Song elevates our being and leads us to the good and the true. If, however, music serves only as a diversion or as a kind of vain ostentation it is sinful and harmful
While the context of Friedrich Nietzche’s words is of a time vastly different from today’s age of technological advancement, the great German philosopher’s observation is of alarming relevance when applied to the ways of contemporary live music. In particular, this is pertinent of peoples’ obsessive habit of recording live performances on their mobile phones, a problem which is itself the product of a wider societal yearning for attention and approval. It serves as a barrier between the fan and the artist, steadily destroying the magic of the live show, breeding soullesness.
I recently happened across a tweet that had gained a large amount of traction. It consisted of a gig-goer denouncing another who had requested her footage from a show they’d both attended (the guy had somehow lost his own recordings). He promised not to “claim” the footage as his own but went on to regardless, resulting in his public lambasting.
The post’s popularity raises genuine questions about what today’s crowds are hoping to fulfill when attending live gigs. I like to hope the majority of us buy tickets to see our favourite artists in order to celebrate and share or lives’ soundtracks, to let loose, to enter a state where nothing matters but the here and the now. This increasingly feels like contrived romanticism when many around us obnoxiously attempt to catch the best shot that can be shared, liked, retweeted, commented on, reacted to, NOTICED! Even the most positive mind must concede that this behaviour is almost robotic.
We are bottomless fucking pits that no amount of short-lived approval will ever fulfill. Psychological studies show that social media gratification creates an instant dopamine high that in many cases leads to a sort of addiction. We become excessive in our pursuit of online happiness to an extent that ensures long-term fulfilment is ungraspable.
Woodstock, Spike Island, such mythical events are, for those luckily enough to have attended them, permanent. These shows stand the test of time because of a shared spirit. A spirit that places overwhelming value on people coming together. Not just fans, but their connection with who they came to see. Cameras and insincere motives directly nullify that ethos.
As the outrage to Snoop Dogg and BADBADNOTGOOD’s brilliantly contentious Lavender music video satisfyingly proves, music still possesses the ability to genuinely shock people. The art form remains as vital as ever and the challenge presented by constant video recording can and should be countered. The act of banning mobile phones from gigs could be the most punk thing since Sid Vicious wore a Swastika emblazoned t-shirt in the late 70s. Venues, promoters, bands – make it happen.