Put Your Phone Away at Shows

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Hey. Quit taking pictures and video of live bands.

Oh hi. Last month I went to Kansas City to see Marduk with Incantation and Abysmal Dawn. It was literally one of the best live experiences I have ever had. This was my first time seeing a real black metal band in person, and now it is my favorite genre of metal to experience in the live setting. I won’t pretend to be the biggest Marduk fan in the world, but I have a few albums that are pretty spectacular in my opinion and didn’t want to miss an opportunity to see a serious black metal band. The intensity was tangible, like a toxin in the air filling everyone’s lungs. But I guess it wasn’t all that impressive to a few younger audience members, because they couldn’t put their f**kin’ cellphones down for more than a few seconds at a time.

I’ll save you some time and put this right here:

Now I know how it feels to have other people view photographs of things that I have experienced in real life, on different social media platforms, and rake in them coveted “like” symbols. It feels good. But do you know what feels better? Experiencing things in real life; for instance seeing a stellar performance by the Swedish black metal giants Marduk. During their set, I essentially left this earthly plane and ventured into a different world, a world in which my active mind didn’t worry about all the complex problems of life (and remembering all the quotes from The Simpsons). During their set, I calculated that I was having about 261 times as much fun as I would be having if I were just looking at an image of the band on Instagram or watching somebody’s “live” feed of the performance on the book of faces. Yet there we were in a packed venue, having the time of our lives, but one in which 10 or more people had their phones held up high, to capture that coveted stream of “like” buttons (and hopefully a few “wow”s from aunts and uncles who find this kind of music too spooky) on a digital representation of life.

Here’s my favorite Marduk song:

You’ll have to forgive me, I told you I wasn’t a gigantic Marduk fan and therefore I didn’t really know which songs were being played, nor from which albums. So I couldn’t tell you which track was being played at the time, other than with this description: it was amazing. And Mortuus was giving a performance that deserves a full five flaming toilets ov hell (maybe more), yet some kid was recording video on a cell phone that was twelve inches from his face. Do we believe that Mortuus is the kind of guy who prefers having a cell phone that close to his mouth when performing? A guy who looks — and sounds — like he could dispatch of me entirely in one fell swoop. Okay let’s disregard how he looks, do you think anybody giving a performance that intense enjoys putting on a show in front of a camera lens for a small coven of Internet people? We were in a small venue, packed yes but maximum occupation of 300 people. And it turns out, a bunch of curious friends and other onlookers waiting by their computer screen to see what crazy experiences Chad was having.

Ghost was the worst offender that I have seen, cell phone wise. When their tours hit St. Louis, they’re hosted in a decent sized theater called The Pageant (which apparently can hold between 1,000 and 2,300 heavy metal dads who just obtained their first smartphone). No, I don’t believe I could visually see a single moment of Ghost’s 1.5 hour set because my vision was blocked by a fleet of phones. Somebody may correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the audio quality still pretty shitty on video recorded with modern phones? It was five years ago, but maybe they’ve gotten better? I’m kidding of course, it still sounds so bad that you might as well be listening to power electronics.

So who are these videos intended to please? I am willing to guess that the concert goer is going to watch those videos in the coming days, or even weeks; and reminisce about how great the show was. That feeling of nostalgia comes close not close at all to the feeling of actually experiencing something. And I am darn sure that the experience of seeing a live band is hindered even further if you spend the whole time holding up your phone steadily trying to capture the… well, the experience.

Kids put your phones away and try enjoying things in real time! I doubt any of you Toilet people are offenders, but perhaps we can get the word out to those who are. Or if you’re really attached to the validation of sharing images your life experiences to your boring friends to show them how cool you are, keep doing it… but know that you are kinda ruining live shows.

Marduk slayed. Abysmal Dawn and Incantation were no slouches either, but they didn’t blow my mind. Things have changed now. I need to see all black metal bands live. Without having my vision blocked by a hundred million small screens mirroring what I’m seeing firsthand with my eyes.

***

Bonus Toilet Material! Here are the best pictures I could get with my stupid phone:

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  • Lacertilian
    • Lacertilian

      In all seriousness though, it does bum me out seeing a sea of phone screens instead of fists/horns/lighters/beers held above the crowd.

      When we saw Marduk earlier this year I ended up heading home early about 2/3rds of the way through their set, not long after Colin Marston left (he was standing in front of me during the gig, I swear I didn’t follow him for the remainder of the tour and document his every move like Attenborough observing a rare species).

      Either their super treble-skewed sound fucking sucked or my ears were already blown-out from Gorguts, Mgła, and Ulcerate who supported them. I’m leaning toward the former, as the other bands had impeccable sound (especially Gorguts and Mgła). I should have got some footage of the show for you to hear.

