Last night I went to see a band called Lifehouse at Shepherd's Bush Empire. A good gig in a great venue.
Maybe it's the ornate theatre-esque interior - or my dad reminding me he saw T-Rex play there over 30-years ago - that I feel like a tangible part of history whenever I've been there. I can't help be a little jealous of past generations who were lucky enough to see such iconic bands as T-Rex, The Stones and The Who in a such an intimate environment, where if Roger Daltrey had swung his microphone around you would've likely had to duck to avoid having your head taken clean off.
I can see the photographs in my head of numerous singers leaning over a sweating mass of bodies all staring in up in awe and wonder at seeing their idols at such close quarters. I can't help but think though that if these scenes were recreated today they would look very different. Instead, the hands reaching out wouldn't be trying to catch a long-remembered fleeting touch - they'd be holding a phone, or a camera. They wouldn't be staring in wonder trying to burn the image indelibly into their memories - they'd be looking not at the stage but at their phones. At one stage last night I could only see the stage on the six camera screens being held up directly in front of me by people recording the song, and they were just the tip of the iceberg.
This seems inherently sad to me. People seem more concerned with making sure they have that video clip to upload to YouTube, or picture to post on Flicker, than I they are with actually enjoying the experience while they are there. From where I was it seemed that some people watched the whole gig through a viewfinder. I can only imagine how it feels for performers now, when they are confronted not with people jumping around enjoying a song, but a sea of phones all pointed their way. Could it be that mobile technology, and social networking, are slowly turning us into people who are thinking more of how to record our lives for others to view afterwards than about living them ourselves?
From now on maybe nothing will happen until it's happened.