Smartphones and iPads, we all know, can be pretty cool. We also know they can suck. Take music concerts, when the other fans in front of you form a view-blocking field of little blue lights in their own private attempt to take home a digital souvenir of the show.
Filming performances has even been encouraged with the creation of websites such as evergig.com, which allows users to upload their recordings before reassembling them into one single video of a song or concert. “Your ultimate ringside seat to your fav artist's best shows,” the website boasts, no matter if this almost always means low-quality video and sound.
A growing number of artists such as Jack White, Kate Bush and Prince have slammed smartphones as a bonafide plague for live music. In April 2013, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs even posted a sign at their concert to tell their audience where they thought people should put their devices.
Now, finally, real action is being taken in the war against shiny screens at music gigs. After the creation this year of an app called Kimd, which allows users to take photos or videos with a dark screen, a company called Yondr recently joined the fight. Their idea: before a show, people put their cell phones in special cases they can’t open before the end of the concert.
The company explains on its website: “Yondr gives venues and artists the tools to create phone-free events and spaces. In a technology-filled world, Yondr is the easiest way to maintain authenticity, privacy, and exclusivity.”
It’s not the device itself the company is trying to change; it’s the way it’s used. “We think smartphones have incredible utility, but not in every setting. In some situations, they have become a distraction and a crutch — cutting people off from each other and their immediate surroundings. Yondr has a simple purpose: to show people how powerful a moment can be when we aren’t focused on documenting or broadcasting it,” they explain.
An initiative that may start changing mentalities on capturing events — maybe even beyond the context of concerts — that should be happening before our eyes, and not behind a lens.