Musicians Whining About Fans With Mobile Phones

from the get-over-it dept

This past Friday night my favorite band was in town, so I went out to see them perform at a club in San Francisco. It was a fun time and they put on a great show (as they usually do) -- and it struck me early on that, even though the club was mobbed, and every once in a while I saw someone pull out a mobile phone to snap a photo or take a video, most people were just dancing and enjoying the show. Apparently, that's not necessarily the case everywhere. PicturePhoning alerts us to an article where a bunch of musicians are whining about fans in the audience with mobile phones. While they do make some interesting points about how fans these days are so focused on documenting their experiences that they might miss the actual experience, the whole "controversy" seems overblown. If the experience is good, the experience is good, and why should the musicians care how the fans experience it? And, as I can tell you from my experience on Friday night, when the experience is top notch, most people don't bother to pull out their mobile phones. So, perhaps rather than worrying about what the fans are doing, musicians should concentrate on putting on a better show.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Liam, May 13th, 2008 @ 5:04am

    oh noes

    I see the logic in this, but that doesn't mean it is good logic.

     

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  2.  
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    eleete, May 13th, 2008 @ 5:25am

    Foul Copyright

    Maybe they feel they can sneak a "How we want you to enjoy our IP... license" and make everyone agree to the rules of How you are to enjoy their performance. Making the memory and thought of anything to do with the performance forbidden. And Don't you DARE try to record them while they perform their priceless acts.

    eleete

     

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  3.  
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    TriZz, May 13th, 2008 @ 5:35am

    Camera Phones

    I totally agree, Mike. I am guilty of trying to snap a couple of photos with my camera phone, but usually there gets a point in the show where I'm so engulfed in the experience that I forget to snap more photos.

    @eleete: I can't say I agree with you. I've seen a bunch of videos on youtube or elsewhere and the video that they produce is hardly decipherable. It's either too dark, grainy, and you can't hear the song above everyone else or the music is too loud for the receiver to handle.

     

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  4.  
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    Haywood, May 13th, 2008 @ 5:47am

    Once everyone gets tired of bitching........

    the 21th century can be a lot of fun, and profitable as well.

     

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  5.  
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    Stephen, May 13th, 2008 @ 5:53am

    camera phones at concert

    My friend Karen and I went to see Rhett Miller at Maxwell's a couple weeks ago. Not only was he amazing and the price unbeatable ($22 at the door), but afterwards he came out into the crowd to shake hands and play the role, as he said, of haberdasher by the t-shirt stand. Out came Karen's camera phone and I took an admittedly fuzzy dark picture of them together which I guarantee she'll treasure forever. Got a great t-shirt for The Believer for my daughter too. That's what a concert should be like.

     

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  6.  
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    Tony, May 13th, 2008 @ 5:53am

    No Cameras Allowed

    I always find it funny how so many shows/clubs don't allow you to bring in cameras at all, yet many camera phones are starting to get decent pictures now, and those are allowed.

    I hate when I get photo passes to a show to get picture for our website and we're told no flash. However the people just on the other side of the barricade are flashing away with nothing happening.

    Still to this day I don't know why many clubs/bands don't allow cameras at their shows. As a fan I just want some pictures to look back at years from now and go, "wow, that was a fun time." As a webzine I just want good pictures for our readers/fans who are fans of the bands we see. Nothing more, nothing less. Is that so wrong?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 5:55am

    @TriZz: IP licensing is supposed to protect against *bad* unauthorized copies as well as good ones...

    After all, somebody *might* see a crappy YouTube phone cam clip of a band and say "wow ... they suck!" and not bother to go see them live :-)

     

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  8.  
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    Starvin Artist, May 13th, 2008 @ 5:56am

    As a musician myself, albeit minor, I really don't care what fans do. If they're at my gig listening to my music, who cares what they're doing? I got them through the front door and it gets me paid. I just focus on rocking out as best as I can and hopefully they'll come back with friends next time (which means more people listening to my music, which is awesome, and a bit more profit which enables me to play more music). :)

     

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  9.  
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    SteveD, May 13th, 2008 @ 5:56am

    Re: Foul Copyright

    Thats not unusual.

    Saw Muse play Wembley Stadium last summer, and there were posters up everyware saying 'Please do not record this show as we want to release it on DVD'. There were bag searches on the doors confiscating anything bigger then a mobile phone.

    Of course plenty of reasonable quality video still made it onto youtube (along with lots of terrible quality video), but none of it came close to the professionally recorded and mastered DVD.

    It makes you wonder why they botherd.

     

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  10.  
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    Overcast, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:00am

    So they want to tell people how to enjoy themselves? Perhaps they should realize people are different, and have different things that they consider 'entertainment'.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:05am

    Count me as a fan whining about fans with mobile phones. I miss the day when I could enjoy a concert without three dozen people in front of me distracting me with their phones snapping pictures that are bound to look like crap anyway.

