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Monthly Archives: February 2015

This short rant is probably unnecessary, given that anyone who sees this post will probably either (a) instantly agree with me, thus obviating their need to actually read this, or (b) not think there’s any problem with this behavior, in which case my words here aren’t likely to help them improve themselves… or help them find a fire to jump into.   (Pity, because either of those actions would benefit the rest of us massively.)

It’s 2015.  We all have smartphones.  They all have cameras.  With that great power comes great responsibility.

Most people understand that it’s not polite to whip out your phone and attempt to photo something in, say, a restroom.  Many people have learned that their friends online probably do not need to see pictures of every single comestible about to be put into someone’s mouth.  However, time and time again, I encounter one incredible failing of social grace that seems to persist even while most people are learning all other forms of smartphone etiquette.  So I must ask the question…

Why are some of you jackasses trying to record concerts and other performances??

I understand that you may be particularly pleased to be experiencing melody, dance, and voice to your liking.  I understand that you may wish to preserve this moment so as to experience it later… but that is why we have cognition and memory.  Please use your own evolved human brain and remember the performance by simply paying attention to it and enjoying it.  You’d think this would be obvious, but that is not the tactic employed by so many people.

Nowadays, no matter the venue or the genre, it’s not uncommon to see one or more jackasses holding up smartphones and attempting to record the event, ostensibly for later viewing…

Recording Performances with Smartphones


Of course, there are a number of problems associated with this idiotic behavior.  Let’s make a short list of them here…

1. Doing this bothers everyone else

2. Doing this means you are not actually paying full attention to the performance you are spending the time (and probably money) to attend

3. Doing this yields invariably shitty results

4. Doing this is often unnecessary

Please take these criticisms to heart and understand that everyone else in the theater (at least, everyone behind you) hates you when you are holding up your smartphone or other device.


1. Doing this bothers everyone else 

I’m going to borrow a line from Maddox when it comes to the use of phones or pretty much any other kind of technology in a darkened theater…


No matter how much you think that you have turned down the brightness on your screen or how well you are attempting to hold the phone close to your body (which almost no one actually even makes the effort to do) it is painfully bright to everyone else behind you.

You think that your phone looks like this…

What you think

When in fact it looks like this…

What we see


2. Doing this means you are not actually paying full attention to the performance

Many of the photos in this blog post were taken by me (yes, I realize the irony… but understand that I was actually in the back of the theater) during a performance by the famed Irish musician Danny O’Mahony who had traveled all the way to Montana.  This was a rare and wonderful opportunity to hear a talented and worldly performer and storyteller.

Yet, during the evening, there was no shortage of jackwagons with their smartphones and cameras, attempting to record.  One woman was so painfully inept that she spent the better part of the evening scrolling through menus and configuration settings on her phone while almost never successfully recording anything that she wanted to…

Idiot woman

… and another man in front of her was attempting to only record the song segments of the evening, but this meant that he had to hustle and shuffle around at the start of each piece, attempting to unlock his phone and start the video footage.  He was cutting off between 5 and 10 seconds at the start of every song.

And then, as if to put a cherry on top of this shit sundae, down in a front row we got to see… iPad man.

iPad man

If you thought smartphone people were the worst in public, you were wrong.  That honor goes to the more elusive but also more idiotic creature known as iPad man.  Using your iPad as a camera (or a videocamera, no less) in public is just about the most inconsiderate thing you can do to others.  The massive screen is not only brighter, its sheer size makes for blocked views behind you, too, due to simple geometry.

iPads are our generation’s Fanny Pack… no one looks cool with one out in public, and the fact that they hold more than what you can put in your pocket means that the most gauche among us think they’re the greatest thing ever: capable of storing loads and loads of crap that no one needs or wants, and allowing you to collect more along the way.


3. Doing this yields invariably shitty results

Travon Free said it best during an old installment of The Gentlemen’s Rant


No matter how steady you think your hands are or how great a view you have, etc etc… nine times out of ten, any recording that you make on a smartphone during a concert or other performance in a theater space is going to turn out like crap.  The lighting will be severe, the resolution will be blurry, and almost always the sound will either be muffled or full of clipping due to levels that aren’t right for your shitty little microphone which your hand is blocking half of the time.

Regardless of the quality of the recordings, I’d wager that most people aren’t even going to bother playing those clips in the future.  Not for their own pleasure, not to show friends, not for anyone.  These are just recordings that will take up space on their device, and which bothered everyone when they were being filmed.


4. Doing this is often unnecessary

This would be the most hilarious part for me, if it weren’t quite so sad and annoying.  Many, many musicians and other performing artists nowadays have roadies (or just good friends) with professional gear and genuine skill who record their performances for them.  That was even the case during this concert in Montana…

professional recording

…when it was all over, I shared a laugh with the cameraman who had set up in the back corner and had captured the entire performance with a long zoom lens and board-level sound input.  This kind of set up is no longer the exclusive purview of headlining bands that sell out stadiums.  Check your local artists’ youtube or twitter pages, chances are the have recordings of the shows that you attended.  It’s very possible to enjoy can enjoy the melodies and lyrics again and again without having to bother anyone around you.

So, please… if you’re the type of person who feels inclined to whip out your smartphone and record during a concert (even just for a song or two), STOP.  Just stop.  The results are ass and you are annoying the hell out of everyone else.

If you really, really want to enjoy the concert after-the-fact and your mind is too addled and fried for you to remember it with sufficient clarity, contact your artist and ask them about a recording.

Or, do what all proper dedicated fans do at shows where crowd recording is encouraged (hint: it’s the same thing plenty of dads did back in the 80s and 90s with their camcorders at school plays and the like)… position yourself in the very rear of the theater and learn how to document a show properly.  You may not be 100% “present” for the performance as it happens, but at least then you’ll have a fighting chance of producing a recording that is worth something to you and others after-the-fact.

Or maybe it won’t be, because you’re a nimrod and can’t operate your camera.  I don’t care either way.  Just stop doing it in front of the rest of us, lest we start resorting to pouring drinks on your head “accidentally” when we get up during a break.