This guy was the official photographer at a Pan American concert at Ravenna – a flashy camera but too obtrusive imho.

A short article at NPR music blog All Songs Considered discusses the pros and cons of allowing people to use mobile phones and cameras at concerts.

This brought to mind the time I went to at a small club in Rimini to see a solo performance by John Cale. This show was back in the days when i-phones were not so ubiquitous – not so very long ago but very hard to imagine now.

Anyway, one punter near the front had a camera phone and started taking shots as soon as Cale came on stage. JC stopped mid song and told this amateur photographer in no uncertain terms to cease and desist. What he would do if he didn’t was left open but given that Cale is built like a rugby player and is not one given to compromise the young Italian wisely put his device away and the show proceeded.

I had some sympathy with Cale but his reaction was over the top. I wonder how he copes at shows now when practically everyone in the house has some means of taking pictures.

I would have thought performers would be more put off by those who have more interest in chatting at the bar rather than watching the show. This is certainly more of an irritant to me especially when watching acoustic shows where the volume of the band is not loud enough to drown out this background talk.

I recall a bold gesture by Minnesota band Low who insisted that the bar be closed before they started playing. As practicing Mormons, they could probably get away with this on faith grounds – I doubt that the proprietors at the venue were best pleased by the reduced takings.

These would be my five golden rules of  concert etiquette, especially crucial at intimate venues :

  • Respect the artist : taking photos is ok but do so in moderation – remember to turn off the flash and avoid poking the camera in the face of the performer.
  • Love thy neighbour : be aware of other members of the audience – don’t block the view for the sake of a perfect photo opportunity
  • Check your settings: turn your phone to ‘meeting’ or ‘silent’ mode and don’t take calls during the show.
  • Shut the fuck up : if you’re at the concert to socialize, do so before or after the set. if this feels like too much of a burden consider modifying your social life – go to pubs and restaurants more.
  • Booze controls : venues should always serve drinks in plastic cups to avoid the clanking glass/bottle distractions.

Are there any you would add?

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