By Olivia Ash, LASR General Manager
The concert experience has changed from an audience of listeners who simply want to hear music into a sea of wannabe photographers looking for that perfect Instagram shot.
This thought occurred to me during the last concert I attended at the Moore Theater in downtown Seattle at a rather absurd moment of the show.
A giant iPhone dropped down from the sky to the stage, the audience cheered and then began taking photos of the scene with their own iPhones. Oh, the irony.
This whole spectacle was all part of Father John Misty’s tongue-in-cheek performance on Oct. 6. Father John Misty is the moniker that Josh Tillman, a former Fleet Foxes band member, goes by.
Under this new name, Tillman embraces his own dark humor and uses his carefully crafted lyrics to make pointed societal criticisms. His genre can be best classified as a sort of folk hybrid, dripping in irony and sarcasm.
Perhaps the most obvious criticism made at his solo show was directed toward his audience. He opened with songs from his first album, “Fear Fun” and then switched to new material. To transition between the two, the stage crew lowered down a giant iPhone cutout which framed him in its screen.
Father John Misty said listeners nowadays seem to prefer encountering music mediated by an iPhone, a comment that the audience laughingly disregarded. The whole set was filled with the flash of camera phones. I hate to admit it, but I contributed one flash to the constant strobe — I had to capture his madness.
I wish I hadn’t, though. I wish I had heeded the advice of the wholly-wise Father John and left the phone zipped tight in my fanny pack.
This obsession to document every semi-interesting moment of life is dramatically effecting the concert experience. Rather than posting photos to simply share, the message between the lines seems to be “look at what I’m doing. Be interested.”
Perhaps my analysis is a bit cynical, but nonetheless I believe there is truth in it. No, I’m not saying that taking a photograph during a concert is undermining the experience. Nor am I preaching that photographs shouldn’t be taken at shows.
What I am saying is this: photos should be taken at a concert setting as a way to preserve the memory, but should not detract from the actual reason to attend a concert — the music. There is a problem if taking pictures is getting in the way of enjoying the tunes.
Father John Misty, I would like to thank you. Thanks for making me turn my camera lens in on itself and examine my own concertgoer philosophy. I wouldn’t have known all it took was a giant iPhone falling from the sky. ◼︎