To the Scala last night with my son to see Fountains of Wayne. The gig was excellent, thanks for asking, and included a bizarre but hilarious Seventies Rock medley inserted into one of the songs, and a stupendous lounge version of Stacy’s Mom which allowed them to play their Mega Hit and stay Rock Star cool at the same time.
As at any gig you go to these days there were a bunch of people filming and snapping away on smartphones, which I suppose is fair enough. Personally, I’ve always found it pretty hard work to stand there taking photos when I could be watching the band. All that reaching up into the air, or pointing round someone’s head while trying to keep the singer in shot. Too much effort, to be frank.
But I can understand the need to keep a record of the experience; it’s just a 21st century version of writing a diary. But what I cannot understand was the behaviour of the very tall, excitable guy in front of me who didn’t take a single picture of the band but took dozens and dozens of himself, with the stage in the background. He managed to alienate an entire section of the audience with his contortions, holding his arm out in front of him and gurning into the camera. I presume these photos were primarily for the benefit of Social Networks: “Look, here’s me, having an Experience!”
But even he was trumped when, a quarter of the way in, the band invited three people onstage to help them with percussion on Hey Julie. Three young men clambered over the barrier and were given maracas to shake, and as the song started one of them pulled out a phone, looked down and started sharing the experience. I don’t know if he was texting or Tweeting or something else, but he was certainly not in the moment. No, he was performing, for his own electronic circle, while standing onstage having what would for many people be a sublime moment. He was so busy telling people about the Experience that the Experience itself became secondary.
The bassist commented at the end of the song how nonchalant this behaviour was, but it wasn’t nonchalant at all. It was excitable and intense. I’m on stage with Fountains of Wayne, he yelled to the world, while ignoring Fountains of Wayne and forgetting to play percussion.
Extraordinary, this need to self-realise at every moment, to broadcast one’s presence. It’s like a reverse Buddhism. Instead of being In the Moment, we place ourselves outside it, with a camera and a megaphone, and describe to the world what we see. Talk about your Existential Crisis.