     

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    wasnt me, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:07am

    i agree, plus when ppl document there experiences like that they tend to share them through social networks or personal websites etc... and that will generate some free publicity to the musicians (granted its mostly very limited exposure but its better than nothing)

     

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  13.  
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    comboman, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:07am

    Re: No Cameras Allowed

    Unless you're actually on the stage with the musicians, a flash is not going to do any good anyway. For subjects more than 10 feet away, turn off your flash, it's annoying.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:10am

    Re: oh noes

    if your fans are too busy playing with their phones to enjoy the music, its time to crank it to 11 :)

     

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  15.  
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    eleete, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:12am

    Re: Camera Phones

    Maybe its not about the quality, maybe its people expressing themselves to their friends. Perhaps they're so excited they'd like to share the experience. No? I get pic mail all the time from crappy cell phone cams, on my crappy microscopic screen, and I love to see what someone else sees all the way across the country. It's not about the quality, its about the immediacy. Sharing an emotion or fun with someone, taking the experience home and yes, archiving it. I understand the lights may be a disruption, but jeez, its a concert, remember when people held up lighters ? No one said a thing. I guarantee you behind all this is the control of distribution. Recording the music (yes with a crappy mic on a cell phone) Recording the performance, and (GASP!!!!) sharing/distributing it on the web.

     

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  16.  
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    eleete, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: No Cameras Allowed

    Amazing discovery by web participant !!! Light stops at 10 ft... says he observed this 50 ft from the camera !

     

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  17.  
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    eleete, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:16am

    Re:

    A guy who gets it, much success to you my friend.

    eleete

     

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  18.  
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    Rob, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:38am

    I am afraid I disagree

    I've been to shows where every other person has their cell phone or digital camera out and it's extremely distracting to me. I can understand a couple of shots to maybe capture the light show or stage setup but I've seen tons of people who are watching the whole show through their device. That's completely ridiculous and because of the screen brightness it's distracting to the people around that person.

    They should start throwing people out of venues for doing it and the practice will quickly dwindle.

    Unrelated, but...I went to see Iron Man the other day and the guy in front of me (one seat to the left) was surfing youtube.com or checking his text messages on his iphone throughout the movie. Every time my eyes was distracted. Who does that? Who goes to a movie and surfs youtube on their iphone, especially Iron Man. Just another reason why I don't want to go to theaters anymore.

     

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  19.  
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    matt, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:45am

    constant phone pics = super annoying

    ever go to a show and have 2/3 of the people in front of you taking pictures constantly thru the entire show thru their mobile phone? how many copies of the same unrecognizable, blurry, dark cell-phone picture do you really need anyway?

    take a picture, sure why not. take 1,000, and I (and everyone else behind you!) will think you're a stupid goon moron.

     

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  20.  
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    Dan, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:00am

    cheap cameras vs. DSLR's

    This issue will continue to be a concern. As a semi-pro--but all for fun-- photographer with lots of money invested in gear and super high quality lenses, I avoid bringing any of this stuff to anything that would look even semi-pro to any event that might require a "camera pass". I am amused that a Canon 10D gets flagged as pro, and later the user convinces them it is a lower end Canon model. A 5D or 1Ds? Forget it--unless you put a cheap and short lens on it! Then it is not pro? Meanwhile as compact cameras increase in the available image quality, and zoom abilities, these people get in without any problem, and shoot away--along with their crappy flashes (learn how to use a camera folks--flashes are distracting to the artists on stage, and it is not a wedding!). These days, I just bring a high quality "so called one shot"--(Canon A650is). It takes some time to get it to take nice pictures in the dark, but it is better than getting harassed. Oh, and did I tell you about my Roland R-09 digital wav recorder with custom built mics? None of this is for profit, it all about preserving an experience. WWJA? What Would Jerry (Garcia) Allow? The Grateful Dead, and like bands, allow recording for the exact reason that FANS want to preserve an EXPERIENCE in their own way. As long as that recording is not distracting to the artist or the surrounding audience I think artists should lighten up a bit.

     

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  21.  
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    dfp, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:14am

    A Sea of phone displays

    I have to agree with the people who've had negative experiences along these lines. I've been to concerts where, from halfway back, easily half the people in the audience are looking at their phone displays. Some are "documenting" the experience (ever hear of just telling people about it?) and a surprising number of them are constantly texting their cohort. I've watched doormen/ushers have to roust people who simply stand in doorways or aisles, so absorbed in their texting that they don't notice they're blocking people from getting where they have to get - while the band plays on.

    Yeah, it's cool that modern tech is advancing so rapidly, and yeah, you can claim people have a right to use their toys if they feel like it, but I'd argue that such freedoms are predicated on the notion that people will also be c.o.n.s.i.d.e.r.a.t.e of the others around them who simply want to watch and listen. Just as the jerk who likes to use their speakerphone capability for a sales call while sitting in the coffee shop, or the schmuck who believes everyone should hear their music on the bus, I think you need to take into account the experience that the majority of people in that space can reasonably expect to have, and let them have it.

     

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  22.  
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    SteveD, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:16am

    Re: I am afraid I disagree

    "I can understand a couple of shots to maybe capture the light show or stage setup but I've seen tons of people who are watching the whole show through their device. That's completely ridiculous and because of the screen brightness it's distracting to the people around that person."

    Try being short, and you might understand why. ;)

     

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  23.  
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    Tony, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:17am

    Re: Re: Re: No Cameras Allowed

    That is why we get photo passes, so we can be right at the stage to get the best shot. I'm not a professional photographer in the least, but I understand there are times to use flash and there are times not to. And when I don't I know to wait for the right lighting effects to get the better shot. To me its just a hobby trying to get the best shot with your standard 7.1 MP Kodak camera. Its such a great feeling when I look at the pictures that turned out well, I just try to duplicate that as many times as I can.

     

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  24.  
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    ehrichweiss, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re: Foul Copyright

    I worked security a few years ago for a Bob Dylan show and I can safely say that the reason they bother is because after a while all those glowing screens(which just happen to be facing the rest of the audience when used "correctly") distract from the experience. Seriously, at one time there were enough in one area on the floor that you would have thought it was a planned event to light the area.

    Regardless, you bought tickets that likely had a clause attached saying that there would be no recording and that you will forfeit your ticket if you are caught violating it. Don't like it? Don't buy tickets to artists who don't allow it.

    We gave people warnings and yet we'd still see them taking video 1 minute later so I don't feel sorry for anyone whining about how they don't want to play by the rules, especially if they get removed from the show.

     

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  25.  
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    ehrichweiss, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re: No Cameras Allowed

    No, light doesn't stop at 10 ft, idiot, but it does get dimmer and dimmer proportional to the square of the distance, otherwise a candle could light a football stadium. Or did you not get that far in the physical sciences?

     

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  26.  
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    Rob, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re: I am afraid I disagree

    I am short.

     

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  27.  
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    Somebody Retarded, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:41am

    Re:

    I agree, I play guitar, I look over and somebody has a camera, phone, camcorder, whatever, pointed my way, I make a funny face smile at them and hope somebody will see it and want to come see us live...

    Maybe those big bands don't want that, but us little guys don't mind the free advertising...

     

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  28.  
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    Snapper Cridge, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:41am

    It's pretty simple. If I am at a concert and they are good...I'll be paying attention to the band not my phone. That's not to say that I won't take a pic or send it to a friend, but I'm not gonna be spending my time & the $150 I just spent on tickets taking crappy pictures the whole time!

    On the other side...Artists should spend more time enhancing their shows so a) they put on a top notch show and b) they embrace technology and figure out ways to include instead of exclude!

     

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  29.  
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    ehrichweiss, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:42am

    Re: A Sea of phone displays

    And we have a WINNER!! That's absolutely it. As I mentioned above, I worked a show where there were people who were so absorbed in what they were doing that they didn't seem to care what effect it had on the experience of others(kinda like that jerk at the dance club who flails his arms around wildly hitting, kicking and stepping on everyone around him...he's having a good time but that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do), and they often were sooo absorbed in using their little toys that they would ignore warnings to put them away. Hell, one guy I warned twice was in his mid-50s; one would think he would have some level of self-control by that age.

     

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  30.  
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    Dan Zee (profile), May 13th, 2008 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: Re: No Cameras Allowed

    Light falls off at a rate of the square of the distance. So at 2 feet, the light is 1/4 as bright as from 1 foot away, at 4 feet, 1/16 as bright, at 8 feet, it is 1/64 as bright. After about 10 feet, ambient room light swallows up any light from a flash bulb.

    However, just as you can see stars at night, but can't read a book from their light, so too do the flashbulbs going off annoy the musicians while doing nothing illuminate the photo.

     

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  31.  
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    cure fan, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:46am

    We just saw The Cure last night & I admit, we took photos with the camera phone. We had great seats & my husband wanted a photo of me with the band behind me to show the kids. Lots of camera phones & small point & shoots right up front near us, but the only one that got busted was a girl a few rows back with a huge paparazzi lens (don't even know how she got that IN) but they just told her to stop taking, they didn't it take away or anything.

    Great show and I will love those pics forever!

     

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  32.  
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    Olivia, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:58am

    true, very true.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 7:59am

    Just ban cell phones from your gig. Or is that too simple?

     

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  34.  
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    asdf, May 13th, 2008 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: oh noes

    my phone goes to 11

     

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  35.  
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    Liam, May 13th, 2008 @ 8:39am

    Re: Once everyone gets tired of bitching........

    the twenty-one-th? :p

     

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  36.  
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    Greg, May 13th, 2008 @ 8:44am

    Who was it?

    Mike, who did you see on Friday night? Curious who your favorite band is...

     

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  37.  
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    eleete, May 13th, 2008 @ 9:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No Cameras Allowed

    The response was, that flash didnt work from that far away yet now you jest about my physics while explaining that you understand. That flash works just fine from 50ft away if you learn how to adjust your camera for it. Ever heaer of Bounced Flash, That certainly increases the distance from the light to the subject too. But since this isnt physics or photography 101, I'll leave you to ponder the ignorant response some more.

    eleete

     

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  38.  
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    Jack, May 13th, 2008 @ 9:22am

    Silly audience Phones are for idiots

    I'm disappointed in the musicians who would whine about something so stupid. A musicians concert performance is 50% audio and 50% visual, neither one of which can be accurately captured by a cell phone. Anything more complex than a solo voice speaking directly into the mic of a cell phone comes back as crap upon playback, and the cameras are by no means capable of capturing enough detail in video to replace actually going to the concert. Its become "fashionable" almost to whip out your cell phone and snap pictures of vids, just so you have something to post on the youtube! 90% of it is total crap for quality! Theres no way a palm-sized cell phone can replace a 40-lb professional filming camera, not to mention the numerous mics needed to record a live performance. Relax let the idiots have there phones!

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No Cameras Allowed

    what a dink you are

     

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  40.  
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    estee, May 13th, 2008 @ 10:07am

    I have Asperger's, and the repeated use of the flash indoors from other people's cameras sets me off, makes me dizzy. This may not be true for all people with Asperger, but however my brain is wired, it's like enduring Chinese water torture when idjits start flashing their damned cameras.

     

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  41.  
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    Ben, May 13th, 2008 @ 10:16am

    Priorities

    If the audience is more into their phones then the band, maybe the band isn't that good?

     

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  42.  
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    Beefcake, May 13th, 2008 @ 10:22am

    Ruining the experience?

    Ever been to a concert and gotten so effed up you can hardly remember it? While they're at it, maybe they should be complaining about alcohol sales from the venue and that weird smell.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 11:26am

    No, just stupid rules.

    The complaint is more that the rules are stupid rather than not wanting to abide by them. Why ban videos? To keep it from getting on the web (and hurting DVD sales?). Did it work? No. Then your rules are dumb because they inconvenience everyone (bag searches suck, and rent-a-cops are expensive) and don't do what they're intended for.

    Nevermind that bootleg videos of a concert probably helped sales: if you were there and liked the show, maybe you bought a DVD. More likely, you wanted to be there but couldn't be, so you bought the DVD. And probably if you saw bootleg videos you decided you'd wished you were there and bough a professional video because the quality is so much better.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 11:36am

    Re: I am afraid I disagree

    I'm sure the zoom feature has nothing to do with it.

     

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  45.  
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    JustMe, May 13th, 2008 @ 12:43pm

    Mike gets to take an evening off?

    will wonders never cease

     

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  46.  
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    Spanky McGee, May 14th, 2008 @ 4:58am

    I'm just wondering where my comment that I made yesterday went. I came back here today to see if anyone replied, but my post is gone.... THE FUCKING MAN HAS SHOT CUM ON MY ANUS!

     

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  47.  
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    mountain girl, May 14th, 2008 @ 7:14am

    The Fray hates people with cell-phone cameras

    I had been a huge fan of The Fray when they were starting out in Denver. I went to several of their early concerts at local clubs. Then I got to see the band at an Ericsson-sponsored event during CTIA in Las Vegas. Because this was a mobile phone show, people throughout the crowd at the party were using their phones to photograph the band. I had never thought to do that when I saw the Fray in the clubs, so I joined the crowd. Unfortunately, I guess I got too close to the stage when I did it, and the lead singer called me out in front of the crowd, saying "you had better work for Ericsson if you're going to be doing that" or something to that effect. Wow...25 people taking photos and he singles out one fan (and I wasn't even using a flash...my phone didn't have one!!!). So, I guess my point is: Don't ever take cell-phone photos of The Fray, because they really don't like it. Personally, I'll never buy another Fray song/LP or attend another Fray concert after being so roundly criticized in public by their wimpy lead singer. Check out TickleMePink or SingleFile if you're into groups from the Denver. They're both way more interesting than The Fray will ever be.

     

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  48.  
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    JB, May 14th, 2008 @ 1:50pm

    I guess you also shouldn't raise a lighter, give the bird, showsome horns,have a girl on you shoulders, crowd surf, or mosh. Wait aren't most of these musicians in this article old as dirt so who care what they think. They charge to much for tickets anyways.

     

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