In a couple of years, cell phone free events may become a mainstay of your weekend adventures. The Bay Area start-up, Yondr, has come up with a way to curb cell phone use during live performances. Before rocking up to the show, Yondr requires that attendees with cell phones place their mobiles into small remotely lockable cases. Once you enter the cell phone-free zone, the case locks. No more photobombing countless selfies, no more blurry pictures, and no more watching the stage through everyone’s miniscule screen. But, if your situation is dire and you need to use your phone, you can easily leave the Yondr zone (unlocking the case) to reconnect with your lost loved one. Yondr’s stated purpose is this: to show people how powerful a moment can be when we aren’t focused on documenting or broadcasting it.
Bans on cell phones at shows have become increasingly popular in recent years, even before Yondr came around. While not so common on the EDM front, bands like The Eagles, Prince, The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, and Beyonce have made it policy that cell phones are not to be used during their events. Fans that refused to obey the rules have been kicked out of the concert. And we know from personal experience that attending an event and having to watch it through everyone else’s cell phones is incredibly aggravating. We are not alone in our thoughts and it seems something needs to be done. We worry that getting this concept through at EDM shows may pose a bit of a struggle however, as fans of the electronic genres post an incredible 30% more than concert goers of other types of music. Furthermore, according to ticketing agency Eventbrite, 1 out of every 4 posts about EDM occurs during a live event. In a year that’s a cool 17 million posts.
And while we all love a nauseatingly bouncy video taken from a potato quality smartphone camera, we would like to welcome the change. But, it could be tough. At small club events, this seems doable – no one is ever too far away and it would prevent the sea of screens from overwhelming the show. The biggest challenge of course, will be trying to sway social behavior into the here and now rather than the electronic world. We think the benefits are numerous, including a level of privacy that hasn’t been seen in about a decade. When strangers are not documenting everything, it becomes much easier to be free with your actions.
But, when you take Yondr to a larger festival environment, it may lose traction. People need to be able to communicate with each other to navigate the crowds and not everyone has walkie-talkies. And while Yondr does have neutral zones at venues, we wonder how that would play out with multiple stages, a much larger area to cover, and people bouncing from area to area. Still, the idea of enjoying a performance without the glare of a screen is pretty appealing and we would love to see Yondr integrate their solution into a larger environment.
Just recently, we wrote about Mini Power, a disposable one-up battery pack for your cell phone. At first glance, it would seem that Yondr and Mini Power would not play well together. But, it seems to us that Mini Power would really shine at the multi-day massives rather than small shows and there could certainly be room for both in such a large environment. If Yondr ever came to the big events, no doubt there would large neutral zones, including campsites where Mini Power would certainly have its use.
It will be interesting to see how this trend in cell-phone free events plays out across the EDM sphere in the PNW. Our community loves its technology but there is also an unquestionable desire for authenticity and living in the moment. After all, dance music is all about connecting – whether it is to the music, somewhere deep inside yourself, or to the people around you.
What do you think? Are you happy to put the phone away?
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