Letter: Put the phone down and watch the show
December 11, 2014
Put the phone down and watch the show
Belly Up, Aspen's predominant live-music venue, is one of its most impressive cultural assets and a centerpiece of the town's nightlife. It attracts an array of talented musicians who run the gamut from world renowned to rising up to yet-to-be-discovered. It is intimate and authentic, and would be the perfect place to see your favorite band — were it not for the frivolous audience that it seems to attract. I've lived all over and attended shows in the many points in between, and never have I encountered a more self-absorbed, inconsiderate, unappreciative and selfie-obsessed audience as I've found the last several times I've been to Belly Up. I'll take nothing away from the quality of the talent and the thrillingly intimate access the venue allows to it, but I've been dumbfounded by the lack of respect shown to the artists by those who insist on having their own private social gathering front row and center to the stage.
At a majority of shows, it's not terribly difficult to snag a spot close up and personal to the band, which is one of the venue's most endearing qualities. But be forewarned, true fans are likely to share the front row with a crew of very chatty, drunk narcissists armed with the very latest in Apple iphone technology. And when they aren't talking to each other over that stirring acoustic ballad, they'll be waving these phones in your face in an attempt to videotape the show they have front row access to (but couldn't give a s— about) in order to post it on Facebook, Twitter, or "ME-Tube."
Taking a step back, as I observed this (and later wrote about it), I had to wonder if maybe I was just old; a relic of a bygone era (the 1990s) where cell phones weren't smarter than their owners and probably didn't fit in their pockets anyway. A time when live music was a live experience for a real-time audience, not just a segment of someone's social media campaign. But then I remembered, at a show back in August, just when I'd begun to assume I was alone in my "old-fashioned" concert etiquette beliefs, Whitey Ford of Everlast told the crew of iPhone videographers hoarding the front row to cease and desist. This past Saturday night, Alex Clare joined the movement, pleading with the crowd prior to his final song to "put the cell phones away and just try to enjoy it." I think he even took a girl's phone out of her hand and put it in his pocket. It was to no avail, as phones were out in force recording the final and only song any of them probably even knew.
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