I’ve never mixed a Blue Oyster Cult show where the band didn’t perform “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” If I recall correctly, about 10 years ago we did a “fan club only” show that was supposed to not have “Reaper” in the set list, but they ended up playing it anyway. And for many years running, every time the crowd hears the opening guitar riff, everyone whips out their cell phones and starts taking video. I find it rude, disrespectful and distracting. Are you there to watch the band perform, or to watch the band perform through the screen on your phone?
That’s why I found it really interesting when a friend of mine told me about a King Crimson show he attended earlier this year. Attendees were warned not to take out their cell phones during the show, and of course there was one noodle-head who decided to do so. Robert Fripp promptly stopped the show and pointed in the direction of the offender, who was removed by venue security. Then the show continued.
Read more Mix Blog Live: Power Steering.
A slightly different scenario involved recent tour rehearsals for a female pop star. Anyone working the rehearsals went through airport-type screening on the way into the hall and was required to leave their cell phone outside of the secured area (of course, there were exceptions to this rule, such as the artist’s manager).
While it might sound a little extreme I don’t think it’s such a bad thing for an artist to protect his or her show from leaking out to the public before the tour starts. It ruins the surprise for audiences and deflates the mystique that goes along with not being able to get a sneak peek ahead of time.
All of this came to mind before a show I did in the Northeast a few weeks ago. After soundcheck the head of security wanted a few words with me, asking whether any band members would go into the audience, or if any audience members would be invited on stage (“no” and “no”). Then he asked what our policy was regarding recording, to which I replied, “No audio, no video, no flash photography—but I realize that it’s hard to control. If it was up to me, I wouldn’t want to see any cell phones during the show.”
“Oh, I can make that happen,” he replied rather casually.
“I would love that.”
The show started, and after a few songs I realized that not one person in the audience had their cell phone out. They were actually watching the show instead of texting, tweeting or whatever the heck else. Lo and behold, at the end of the show when the band started “Reaper,” the audience stood, but still no cell phones. I was astonished. When you take the option away, an audience can actually pay attention to a show instead of being vidiots. I found it most refreshing. They were never going to watch those videos anyway.