James Hetfield: I Think Phones Ruin the Live-Show Experience, But I Don't Support Banning Them

Enjoy the show however you want, Metallica frontman says.

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James Hetfield: I Think Phones Ruin the Live-Show Experience, But I Don't Support Banning Them
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Metallica frontman James Hetfield shared his thoughts on fans filming shows with phones, saying that while he's against it, he simply can't support banning the crowd from enjoying the show like that if that's how they want it.

He said on the Nerdist Podcast: "It is somewhat frustrating when you look out and you're [into it] and everyone's got their screens [up]. It's kind of robotic-army looking; everyone's looking through their screens at you. It's really bad when someone's got an iPad. [Chuckles]

"But what are you gonna do? We can't enforce anything - 'Don't bring your this and that.' You come to the concert, you're gonna celebrate it however you want. If you wanna remember you in that moment, that's great. You singing - better than me - into your phone, [laughs] and playing it later to someone who doesn't give a shit. [Chuckles]

"Or there's 500 YouTube things from the same angle. We got no control over that. You enjoy it how you wanna enjoy it. I just wonder if later on you'll be thinking, 'Damn! I have it memorized here, but I didn't feel it!' So it's up to them..."

48 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    stevenjmal
    Papa Het has the most logical and level-headed response to this practice that I've ever heard. Thank fuck for James Hetfield.
    beggar__
    What pisses me off is that people don't realize that listening, singing, dancing and headbanging is THE way to enjoy music. Not fucking staring at a screen. They're missing so much. I hate phones.
    matteo cubano
    sometimes i wish i had more videos of the shows ive gone to to remember them but whenever im at a show my mind is no fucking into it that i never consider taking my phone out, all the dopamine and endorphins and body movement, its the best drug in the world for me
    lyytheprozai
    phones blocks the view of others and others have to pay special attention not to knock into them while moshing, sure you can enjoy the show the way you want to, provided you don't screw up other peoples' concert experiences.
    ryanbwags
    If someone wants to film the show, it's not your job to make sure you don't bump into them if you're moshing or moving around. That's not your problem.
    stixhogan
    I disagree with you here. They don't prevent anyone from enjoying the show if you want to watch the show watch the show. If the screen is in your face move your face 2 inches and you can see. If you're afraid of hurting their phones while you're moshing, then you're moshing wrong and shouldn't do it. If they get their phones knocked out of their hands it's their problem for having it out.
    Skuzzmo
    Not really a phone issue.... Just being taller than the person behind can screw up their concert. experience.
    SFosterS
    Your height is out of your control... using a phone is not.
    Skuzzmo
    How a bout getting pissed before a concert and not being able to stand up properly..... or going repeatedly to the bar and having to push past people to get there.....or crowd surfing and getting pulled out by security so you've got to run to the back and push your way to the front again.....or you've bought one too many tee shirts at the merch stand and you need to hold them all night..... The point I'm making is that people using their phones is one of a thousand things that could shit on your concert experience. Why stress about it? Just deal with it like you do all the other crap that crops up at a gig.
    Shredder666
    I don't think phones should be banned, but I think people are pretty shitty for bringing them into shows. After filming songs here and there for shows a bit in the past, I realize I don't even watch those videos. It was the live experience that has value to me, not the shitty video. It was sad, there was an outdoor hockey game in my hometown in October and Sum 41 played. I went with my buddy who was literally Snapchatting the whole show. I turned to him and said, "Instead of snapping it, why don't you live it?"
    PRSguitars87
    I never got why people record with phones. Your never gonna watch that shit and if you do the sound quality is total dogshit
    finallife6
    Especially recording a band who already releases soundboards of all of their shows as well, ugh
    samtberg
    I preferred the Joe Rogan podcast where he talked about bees for 30 minutes.
    lukep1308
    I would understand people recording concerts if they actually viewed it later and it was a high quality recording. However most of the time its not, and not even looked at ever again. So why do it? The only conclusion I can come to is that it feeds their ego when they put it onto social media. "Look at me I'm at a Metallica gig and you're not" kinda thing. Bums me out that people care more about what people think of them (who probably don't even care about you anyway) than actually enjoying themselves and living "in the moment".
