Two Mondays previous I was in DC with The Cheese Puff to see my all time favorite band. I had been supposed to see them here in Cleveland at the beginning of November as well, but that’s a whole other story with a lot of glaring looks and friendly ribbing over Polish beer and an unnecessarily large charcuterie board.
There had been a great deal made over the fact that there was an extremely strict no camera (including phones) policy at the concert. News outlets had reported that people had been removed from shows for recording. Now I have no doubt that a large portion of this was to prevent bootlegging. But I also believe that a portion of this was also to force the audience to experience the show through their own eyes, rather than a camera screen.
Let’s back up a bit.
Two years previous I had the great fortune of attending the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. For anyone who has not experienced an F1 Grand Prix they are, indeed Grand. There is an almost over abundance of entertainment options aside from the actual racing. This includes concerts. Anyone with a pass into the race can attend the concerts as well. Because my life is charmed an unreal Flower and I found ourselves in the ‘Golden Circle’ (the reserved area right in front of the stage) for Mumford and Sons (who, by the way, are utterly amazing live). One of the things that struck me was how many people were not just taking photos/videos, but how many were doing this to such a degree that they probably ended up watching the majority of the show on their phone. This is not to say that I myself did not take some pictures. Of course I did. A few here, a few there. The same with the race. But in both instances my main goal was to actually watch what was going on in front of me. And most of the race pictures were to later prove to myself that I had actually been there because, as I have often stated, I don’t believe my own life.
So back to Tool, which is the band that The Cheese Puff and I were seeing if you didn’t already know that or me.
For the first segment of the concert not a single phone was seen in the audience. Not a single one. It was actually amazing. I hadn’t realized until then how much other people taking pictures and what not could detract from my own experience until that wasn’t there anymore. I was so absorbed in what was going on that there is a whole song (so this being Tool, about 15-20 minutes) that I don’t reliably remember being played (this of coursed caused a great deal of consternation between The Cheese Puff and I as she did recall it being played, but because I didn’t she began to question her reality and because she did I began to question mine. The lesson here is that when two blindingly co-dependent people disagree on reality, the concept of reality fades to meaninglessness. I’ve no doubt that’s what Maynard et al. intended).
Before playing the last song Maynard announced that because everyone had been so well behaved we would be allowed to use our phones. Immediately every phone in the arena came alive (yes, mine included). However, I was somewhat amazed that after a minute or two of furious pictures/videos the vast majority seemed to go away (yes, mine included). It was as if, after two hours of going without it, most people just wanted a couple pictures to later prove to themselves that they had been there, and then wanted to return to living in the moment.
And then in both the blink of an eye and an eternity it was over. The moment had been lived in and scurried off to the eternal conglomeration of all moments, lived in or otherwise. As we ourselves scurried off to other moments. And whether or not we live in those moments or merely observe their passing we will just have to wait and see.