Rob Damiani: “Live Music Isn’t About A Crappy Photo That You Can Put Up On Your Social Media”
With rock supergroup A Perfect Circle famously banning phones at their recent gigs and implementing a ‘no photos’ policy, there’s been a raging debate of late about acceptable levels of technology usage at shows.
We caught up with Don Broco frontman Rob Damiani – whose latest album Technology touches on these themes – to get the point of view of someone on the receiving end of dealing with snap-happy gig-goers.
This is what he had to say…
“I’ve got a real thing against phones at gigs. I definitely take pictures if I’m at a show, but I am very conscious. It’s something you probably don’t think about when you’re in the crowd, but when you’re on the other end, onstage, it’s the most off-putting thing you could ever see at a show.
“I get that you want to remember the night, but you also want to enjoy yourself. You are never going to enjoy a gig [that way], because the moment you have your phone in the air, you start worrying about trying to get a good picture or video. If you magnify that by how many people are also doing that, it just sucks the energy from a room. Live music is about living in the moment, about being there and experiencing it. It’s not about having a crappy photo that you can put up on your social media the next day, or while you’re at the gig.
“The worst thing is the people in the front row. I know how hard it is to get to the front – you’ve either got to queue up super early or battle your way there – but as a singer you vibe off the crowd, and then you look down and there are people on their phones. Maybe they’re taking a photo, which is fine, but if not they’re actually uploading it, and you can see them tapping away because they feel like they need to post it there and then. You just see this green light on their face illuminating them, so it really stands out. If there’s a row of people and there’s one or two people doing it, it’s very obvious, and as a singer, it strikes this chord of anger and disappointment, and almost failure. It’s like, ‘Are we bad?!’ You hope they’re just uploading a good picture and not just texting their mates! I don’t know if other band members do this, but all this stuff runs through my head.
“We just went on tour with I The Mighty in America, and their guitarist told us that they were onstage playing a show, and halfway through, he looks down and tries to click his pedal board, and someone in the front row has plugged in their phone! They’ve actually gone on to his pedal board where he’s got his power adapter, and plugged in their iPhone to charge it and text! He gave them a few stares, and he was getting angrier and angrier as the show went on, but this guy in the crowd didn’t take any notice. He was so close to just lobbing the phone across the crowd, but he managed to stop himself in the last few seconds (laughs).”
So there you go. If you’re at a Broco gig (and there’s plenty coming up…), think twice about sticking your phone up in the air for the entire show. It not only restricts others’ view, but makes bands feel like no-one’s properly paying attention to the performance in front of them.
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