The last time Kate Bush took to the stage, the prototype of the mobile phone was undergoing its first trials.. Now in 2014, as she prepares for her first British tour in thirty-five years, she is faced with a different world. These days at gigs, the introductory chords of the token power ballad prompt us to reach for the Torch setting on our phone rather than a good old-fashioned lighter.
Not to mention the endless regrams, live-tweets and posts that have become a practically instinctive action for the millennial music-lover. Some app developers have gone one step further to cater for our fixation for sharing every aspect of our lives, such as Vyclone, which encourages audiences to film at concerts and then brings together the footage to create a crowd-sourced video of the event.
So it comes to no surprise that headlines were made when Bush took to her website requesting that her fans come sans technology to her upcoming gigs, justifying that it would “allow us to all share in the experience together.” By initiating a phone-free event, Bush’s actions will result in ‘sharing’ taking a whole new meaning as the audience will be forced to separate from the small screens and sing, rather than tweet, along to Wuthering Heights.
Though one could accuse the seasoned singer on not keeping up with the times, it seems that even more current artists are starting to wage a war against our phobia to be phoneless. At a gig last year, the ever-sassy Beyonce berated one of her fans who was filming her on his smartphone by saying: “I’m right in your face, baby. You gotta seize this moment. Put that damn camera down!”
Though well-established artists such as Bush and Beyoncé can afford to take such a stance, it’s undeniable that technology and social media have now become essential tools for emerging artists to gain exposure. Creator of Vyclone Sam Watt states: “fans filming are now part of the concert experience, that is just a fact […] I can’t see a world where artists who aren’t embracing it are going to be able to carry on.” Watt may have a point: as annoying as it might be for a musician to walk on stage and be greeted by a sea of tiny lit screens, if you’re going to be the next Beyoncé you’re going to have to accept the omnipresence of the almighty smartphone.