Watching the world through a screen

cameraMy first festival of 2014 gave me a good opportunity to ease myself in to a summer of raving in the sunshine. A non-camping festival, We Are FSTVL gave a perfect chance to have a couple of days in the sun (and a bit of rain) dancing with good friends to amazing music. While I was there I was lucky enough to see the likes of Annie Mac, Knife Party and Fatboy Slim giving massive sets on the main stages. It was incredible to finally see three of the top acts I have been dying to see live on a main stage in just one festival and with a huge line-up We Are FSTVL was a surprisingly intimate affair. Despite this, I noticed a continuing theme across the stages and tents, which made me slightly sad. Forget those who are hepped up on pills and the rest, forget those who are too drunk to stand up, forget those who decide to light up flares in the middle of a crowd. At least these guys are living in the moment and are really making the most of the experience. These ones aren’t the ones who bother me.

The ones who really upset me are the ones who are living it through a screen. I might be overreacting slightly, but it actually really offends me to see a crowd full of people who are watching a once-in-a-lifetime set as a DJ they have been wanting to see all their lives closes the main stage, but that they would prefer to watch it through their camera lens. After seeing Fatboy Slim play XOYO in London on the opening night of his Eat Sleep Rave Repeat tour, my mind was blown. I had never expected I would actually get a chance to see him live in my lifetime, let alone playing brand new material. But from then on, the dream grew and I was just desperate to see his set transform from the basement of a tiny, dark club to the main stage at a festival and how lucky I was to find he would be headlining the first festival of my summer! I, and all my friends, were beyond excited to see him play live and we made sure we got up on one of the platforms facing the main stage nice and early so we could get a good spot for Annie Mac as well. We had a perfect view of the whole crowd, the main stage and the sky above it which was filled with fireworks, flames and confetti throughout.10371481_10152067841697617_8181578491216340227_nSo imagine my dismay at seeing the people around us pulling out their camera phones and holding them up for the entire set. Not just up on the platform, but even down in the crowd, there was a sea of phones raised to the sky. What is the point? Can anyone tell me? In the days of Woodstock and early Glasto – when some would argue festivals were at their finest – no-one had camera phones or insisted on Instagramming every moment. Instead they lived every second, they dances to the music, felt it in their bones and spent the time meeting people, making friends and singing along. THIS is what festivals are all about. I know the convenience of camera phones means people want to capture every moment, and I have no problem with that as I too love to take photos of my friends smiling and happy, to keep those memories for long after the hangover had faded.

My problem is that people are choosing to do this rather than live the festival and the music. They would rather watch the whole explosive and incredible set through the phone screen and be sure that it is perfectly framed and looks like you are having an amazing time rather than actually experiencing it themselves. These are the people who don’t end up dancing at the festival, the ones who arrive home looking as perfect as when they set out and care more about the way the festival looks than feels. To me, the most important thing has always been they way I felt in that moment. When you see an incredible headliner take over the main stage after waiting months to see them live, when the stage explodes with confetti and flames, when you are singing along so hard you lose your voice, when you’re dancing so hard you nearly knock out the person next to you, and when you and a complete stranger throw your arms round each other and bellow out the words because you’re both just so excited. THAT is what festivals are about, losing yourself in the moment. They are about getting home and trying to tell people about it, but knowing that words just cannot do that moment justice. That no matter how you try to describe it, that those who weren’t there just won’t understand.1601495_10152067841647617_2257286975690457222_nMy concern is that our technology is so convenient that so many are missing out on this experience. They don’t know the beauty of having a single picture that transports you back to that moment and how you felt, rather than an hour-long video of the set with terrible sound and a jiggly camera focus. Who really wants to sit there watching it back later on? Do you really think your friends will be jealous when they see you spent that hours-long set videoing it rather than enjoying it? I certainly wouldn’t be jealous of that, I would just consider it a wasted ticket. I have lots more festivals in the pipeline for this summer and I just hope I will be seeing a lot less of this and a lot more people living in the moment. Ironically, one of my favourite festivals from last summer was BoomTown fair which was all about the experience and I barely have any pictures from it because I was so caught up in the moment and thoroughly enjoyed myself. (See my preview for BoomTown here.)