      • GoatForest

        When Watain, one of my all time favorite bands, came to New Orleans, I watched half the damn set through the screen of some jack off. At this point, I get psychotically angry whenever I see a cell phone raised high in the air for more than a few seconds at a live show. I am generally a peaceful man, but that shit makes me seriously reconsider my stance.

      • GrumpDumpus

        PROTIP IF YOU HEADBANG THE WHOLE TIME YOU DON’T SEE EVERYONES PHONE

  • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

    God bless you, McNulty, for writing this

  • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

    One thing I must add is that maybe we should all also stop viewing Youtube videos of bands recorded with a cellphone (I know I try, and sometimes I fail, like when I watched a video of Morbid Angel’s new song “Warped” because curiosity got the best of me). I know it is tempting to watch a band debut a new song, or catch a performance of which no official and professionally recorded version is available, but when we watch and comment on those kind of videos, we are giving people what they want; attention. Leave their shitty ill filmed videos in obscurity. Let us all yell at this cloud together

  • Howard Dean

    So I’m pretty fucking impressed that McNulty digs Marduk. Byaaaahhhhh!

    Wormwood is probably my favorite of their newer albums with Mortuus/Arioch in the band. What other albums do you dig, McNulty? I’m pretty partial to the trio of Opus Nocturne, Heaven Shall Burn… When We Are Gathered, and Panzer Division.

    • Zeke

      I’ve always thought that heaven shall burn is substantially better than everything else. opus nocturne is decent. the rest I don’t like

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY
    • GoatForest

      For me, its Serpent Sermon. I know how to love the lie.

      • Their best album I’d say, or maybe tied with Rom

  • Quit your facebook.
    Quit your twitter thing.
    Delete your disqu…(just kiding)
    Live in the moment.
    Have fun at your show.

    Cosigned.

    GL

    • Gym up and hit the lawyer

    • Howard Dean
    • Count_Breznak

      Take that tablet away from the “sound” “engineer” stumbling about the crowd fucking up the already poor sound even further. Shove it up his colon, sideways, on fire.
      It might improve the sound.
      It might not.
      But it sure is satisfying.

      • GrumpDumpus

        RECORD THE SOUND OF IT ENTERING THE COLON AND RELEASE IT ON NAPSTER AS A THROBBING GRISTLE B-SIDE

  • Toilet ov Hell? more like Toilet ov telling people what to do

    • Lacertilian

      NO ANIME

  • I usually try to grab a few pics and put that shit away. I’ve been to so many shows over the past 3+ decades that I wish I had an iPhone image to remember some of the earlier ones but these days it’s just gotten out of hand. I miss the good old days when Axl Rose would jump off the stage and beat your ass for sneaking in a camera.

    • more beer

      It’s super annoying when I am watching a band from a great spot and some asshole decides he needs to get in front of me to put his phone in the air. I go to shows for the live experience not to get a shitty recording off of my phone. It will probably happen tonight when I go see Sacred Reich.

      • Sacred Reich is awesome. Wish I still had original pressings of Ignorance and The American Way. LMK how the show was (words, not phone video haha.)

        • more beer

          It;s the first time I am seeing them since 89 when I saw them with Vio-lence. I have been looking forward to this show for a couple of months. I have an extra ticket if you can make it to Denver by 8:00. I will let you know after I get home tonight.

        • more beer

          Jay they were as good as they were back in the day and they looked like they were having the time of their lives. They played a bit of everything , they had the crowd singing & clapping along. Then for their encore ended the set just the way I expected them to with Death Squad & Surf Nicaragua. It was an older crowd so there were less phones out than usual, there was also a line down the block to get in, which for a Monday night was pretty impressive. If they come thru your neck of the woods go see them, it was well worth the 22 bucks, which I could have saved because a friend of mine is friends with someone who works for them and she offered me a free ticket, but I had one already so I told her to give it to someone else.

      • Óðinn
        • more beer

          Thanks man!

  • Hey! I was there too!
    And yeah, it’s really annoying to see people spend 75% of the show staring at their phones. Especially when dipshits like this get on stage to try and take a picture with the band DURING THAT BAND’S GODDAMN PERFORMANCE. I don’t jump in on your fucking board meeting to take a picture with you, so don’t do that shit to these guys that are doing their job. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CuEJ55UVcU

    • It was a magical night <3

    • Dubby Fresh

      You can jump in any meeting with me that you want <3

  • Zeke

    luckily I basically stopped going to shows before the whole cellphone video craze seems to have gotten out of hand. when I still attended/played shows, people would just take some pictures on their phones and that would be it. at one point I was playing with a band where kids were very infatuated with our two singers, to the point that when we played in smaller venues, kids would climb over my pedals to get a good shot of the singers. I was wearing new balance sneakers at that time where the “NB” logo would reflect light; so when kids got too up in my shit, I’d angle my sneakers so the reflection would blow up their pictures. I used to see pictures like that online all the time

  • BobLoblaw

    Couldnt agree more. I dont go to many shows anymore so I dont know how bad its gotten but if its anything like the outings with my son, it must be terrible. Watching peaple turn a day out with their family into a fucking photoshoot is repulsive.

  • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

    SOMETIME THEY CATCH SOMETHING FUNNY THOUGH!!!!!

    https://youtu.be/Z67484-6Wtc

  • sweetooth0

    People who stand there filming the entire show with their phones fucking suck. I mean, sure grab a quick clip to throw on a FB post, then enjoy the fucking show. I’ve even seen people doing this with a fucking tablet. There is nothing less metal than that shit.

    • more beer

      I saw one guy stand there for a whole show with a selfie stick in the air. I really wanted to bash that thing over his fucking head.

      • sweetooth0

        that our vlad him and shove it right up his ass

        • more beer

          That works as well..I hate being attached to my phone 24/7 It’s bad enough I need to have it all day to conduct business. Once I am out it stays put away for the most part.

          • sweetooth0

            I don’t even have a smart phone. I stare at a computer all day, I don’t need to carry another computer around with me at all times, and practically everyone I know has one anyway.

          • more beer

            I have a cheap one 80 bucks, because my schedule gets sent to me via e-mail and I am too lazy to write down all of the various addresses I have to go to. Plus it plugs into my stereo in my truck for all of the music I have on it. I do a lot of driving, so music is a must and CD’s always get fucked up.

          • GoatForest

            My smart phone is my computer…. 🙁

        • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse
        • GoatForest

          Yessssssss.

    • Spear

      When I saw Carcass, I got stuck behind some old dude filming the whole thing on a giant DSLR camera. The thought of “accidentally” knocking it into the pit definitely crossed my mind a few times.

  • Hashtown

    I like recording short videos at shows, but by short I mean like 1 minute. I usually don’t keep my phone out for more than 90 seconds for each band. That way I have a quick clip for memories or Instagram and can enjoy the rest of the show in the moment

  • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse
  • CT-12

    I remember discussing this a while back with some of y’all, specifically remember W saying he wished he had taken more photos of shows he went to. Couldn’t agree more; I’ve had the same regret. Do I need 80 photos? Nah, I just try to get one right when the band gets on stage and before they’ve started playing so I have something to remember the show by, then let loose.

    • Dubby Fresh

      Snap a quick photo or two for the ol’ scrapbook, and bam! Kick back and enjoy the ride. No need to film the whole thing.

  • Managainst Catfish

    I may be in the minority here, but I really don’t give a shit what other people are doing, as long as no one spills my beer or tries to spin-kick my fucking face (that shit will get you layed out). When did metal get so many fucking rules? Abe Simpson is my hero & shit, but c’mon.

    • A fleet of phones held up in the air ruins a good show. I’m not trying to enforce rules, just ask for some consideration. (Speaking of rules, I wish Mortus would have smacked the phones out from in front of his face.)

      • AndySynn

        I’m surprised he didn’t. He’s known for taking some rather… extreme actions against concertgoers who tempt his wrath.

  • Kyle Reese

    Jimmy, cell phones at concerts are stupid except for a photo. Even if you had a good mic on a phone, there is no way it’s ready to handle the decibels. But if people just want to live their life in a 3×5 reality, fuck ’em. Also, your photos – I only counted one cell phone up taking photos. So…is this a troll job?

    • GoatForest

      I say: knock the phones out of the hands of those show ruining jerks.

    • Not at all. Or is it?
      It’s not. There wasn’t quite the sea of 5″ screens at this particular show. It was the worst up front, and I was in back.

  • GoatForest

    Jimmy, I will spread your message as far as my facebookless ass can.

  • ozzyzak

    I always take opportunities like this to revel in the time I saw Satyricon with Nocturno Culto at Wacken 2004. I shit you not there were literally no cell phones to be seen. People were in all states of revelry at that point, one guy in particular standing out who appeared to be crazily muttering incantations to himself. What a crazy fucking night.

  • J.R.™

    My Lumia 950 is super good in the lighting conditions these kind of concerts take place in, and the audio it captures is amazing. Usually if I want to record a snippet of a song for whatever reason, I make sure I keep my phone below my head level so I’m not ruining someone else’s view.

  • Eliza

    I get taking one or two pictures, but don’t try to record the entire show. What’s​ the point of even going to the show then?

  • NDG

    I look at people filming shows on their phones and wonder where they are getting all the storage from.

  • Lord of Bork

    I’ll usually take a photo or two early on in the set and then put the phone away for the remainder. If I manage to snap a good pic, I might look at it later or share it on facebook or whatever, but nobody who films that shit is ever watching that grainy, terrible sounding video ever again.

    Except for my friend who records the entirety of every Phish concert he goes to. I have no explanation for that.