Tag Archives: Bjork

Commentary on Camera Policies at Concerts

Here’s and interesting article I got from the NIN twitter feed.

nineinchnails RT @rob_sheridan: CNET has a nice article up about open camera policies at concerts, with some comments from me: http://bit.ly/1HVAlO

I’ve been to NIN and Gwen Stefani concerts with the everything goes camera policies and to a Bjork concert where I was trampled by a large security guard on her way to kick a fan out of the concert for having a camera phone out of his pocket.   When the camera policy is loose, the audience is more engaged and, in general,  having more fun as they make memories and share their experience with the world in real time.  With respect to the Bjork concert, I really didn’t appreciate being trampled and I would have liked to, at least, have taken a picture of myself and my husband at the event to mark the occasion.

To be honest, whenever I see an artist demand a no camera policy, my gut tells me it’s because the artist knows the show isn’t that good and doesn’t want footage leaked that will discourage potential customers.  Any reasonable person knows, regardless of the image and sound quality, NOTHING beats the experience of actually being at the concert.   I applaud those artists that understand their audience and understand cameras are for admiration, adoration, and commemoration and not piracy.  Not only that, with some clever marketing, fan generated media can be made into some nice personalized merchandise for the artist to sell back to the fan.  Example:  HP and Gwen Stefani collaborated with fans to make personalized concert books.  It was a win-win-win solution!

Bjork Concert in Las Vegas

It was an early Christmas for me —  Bjork in Las Vegas and on a Saturday!  The Bjork concert itself was excellent.  I can’t say that for the opening act, L.E.T, a trio consisting of one keyboardist, one guitarist, and a guy that switched between playing guitar and banging on a drum. This trio played slide-guitar-techno at a volume that could easily rival a jet plane.  The first two songs were interestingly novel (when heard though finger stuffed ears), but then the next 7 or 8 songs they played sounded all the same and didn’t match the enthusiasm of the trio as they played their mellow tunes.  The keyboardist was doing weird back bending and legging twisting contortions while banging his head to a beat apparently he was only hearing, the slide guitarist was bending over backwards most of the time with his head in some smoke that would intermittedly shoot onto the stage and the other guitarist/percussionist — well, I didn’t take too much note of because I was fascinated by the keyboardist.  My husband, at times couldn’t decide whether to giggle or be outraged.   The third song they played came mighty close to hitting the “brown note” — we’d wondered if we’d make it through the experience.

After L.E.T. finished rocking my insides, the stage hands came out and spent about 30-mins rearranging the stage for Bjork against a background of some of the strangest Japanese/swing/folkish music I’ve heard in a while.  The stage hands brought out a bunch of flags, removed the video screen L.E.T. used, and brought in some thing that looked like an electric witch’s cauldron .  Hmm… what could this be about Steve and I wondered (it was used for produce some screeching sound effects).  And then the lights dimmed and a 9-pieces brass band oomp-pahed their way across the stage signifying the start of the concert.  I lost count of how many songs Bjork performed.  The concert lasted for ~1-hr, 45-mins and she performed songs from all of her solo albums, alternating between some powerful singing and her weird friend-of-the-forest dancing.  She looked like a beat-possessed fairy spraying confetti and silly string across the stage — I love Bjork.

Onto Bjork fans — in short they are geeks — glasses wearing, boot wearing geeks.  I had my boots on earlier in the day, but foot swelling prevented me from making it through the day with them.  My husband looked at these fans in horror and then laughed intensely as he realized that he had married one of these boot wearing geeks.  Within the concert, 3 types of fans appeared: those like me, who enjoy Bjork quietly — we were a minority, those who like to rave, and those who think that Bjork is somehow linked to them and calls out to them.  Some of THOSE fans had trouble keeping their clothes on and had security on alert as they approached the stage reaching out to Bjork as she sang the closing refrain of “Pagan Poetry.”  Either way, by the end, the ravers and lunatics were stirred into a frenzy by a rendition of “Hyperballad” that gave way to raviness at the end and melted into the charged “Pluto” and then were whipped into a frenzy, again, by the encore, “Declare Independence”  during which Bjork shrieked “raise your flag” followed by the audience chanting back “higher and higher.”  My poor conservative husband was frightened by the raw emotion that had been unleashed.

All was great and wonderful, except for theater security that intruded upon the fans, kicking some of them out for taking pictures or recording video.  (One of the security people stepped on my feet and elbowed me in the face as she left the aisle after booting a fan from the show.  I was so mad!)  After experiencing the fun photography brings to the concert experience at the Gwen Stefani concert, I felt that limiting fans this way was wrong.  The concert experience belongs to the fans and the performers and not the promoter.  Letting fans document the experience empowers the them.  After thinking about it, I can’t think of any reason to restrict photography.  Well, hopefully, in the future, the power of fan photography at concerts will be realized.