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Concert Going in the Digital Age

By Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl) I don’t know about you, but I love going to see bands play – huge stadium shows, indie bands in intimate clubs, cult favorites that I have loved since University…  I love the experience. Seeing a friend play at a small club in Manhattan last night, I thought – as I Read more

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By Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)

I don’t know about you, but I love going to see bands play – huge stadium shows, indie bands in intimate clubs, cult favorites that I have loved since University…  I love the experience. Seeing a friend play at a small club in Manhattan last night, I thought – as I uploaded a photo of him to my Facebook page and then Tweeted my location, from my phone – about how very different the concert experience is in the digital age than it was even a couple of years ago.

When I was in high school and at university, in the early 90s, we would go see bands perform, our eyes glued to the stage (and darting around the crowd).  The entirety of our attention was on the concert, on the band, on the singer, on the crowd. In that club. At that moment. The point of the evening was not simply the music, but experiencing all of those elements together. I’d take snapshots with my 35mm camera, peel set lists from the stage and posters from the wall, but my attention was entirely in that place. There are shows I went to in 1994 that friends and I still talk about – but they are entirely relived through our mutual memories, the stories we tell (and maybe the occasional band T-shirt that hasn’t hit the donation bin).

There are no hashtags for those memories or those moments.

Flash forward to 2010 and the concert experience is a very different one.  Look around next time you see a band play – even in the most intimate of venues, you will see that at least 30% of the people have their smart phones out – snapping photos, recording snippets of songs, jotting down thoughts – sharing the experience, in real time, with their network of friends and followers.

There are loads of websites now offering the live streaming of concerts. Facebook’s mobile apps make it simple to take photos and post updates right from your front row seat. On Twitter, you’ll see “friend’s” pics and get their real-time impressions. Whether it’s someone you actually know, someone you simply follow or a magazine or newspaper – live-tweeting from the event, it’s almost as good as being there. Right?

I don’t know about that.

I do know that last night, after a quick update, and shout out to my performing friend, on Twitter and a check in – with the compulsory tagging – on Facebook Places, I was really happy to slip my phone back in my pocket and just pay attention to the show that was happening in front of me.

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