Phones. Phones everywhere. We’ve all experienced it before, and now it just seems like part of the concert experience. It’s not just fellow concert goers that are getting annoyed by it, though, as musicians are also beginning to show their distaste for documenting rather than experiencing. In such a connected and technology dependent world, what can we even do to stop this? One might think nothing, but a company called Yondr are suggesting a solution.
Having already been tested in a couple of Bay-area music venues, Yondr is a case that locks phones away for the sole purpose of a phone free experience. From the Yondr website:
Once [people] enter the phone-free zone, the cases will lock. While all customers will maintain possession of their phones, they are now free to enjoy the experience without distraction.
Referred to as a lightweight smartphone sock-with-lock, Yondr’s website states that its purpose is “to show people how powerful a moment can be when we aren’t focused on documenting or broadcasting it.” The service has been created for venues and artists who wish to create phone-free events, and aims to be the easiest and safest way to do so.
As the website stresses, “all customers will maintain possession of their phones,” but without being able to use them. Hosting a concert without people using their phones is a lofty goal, but it’s also one that a lot more musicians are beginning to desire. Of particular note is Kate Bush, who recently asked those turning up to her comeback concerts to not film her performance. She’s told fans that she wants to “have contact with you as an audience.”
Writing for Ars Technica, Megan Geuss reported that the results at one of the first public trial concerts were rather mixed. She said that a handful of people genuinely enjoyed the idea, while others expressed concerns over using their phones for emergencies, or the possibility of someone taking legal action.
The trial run . Besides the fact it was a bratty pop-punk gig with bands expressing distaste for Yondr rather than appreciation, Megan herself said, “If you’re paying $5 for a concert ticket where ‘assigned seats’ is a cute joke, you probably don’t care if your experience isn’t perfect and transformative.”
Speaking with San Francisco Weekly, Graham Dugoni, the founder of Yondr, said that “if the phone vibrates they can step outside to text or call,” which answers one of the primary concerns about the product. Users will be allowed to unlock their phone as they exit the venue, and once they come back inside the phone will once again be locked. The downside to the product is that if a venue chooses to use Yondr, it won’t be optional for those attending the concert.
Dugoni has spoken to numerous people about it, and has said that if you smuggle your phone into a venue that’s using Yondr, you’ll be kicked out of the venue if you’re spotted using your phone. It seems like a harsh outcome, but considering the whole concept of Yondr, it makes sense. There’s a lot of ways it could backfire, and it’s hard to see if concertgoers will warm to the idea. Yondr can definitely stop people from using their cellphone at a concert, but whether it will take off or not remains to be seen.