hand, it’s reasonable to want to capture a great gigging moment with a camera or video, and I have to admit being grateful of all the YouTube clips posted of gigs I wasn’t lucky enough to attend.

My brother took it a step further at a recent gig I went to with him though; he played the Infinity Blade game on his iPhone the entire way through a support band slot, which I felt was rude. He countered with the fact that he felt he’d only paid to see the top-billing band at the show, and would reserve the right to turn over a song he didn’t like on the radio. Why can’t he enjoy a bit of downtime on his phone while waiting for the act he really cares about?

When it comes to recordings though, you wonder how much damage is causes the artists and fans caught on film. With record sales declining, gig ticket sales and subsequent tour DVDs are an important revenue stream for bands. Do bootleg YouTube videos diminish the potential returns on such products? Some artists however have embraced them; Supergrass’s Supergrass is 10 DVD included bootleg footage sent in by fans.

So what do you think? Should smartphones, tablets, and even digital cameras be banned from live performances? Or should those who want to capture performances be allowed to enjoy gigs as they please? Leave your response in the poll below!

Gerald Lynch
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