Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Merging vs. Observing: Concerts!

Perhaps you remember the old days when people in the audience at concerts would hold up a cigarette lighter. I always interpreted that as the fans saying, "Oh great Rock Star, you are like the sun, and this small flame is my way of showing my desire to merge with your great light." (Ok I know they were probably just high and doing the lighter thing because it seemed cool, but I'm a mystic and a poet, so there.)

In more recent years, you go to a rock concert and instead of lighters, you see the virtual "flame" from hundreds of smartphones instead. The meaning-making part of my brain wants to understand this shift in cultural consciousness. And the way I read it is, "Oh wow I'm in the presence of something awesome right now and I need to record it in some way." 

I've done that myself. I've snapped crappy, blurry photos of the performers. I've attempted to bootleg part of the show with Voice Recorder (doesn't work, volume is too loud). And I've tweeted and Facebooked about the show while it is happening.

In fact, I've been recording shows for posterity since I first started going to concerts in the 1980s. I was a photography major, and I use to plunk my ass down on the stage at the 930 Club in D.C. and take photos of the bands I was seeing. I was well aware that I was choosing to step back and protect myself from the intensity of the experience by hiding behind a camera.

What's a little strange for me is that now everyone else is doing it, too. And I'm not sure what to make of it.

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