Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The most extraordinary thing about the Duran Duran concert

Yes, I went to see Duran Duran last week at the Austin Music Center. I am not really what you would call a fan, but my companion was, so we went to the (appallingly unfinished) AMC to catch the band. The most striking thing about the concert -- besides the fact that they didn't play Hungry Like the Wolf -- wasn't on stage, it was in the crowd. Here's what things looked like before the band took the stage:

Empty stage at Duran Duran concert
And here's how it looked once the band took the stage:
Duran Duran takes the stage
 Duran Duran - left side of crowd Duran Duran - right side of crowd
Dozens and dozens of mobile devices snapped open and started taking pictures and video. And they stayed open for nearly the entire concert. The band (and the bouncers) didn't even blink. Gone are the days of trying to stop bootlegging -- a virtual impossibility now that nearly every phone can take live video and photos. What's more, I saw some of the crowd using their devices as periscopes, angling them high above the rest of the crowd to get a ten-foot view. I'm quite sure the people with actual cameras were zooming in as well.

Here's something else. You've tried talking during a concert? Doesn't work well. My companion and I shared a phone, tapping text messages to each other and reading them off the screen rather than sending them.

So what? Just an observation that these ubiquitous mobile devices are seeping unnoticed into every activity. It's not like the people in the crowd had to think hard about using their devices in this context -- the use was obvious, and pulling the devices out was ... a reflex, the door to finding treasure in the dark.

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