    Maybrick
    I understand people bringing a phone to a gig but why on earth would you bring an iPad?! They're so damn bulky.
    Dynamight
    What's the use of purchasing overpriced garbage if you can't bring it with you everywhere?
    blooddrunk
    Its simple - if you see someone taking a video near you you start a pit. Fuck them and their phone. A few pics is fine but autismos taking a wobbly shit quality video for l33tdudehaX0R69 on youtube is not.
    wookiegr
    The last several shows I had to put up with fuckwads holding their phones up blocking my view. It's more about not ruining the show for the people behind you than it is you being a moron too busy recording it than actually being there. These millennials would have had their asses kicked back in the 80's when mosh pits were real and you had to to call off work or school the next day waiting for the bruising and swelling to pass.
    Stojan75
    Even worse; people filming shows in vertical mode and then uploading it on Youtube. Do you watch your TV in vertical mode? No, don't think so ...
    vikingman369
    so when i saw Metallica in '09, i only recorded one song, and it was on a little camera and not a phone. same with Black Sabbath '13, just three songs of their set-list. the rest of it was part of the "experience", as some of you put it. but my memory isn't what it used to be, so i'm glad i have some piece of that experience with me always. doesn't matter if people like it or not
    Mr Winters
    The man gets it. Don't like phones in your show? That's too bad, but you have no right to take them away from people or break them or whatever bands do with people's phones these days. I do agree that paying more attention to your phone than to the band is shitty and stupid, but if that's what someone likes to do at a show leave them fucking be.
    Cazman
    I don't think people stare at their screen the whole time while recording, they just need to hold the phone up.
    Northernmight
    Wellerh. I think the problem with banning phones would be that you COULD get an emergency phonecall, that'd actually be important. On the other hand, fuck me, i wish they would ban them. I might be biased, i have never bought or owned a smartphone, and i really don't want to. I heavily dislike that whole ALWAYS CONNECTED bullshit, but i really do think they ruin the live experience for both the performers and the people around them.
    LadyAnarchy
    honestly, when I go to live shows, I will maybe take a photo or two before the actual show, and in some cases, set my phone to record in my pocket (done that once with a band who only ever plays unreleased songs at their gigs) but other than that, I prefer to just live the moment. because I may not get to experience that ever again, and what use is the video footage anyway? this is a good position on the matter. Het gets it.
    mobidguitar
    Everybody has to show their facebook friends how cool they were that night. Even if they've never heard of metallica before. At least they will be perceived as something of a music fan. At least in the 90s with digital cameras, they either took them away at the door, or you shut your fucking flash off and took a couple photos (COUPLE!). Just wait for it, there will be no more concerts at some point. People are fucking ignorant when it comes to abuse of technology.
    MikeBTE
    Recording it on your phone doesn't do the live show justice and distorts your memory of actually how good the show was. I'm in it for the moment. No recordings or pictures needed.
    SlightlyFuzz
    I only take photos with my phone in between song changes (even better to take photos then since the lights aren't flashing and throwing the focus off) or when the band comes out at the end and does their "thank you bow". I dislike it when people take videos during the songs and block my view, but, I really enjoy watching those videos on Youtube (especially for bands with few pro-shot videos) so I really don't know how to feel about it.
    Torico
    When the band puts out a live vid on Youtube; I don't feel so jealous about not being there, since the crowd also watched it through a small screen.
    bonekrusha27
    I can see taking a few pictures. Nobody wants to see your shitty phone video or a slideshow.
    JohnnyFreeze92
    Cell phones can serve a good purpose, emergencies ect. but they're relied on so much people can't live without them, I gave up on mine when I turned 20, it's like, people give me crap and say I 'need' one, I was like, people survived how many thousands of years without them? You want to get a hold of me? Call my land line, leave a message after the beep.
    Moltres Avianos
    I find the amount of phones in the audience depends on who you're watching and the demographic of those watching. I went to see All Time Low twice with my partner and it was a sea of LCD screens. Went to see Barenaked Ladies, Paul Gilbert, Joe Bonamassa and a phone would occasionally pop up for a quick burst shot but it would go down again.
    DOZO
    Ok so don't ban them...just play a few shows with absolutely no lights (maybe a couple personal ones so they don't trip and so they can see what they're playing) and see what happens with the audience