Forfeiting Your Memories

If we are standing in an audience at the foot of an admired musician, and I see your hand raise and wobble around while holding an illuminated LCD screen trying to capture a picture or recording of said performer, I can’t help but shake my head. Chances are, your production value isn’t going to be of any quality worth reproducing, and more importantly, you are missing the point of live music. It’s about being there in that moment without distraction, appreciating the art in front of you. While it is being performed. You lose the beauty of the moment when you allow your iPhone in. Essentially, what you are saying is that your reality is less interesting than the story you are going to tell about it.

Put down your cameras, people, and just be present.

I once attended a Wilco show at the Orpheum (circa 2009) where Jeff Tweedy literally held a video-recording spectator’s phone hostage, accusing the offender of “forfeiting their memories to an imperfect medium.” Maybe that was a bit harsh, but I respect the principle behind it. If you spend your night zooming and clicking in an effort to capture the event on your smart phone, you are robbing yourself of the real-life experience, and what’s better than being totally engaged in the here and now? By electronically documenting the moment, you are letting go of something that was uniquely yours (your memories and personal experience), something that no one else can have, and giving it away, and there’s something somber about that loss.

I’m not saying I’ve never been guilty of this behavior, because I have stage photos (never recordings) from the past (though certainly not since Tweedy reprimanded the audience for living life second-hand). I’m also not saying it’s the ultimate crime if you are watching the show from behind your iPhone screen, or that I like you any less for doing so. More accurately, I’m just sharing some fresh food for thought, encouraging you to have a more present, and therefore more fulfilling, experience next time.

Besides, what are you planning on using that picture for? Are you going to look back at the out-of-focus blur fondly? Or are you just posting it to your social media outlet of choice to prove that you were there?

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4 thoughts on “Forfeiting Your Memories

  1. keepitcrafty says:

    I totally agree! But I do always get one photo to upload to facebook and brag! I’ve seen people record video of the entire show! That’s really annoying if they’re standing right in front of you holding up their phone. I’ve always wondered what they’re going to do with a shaky video of the entire concert. I was at that Wilco show, too!

  2. wadeyo13 says:

    I actually do go back and watch old concert videos and pics (prob b/c my camera records HD quality), but that’s why the videos are recorded where I’m not looking through the camera screen. Plus photography is a hobby. I can probably tell better stories about shows I do some of that at than shows that I don’t.

    • I agree there are circumstances where filming/photography during a show is warranted, and what you are describing passes my litmus test for acceptable media usage during a show. Photography for photography’s sake is one thing, but I’m a little skeptical when I see 30 hands in front of me snapping low-quality pictures. You know what I’m talking about.

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