It came as a surprise to most of the fans attending last night’s Eagles concert at Philips Arena that the band institutes a “no smartphones” policy at its shows.
Yes, there were signs in the corridors leading to the seats and, prior to the show’s start, a booming voiceover on the video screens flanking the stage announced that the band requested phones turned off during the show (so no photos or videos, either). The band also asked that fans remain seated during the concert so that everyone could see the stage.
But did that warning come too late?
Other reviews of the Eagles’ “History of the Eagles” tour, which started last summer, noted this edict. But fans can’t be expected to research reviews before attending a show.
One fan at Monday’s concert, Andy Flink, was particularly incensed. He paid mightily for a pair of floor tickets and was aggrieved by the band’s policies, which he wished he had known about before buying his tickets. Fink said if he had known in advance, there was “no way” he would have spent $700 on tickets.
Flink said that he was reprimanded by an usher – who, it should be noted, was only following the rules established by the band – for opening his phone during the show to check if his babysitter had texted him.
“How many of the 20,000 people who attended have kids, elderly parents, concerns that they must remain attached to?” Flink noted in an email he sent me (he’s given permission that I use his information).
Flink also wished that a “fan advisory” emailed Monday morning had mentioned the phone ban or the “no standing unless we say it’s OK” rule that the Eagles employed. The advisory did state that “photography (including cell phone photography), audio and video recording are not permitted. Please leave all cameras, tablets and audio or video recorders at home.”
I’ve heard from other fans who were equally aggravated by the band’s policies, arguing that as paying customers, it is their right to enjoy themselves by standing at a show if they want to or pulling out their phone to text a friend.
It’s pointless to start rehashing all of the arguments about etiquette at concerts since the emergence of smartphones and tablets.
But I’ll say this: As someone who attends hundreds of shows a year, I appreciated the band’s mandate. It’s incredibly distracting having to dodge phones held aloft in an effort to get a glimpse of the stage and really, I don’t care about your Facebook status. And guess what? That light from your phone IS annoying.
I would also say in response to the “what if you have people you need to stay in touch with” argument…what did you do 10 years ago before you had a phone attached to your hand? You attended the concert and checked on things when it was over.
All that said, I hear and understand both sides.
Yes, I have used my phone during shows because my editor likes me to send out a tweet or two during the event. I do my job and then I put the phone away and return to taking notes on a pad. But that’s me.
And while I don’t have children, I realize that because we are so used to being in touch with everyone every second of every day, separation anxiety sets in when we’re told we can’t have contact.
Also, for those mad at the Eagles for instituting this type of policy, they aren’t the only act asking for fans’ full attention. Wilco has done it, and on recent tours, Neutral Milk Hotel and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have banned phones as well.
But the Eagles are a massive institution – it would be like the Rolling Stones or Fleetwood Mac or McCartney telling you to hit the off switch and sit down. The roar is a bit louder when coming from 20,000 people at an arena show.
So how do you feel about this? If you attended Monday’s show, were you thankful that you weren't distracted by people taking photos and video? Do you think the Eagles have the right to tell fans they can’t use their phones or stand (if they’re blocking others) at their concerts? Would you not attend an event if you knew in advance that such a policy existed?
Sound off below.