the edge of cell phones at music concerts


Peter Frampton, 8.9.14

I attended a concert over the weekend, August 9, 2014.  The aging rocker from the 70’s, Peter Frampton was on stage.

I was invited to the concert by my old college roommate’s wife.  She selected a small group of friends and relatives and bought us tickets to celebrate my old roommate’s birthday.

On August 3, 2014, at a concert in Carmel, Indiana, Mr. Frampton went over “the edge” when grabbed the cell phone of a fan in the front row and tossed it because the fan was taking “selfies” and video during the concert.

At the concert I attended, the house announcer indicated that Mr. Frampton, would only allow pictures to be taken during the first 3 songs.  After that, use of cell phones would be “prohibited.”

Mr. Frampton gave a commentary during the concert about how he did not like people to use cell phones during his concerts and how he did not like to look out into a dark auditorium and see people posting to social media, taking selfies or videos because it was distracting to the band.

Are cell phones, with or without a flash, any different than people taking flash pictures with cameras, or lighting a lighter, at concerts in the past?

At the concert I attended, when he began to play one of his famous songs, “Do you feel like we do,” a large number people decided to take out their cell phones and capture some video and pictures.

A bunch of people suddenly appeared in the audience and started to put their hands in front of anyone’s cell phones were taking video.  This caused a big commotion in the venue and began to disrupt the concert.

So what is the edge of using cell phones at music concerts?

In today’s age of social media, should anyone be prevented from using their cell phone at a concert?  Or should they?

What is the balance between the distractions for the band and the perceived “right” of concert goers to immediately capture and post their experience to social media?

It’s interesting because, Peter Frampton used to sell out large venues in the 60,000+ range.  Now he is playing in front of 600 people instead.  The venue I saw the concert in had a capacity of 2000, and was less than half full by my estimate.  There were alot of empty seats.

There were a number of teenage children in the audience who were not even born in the century when Mr. Frampton was popular.  These kids could introduce a whole new generation to Mr. Frampton’s music via their social media posts during his concerts.  If they were allowed to do so.

So what is the edge of distractions for the band vs. exposure to a potential whole new audience for old time rocker’s music from older fans and younger fans?

Aren’t cell phones just the modern version of the cigarette lighter everybody used to bring to concerts in the past anyway?

Out There on the Edge of Everything®…

Stephen Lesavich, PhD

Co-author of the award-winning book:  The Plastic Effect:  How Urban Legends Influence the Use and Misuse of Credit Cards.