About a month back I took a trip to Portland with my brother and his wife. After a week of hiking and visiting breweries, I decided I needed to take in the local music scene, and fortunately, none other than Beirut were in town performing at the legendary Crystal Ballroom (supposedly this is the venue where Little Richard fired Jimi Hendrix). The show was as spectacular as you’d imagine, although the fact that the over 21 crowd was barricaded about 20 feet away from the stage so that the teeny-boppers could be up front annoyed me. I suppose I could have set down my beer and joined them, but what’s the fun in that?
At the show I realized I’d forgotten my Flip-Cam, which isn’t a big deal although I do enjoy posting show clips on here. I figured someone else had to be capturing the performance and that I’d just post their clip. Wrong. A month later, a YouTube search for the show (that was sold-out) results in a list of a dozen videos, most of which are 45 second clips.
This leads to so many questions: why did they only film for 45 seconds? Or if they are fans of 45 second excerpts, why did they choose to post it online? Is there a big following for 45 second clips of performances? Is this the new hipster trend? It also made me think about video taping etiquette. Someone needs to set down the ground rules since ever person now has a camera of some sort in their phone. Here are just a few rules I came up with.
1. Don’t ever raise your camera above your head
No one wants to see your video footage live; they want to see the band live. So quit obstructing my view you hipster douche! When I record a band, which is always self-consciously, I try to keep my camera close to my body/face so as not disturb those around me with the glare of the video screen. I’m blessed to be a taller gentleman, but I don’t know why anyone can’t simply keep their camera down while still capturing the show.
2. If you post a song online, it better be the entire song (or be a clip of the singer punching women in the crowd)
This goes back to the sea of 45 second clips for the Beirut show which floors me. And even if you are filming for your own viewing, what joy do you get out of a 45 second clip? It boggles the mind. I imagine them sitting at home, showing friends, “Look! This the first 45 seconds of Beirut performing that one prostitute song!'”
I stand corrected; it’s 52 seconds:
3. Don’t film if your camera came out before 2007
A week after my trip to Portland I bought a flip phone that has to be over 10 years old (I went through four phones this summer, an entirely different story). It has a camera, but photos turn out like pixel images from a Nintendo game. I’ve seen video footage from phones like mine, and I don’t get what the videographer is trying to accomplish. Do they think they will later enjoy the garbled quality? Or is it just a way of showing off to their friends that they did indeed get to see Def Leppard in person?
This video should be called “Pour Some Acid On Me”:
4. If you have to video tape the big screen to actually see the performer, you’re probably too far away
I don’t get what people enjoy about watching a concert in the upper deck (or lower deck for that matter) at an arena, yet the majority of Americans who say they love going to concerts are referring to the act of watching a video screen located almost a mile away as you listen to the performer lip sync (if you can’t see their lips, are they really lip syncing?). But even worse than enjoying this experience is filming it and posting it on YouTube.
This girl can’t even see the big screens at this Lady GaGa show. For all they know it could be Madonna performing “Express Yourself”:
5. Only film one song
It’s okay to film one song as a keepsake. Filming more than one song makes your video into a movie. Put the camera down and enjoy the show.
6. Quit zooming; you aren’t Coppola
And I will end on a guilty note; I am the KING of zooming. The day after a show I’ll watch my video clip only to find that I’ve zoomed in and out throughout a song, making the video more about me being a drunken cameraman and less about the band actually doing the performance. Despite this mistake, I continue to make it. No matter how much you want to add your Spielberg touch to the show, resist the voices in your head and just hold the cam steady. Let the band do the work.
Here’s one of my biggest zoom-fests offenses: