Dumb Rule: Banning Smartphone Concert Pictures

The Denver nu-folk rockers have a wonderfully quaint thing going on, with everything from the use of old-timey instrumentation to the feeling its show could work just as well in a coffeehouse on Cherokee Street. But dont let that fool you. The Lumineers, a best new artist Grammy nominee earlier this year, is ready for the big time, as the 7,800 fans in the audience would certainly agree. Frontman Wesley Schultz said when he walked into the arena earlier in the day hed hoped itd be at least half full for the concert. The band did that and much more. The band, out promoting its self-titled debut album (recently rereleased in a deluxe version), modestly took to the Chaifetz Arena stage, which was sparingly decorated save for five vintage chandeliers overhead. Schultz tried to set a particular mood early on during the bands popular Ho Hey, requesting fans to put away their cellphone video and to just be there in the moment. (He apparently didnt know that St. Louis concertgoers do as they please, and repeated the request mid-song.) The band, featuring Schultz and his comrades Jeremiah Fraites (drums), Neyla Pekarek (vocals, cello), Stelth Ulvang (piano) and Ben Wahamaki (bass), delivered an illuminating performance that was a 75-minute run-through of its album with rootsy songs boasting homespun lyrics and shifting tempos. Submarines, Flowers in Your Hair, Classy Girl, Dead Sea and Big Parade were among the tunes plucked from the album, often resulting in sing-alongs, clap-alongs and more including the band dividing the audience in half for some call and response on Stubborn Love. Aint Nobodys Problem was one of the bonus tracks on the reissue performed here, and keeping in that spirit of highlighting the bonus tracks, the band also performed worthy new songs Darlene and Elouise in the center of the arena floor. Were used to playing smaller shows. We wanna make this feel like a smaller show, Schultz said. The band was truly up close and personal on Darlene and Elouise, not on a B stage that was nearly as remote as the main stage. Bob Dylans Subterranean Homesick Blues, in twisted form here, proved a fine complement to the bands repertoire. Fans standing on the open floor responded in kind to the Lumineers, throwing glow sticks high into the air with reckless abandon all evening.

When Dylans rep took the stage to asked concertgoers to enjoy an analog experience (i.e., without smartphones), she got a healthy round of boos. And despite security efforts, plenty of people shot videos and pictures during the show. Bottom line: This is a rule that is simply impossible to police. So, maybe there could be some common-sense compromises. Concertgoers could be encouraged to take pictures and videos only during the first song (which is when professional photographers shoot). And encores are already a free-for-all: From my experience, there is no effort to stop fans from rushing the stage and holding up their smartphones when a show is about to end. That leaves most of the concert for old-fashioned, artist-to-audience communication. Electro-junkies, of course, should be courteous to the fans around them: If youre going to tweet (as Im paid to do during concerts), hold the phone low and away so the glare doesnt bother your seatmates. If youre going to take a photo, do it fast and sit down. Overzealous security While artists are setting these rules, promoters and concert venues should be concerned that photo enforcers are unnecessarily antagonizing fans. Its one thing for security officers to keep the rowdies in check; its another for them to ruin your experience by hovering around and giving you the evil glare and threats of ejection (as I got when I admittedly broke the rules at Dylans show and tried three times to take pictures.