In 2016, it’s very rare to catch someone actually living life and not staring down at their phone. The more that cell phones are used, the less you live in the present moment, and thus Alicia Keys is back to reclaim her live performances: the R&B diva is enforcing a strict rule that very few may enter her concerts with active cell phones.
At the entrance, Keys makes it a point to collect all phones into a sealed, locked pouch that you may carry with you, but you cannot use. The only way to use your phone is to go outside and a table with a metal disk will break the tension once the bag is tapped onto the metal disk and it will open.
According to The Washington Post, Benji Spanier received a message from Keys’ manager as fans stood in line awaiting entrance into her concert at the Highline Ballroom. “This is a ‘phone-free event,’ he tells fans waiting in line. And that doesn’t mean airplane mode. Spanier holds a gray, rubbery pouch in his hand. Your phone goes in here, he says, and then we lock it.”
Yondr is the company that provides celebrities with the ability to make their concerts phone-free events. Yondr was created two years ago by Graham Dugoni, a former college soccer player who had an epiphany while watching a few people record and upload videos of a drunk man dancing at a festival to YouTube. “If a guy can’t go to a concert and just kind of let loose, what does that do to all interactions in the social sphere?” Dugoni says.
Yondr is used by many celebrities in order to provide the best experience at their concerts and events. The product has been used by Chris Rock during his warm-up show before he hosted the Oscars, the surprise Guns N’ Roses reunion gig at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, electric artist ZHU, comedian Hannibal Buress, and the list goes on.
The Washington Post reports “…the pouch serves two purposes. The artist can try out new material without worrying about it being leaked. Fans will also realize that they actually enjoy a show more without constantly filming, texting and Tweeting.” Dugoni says, “If you haven’t been to a phone-free show, you just don’t know what you’re missing. There’s something about living in real life that can’t be replicated.”
Fans have been having mixed emotions on the newest concert craze. Some embrace the idea, agreeing that it provides a better concert experience, while others stand by needing their phone for the memory and for friends.
The Washington Post interviewed Ahtivah Lawton, 22, who embraced the idea of a phone-free concert zone saying, “Nobody values people’s music, nobody values release dates, and when music gets leaked, it destroys the mystery.”
Meanwhile, Gerard Little, 24, didn’t appreciate the idea. He says, “In this day and age, my phone is how I keep my memory… Chris Brown. Jason Derulo. I have their footage on my phone. If you don’t want your music heard, then don’t perform it.”