Band Of Horses Singer Not Too Thrilled With The Cameraphone Era

Maura / July 19, 2007

phones.jpgA couple of weeks back Band Of Horses played a show in San Diego, and lead singer Ben Bridwell was feeling a bit cranky–so cranky, in fact, that he flipped a fan off while she was trying to get a digital shot of him as they played their single “The Funeral”–which was the first time a huge chunk of the crowd took notice of the show. Naturally, she blogged about it:

So there I am with my tiny Sony digital camera, capturing the song, and suddenly I realize I’m getting flipped off by the singer. While playing the super emotional song, “Funeral”, he flip me off and mid song yells, “I see you recording me.” I look around and at least 5 other people are taping him and he calls me out. Fuck you. I duck out and I am fucking outta there. There’s nothing worse than a fucking whiny baby onstage. It wasn’t bad enough that earlier in the set he complained about the sound and the mix, asking his band, “Should we keep playing?” Now he’s gonna be a whiny bitch about me recording his shit. Fuck him. I was outta there.

Whining about whining–how meta! And she later calls the band “Bandaid of Horseshit,” tee hee. Anyway, today Pitchfork has an interview with Bridwell where he apologizes to the blogger, but also takes time to discuss the incident and the YouTube culture of shows in 2007. (I should probably take a second here to note that I’m not really a fan of Bridwell’s band at all, but I do feel for him on certain points–particularly the ones about more members of the crowd being in attendance to treat shows like photoshoot opportunities, instead of enjoying them in real time/IRL.)

But then you had all these kids up front, that seemed so disinterested in the show and didn’t look up at the stage or anything. They just kind of sat there in front of the stage. Just seemed like they didn’t want to be there at all, until we played “The Funeral”. So all of a sudden you had these people that seemed so disinterested in the show all, somehow at the same time, pull their cameras out of their bags and start filming.

So I’m sitting there– now they’re really interested in this one song– and they still won’t make eye contact, looking through their little lenses, taping this one song for their blogs or for their fucking YouTube [accounts] or whatever, and it was just so annoying. It’s like, this show is already going south, and these people that seem disinterested are only here to further their YouTube accounts or their blogs or whatever, and it just pissed me off.

It was really annoying. It was just scratching at the surface of what’s happening to shows lately. Everybody’s got a camera in their pocket, and they turn it on to just, I don’t know, exploit us in some way or further their own projects or whatever the fuck they’re doing with their websites and shit. It’s become a little bit ridiculous, and it was just a bit unnerving, and [with] the situation with the show and everything, all the stars lined up and I got pissed off….

I don’t know what to say. I admit that I was being a fucking asshole. I feel bad to single her out, but it wasn’t so much her. It was mostly these other people in front of the stage that seemed so disinterested that kind of got the wheels turning, and once they all popped up with the cameras at the same time, I guess that’s where it just exploded.

Pitchfork: Is it like that at most shows you guys have played recently?

BB: It seems to keep happening. You see it getting progressively worse. It’s almost like the skateboarding community, where everyone’s a fucking photographer now. You look at shots, and it’s hard to keep the photographers out of the shot, you know? It kind of seems like the same thing with indie rock; everyone’s got a fucking camera in their hand and, I don’t know, is there no sanctity left for live performance with going to a show and seeing it with your own eyes and remembering it? Do you have to tape every second, or even just your favorite song? I understand it, but it’s becoming annoying.

Truth be told, I’ve probably been guilty of having my eyes on my phone the few times I’ve been at a Band of Horses show–but that behavior’s been saved for the back of the room, because there are few things more annoying than having your already-lousy position in the crowd made even worse by a host of viewfinders being hoisted in front of you. It’s just another aggravating thing about the live-show experience in 2007, up there with expensive, crappy beers and, uh, people talking on their cell phones, and it’s doing the probably undesirable effect of making my nostalgia for “the old days” even more inflamed. Because even though having to check my cell phone at the Morrissey show at the Apollo a couple of years back was excessively annoying (mainly because of the post-show glob of people who were trying to retrieve their phones from the lineless coat check), it was also kind of awesome, if only because I was able to actually watch the show–and, sometimes, have my thoughts drift off into unexpected places–without my ADD acting up and me berating myself for missing a “perfect” moment to shoot.

BoH’s Bridwell Talks YouTubers, New Album, Sex Clubs [Pitchfork]
[Photo: DG Jones]