A “Hey, Asshole!” Special Report: Is The Concert Ban On Cameras Finally Dead?

Apr 9th, 2007 // 11 Comments

hey_asshole_bu.jpgOver the weekend, one of your Idolators went to a concert at a medium-sized venue in the suburbs; before the opening act, an announcement came over the venue’s sound system reminding the audience that cameras and other digital-recording devices were banned from being used during the show.

Then the house lights went down, the opening act walked onstage, and about 10 flashbulbs went off to commemorate the moment. (The fact that this particular venue was “in the round,” and your correspondent was sitting on one side of the stage, made the flashbulbs a little more noticeable.) The camera-wielding patrons didn’t seem like your typical rule-breaking, boisterous, screw-’em-all concert attendees–instead, they were suburban women, seated but clapping, a few with greying hair, all with digital cameras of various sizes at the ready.

After a brief flashback to the Pokemon-induced seizures of 10 years ago, we wondered if this show was a final, definitive sign of the “no cameras” era at shows ending. We’ve seen our share of cameraphones and digital point-and-shoots at the club shows that we’ve attended, but at this concert, people were whipping out really nice cameras, including a few with film, and doing so from their seats–despite the pre-entry bag check, where the security guard regarded our smartphone with interest, but said nothing about our small camera (which, alas, we did not use).

So we’re in an era now where cameras in venues are “illegal,” but since so many people carry cameras around in the everyday, chucking them pre-show is both inconvenient and extremely inadvisable (we have awful memories of a Morrissey show where all patrons were required to check their cell phones, resulting in a lot of post-show chaos). Obviously, to set up a nice photo rig that’ll inconvenience other patrons should still require a pass–but has technology made the idea of people not bringing cameras into shows at all obsolete? (And if we’re going to enter an era where cameras are okay at shows, can we at least encourage people to not use the flash when they’re taking pictures? Because it seriously felt like there were strobe lights coming from the seats at certain points.)

R. Kelly – Red Carpet (Pause, Flash) [MP3, link expired]
Earlier: The “Hey, Asshole!” archives


  1. Wicked Zoot

    Theater in the round? Hmmm… I notice the name of the act is conspicuously absent from this post… not hip enough for the I-doh crew?

  2. JDel

    Definitely Westbury Music Fair, or as they now call it, North Fork Theatre at Westbury Music Fair. Taylor Hicks played there on Saturday. What twinkletwats.

  3. Maura Johnston

    i thought that naming the act would take away from the point of the piece. but yes, that’s who it was.

    “twinkletwats” is an excellent term, although i’m not sure if you’re referring to me as one or what?

  4. Vince Neilstein

    It does seem to reason that the era of no cameras at concerts is over. This is a good thing… the last thing we need is another riot, ala Axl Rose in St. Louis 1992.

  5. Ned Raggett

    These days Axl would probably be happy if someone wanted to take a photo of him at any time.

  6. chrisb

    The “anything but pro” policy is the norm down here in Phoenix too.

  7. mattrant

    In Philly, the Live Nation venues seem to have adopted the “anything but pro” camera policy. I saw Kaiser Chiefs/Walkmen at Electric Factory on Friday night, and the security guy only cared if a lens could be removed.

    The flash thing is annoying. Even a semi-decent point and shoot can take an ok picture with no flash at a show. Plus, flash make everything look like a washed-out clusterfuck anyway.

  8. Juancho

    Good to know. In Cleveland, local indie venues (no matter how big an act) are pretty good about letting in cameras, and depending on the artist, even let you tape. Our HOB will let you in with p/s digital, I have yet to try to get in with a film camera or something bigger.

    Here’s a tip: If you’re maximum lens aperture is 2.0 or under, you should be fine shooting in low light without a flash.

  9. Hyman Decent

    Let your freak flag fly, Maura!

  10. GA Hill

    The Roots actually sell desposible cameras at their shows…

  11. amanda hargrove

    yeah but that was back in 2007 can you bring a tablet in and take still pix or record in the westbury music fair?

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