What kind of festival-goer are you – guilty of living behind a lens or totally in the moment and forgetting you have a camera?

6 responses to “Watching the world through a screen

  1. I think this is definitely the case now with everything – not just festivals and gigs. Everyone wants to try an capture everything on camera and in the process forget to experience what’s going on for themselves and I’m absolutely guilty of this too.

    Whenever I go somewhere new, I get so camera happy. It goes everywhere with me and although I love looking back at old photos of holidays, it does make me wonder sometimes whether I’m actually enjoying it or whether I just want to take a photo. If you get what I mean.

    I’ve been to loads of gigs but I don’t think I’ve ever filmed an entire set before – that’s just crazy, don’t these peoples arms ache after a while?! Haha. I’ve filmed whole songs before but I don’t watch it through the lense, I’ll just hold my phone up and hope for the best and if it doesn’t come out great, so what. I also used to voice record my favourite live songs instead of filming them – that way I could just hold my phone and get on with my night rather than keep checking whether it’s pointing in the right direction.

    But anyway, yeah, I think everyone is getting more and more reliant on technology to make it seem like you’re having a good time rather than doing just that – having a good time! xx

    • It really is – so sad. Everyone is to busy trying to Instagram the sunset rather than watching it and appreciating its beauty! It’s such a shame, but I guess as bloggers we are always guilty of that because we spend our lives documenting each moment.. But I like to think I draw the line – I would rather have a wonky picture that shows me having a good time than spend ages lining up a shot and annoying my friends. I’ve always been the same – totally camera happy and I’ve always been the one who takes pics of the group on holidays, at festivals or just on a night out -I agree, it is lovely to look back and remember but I like the pics of silly things like all of us doing silly poses or something funny that happened rather than just a view – I like the ones that remind me of moments rather than places.
      Haha I know it was ridiculous – when I was at We Are FSTVL there was a guy filming Fat Boy Slim’s entire 90-minute set – what on earth was he going to do with that after?! Like you say, your arms would seriously ache! I’m always too busy dancing to film – it would be so wobbly haha. You put it so well in that last comment – people really need to start having fun and stop trying to look like they are having fun!! xxx

  2. This makes me sad too. I’ve had a friend make me sit through four recordings of Coldplay’s stadium concert. I often take a disposable camera to festivals, that way I don’t have to worry about it getting broken and I am really conscious not to waste my precious 21 photos. Also they come out looking all cool and vintagey, like it really was Woodstock!

    • Oh god that would drive me crazy! A recording is just pointless to me, you don’t get goosebumps from a recording, you don’t get the atmosphere and you certainly don’t get tears in your eyes or sweat on your face – I would always want to be deep in the crowd 🙂 You can’t get that feeling of being there at that incredible moment through a video tape.. the disposable camera idea is amazing – I love this and I do it too for some festivals. We did it for Boomtown last year and have the mos amazing vintage-looking photos 🙂 so much better than an Instagram filter! Plus, like you say, it makes them so much more precious! xxx

  3. Awesome article Lucy and SO TRUE! I bloody hate this! Put down the freakin phone and just be in the moment.

    I’m not a big gig or festival person but it’s the same at every event – weddings, parties, kids birthdays…People spend so much time tailoring every aspect of their being so that it looks perfect on social media when it’s really not.

    All the good things in life are dirty and messy and should be viewed without a filter in my humble opinion 🙂

    • Thanks Alex 🙂 You put it so well in your last sentence here and I couldn’t agree more! I love the grubbiness of life and my favourite photos have always been the worst ones from nights out that capture the least glamorous moments! Everyone always hates me for taking these but they’re so much more fun 😉 You’re right, it’s just everywhere. I think all this technology we have at our fingertips has taken away the joy of truly living in the moment and capturing it in our minds and hearts rather than a lens.. like you say “Put down the freakin phone and just be in the moment!” I may shout this at the next person I see doing this 😛 xxx

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