What would a concert be without an Instagram post? What’s the point of even going to a festival if I’m not going to get the perfect Instagram out of it?
Over the past 4 years I have been to dozens of concerts and festivals. I’m ashamed to admit that there are few where I have actually experienced the beauty of the music that I went to hear. Like many in my generation, I spent so much time searching for the perfect moment to document the experience, so that I could later post it on any (and all) of my social media platforms. The most memorable phoneless experience occurred due to the Great Coachella iPhone Disaster of 2013, when I somehow managed to run my phone over with my car. This left me with no phone for 3 whole days…and it helped me realized that my desire for the perfect Coachella Instagram post was impeding upon what really mattered: the music.
1. No one really cares what you are doing.
Everyone who really cares what you are doing already knows where you are. Your mom, your friends, your boyfriend—anyone who really matters to you is either with you at the event or is aware of your whereabouts. This was one of the major realizations that I had during my phoneless Coachella. I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t have posted multiple Instagrams if I would have had the chance, but I didn’t. When I got home I had multiple friends say, “All of those Coachella Instagram posts were too much. Oh, you’re at Coachella? You and 50,000 other people. No one cares what you’re doing.” At that point I was thankful that I hadn’t overloaded anyone’s newsfeed with cliche photos of me and my friends. They don’t matter. Reaching 100 likes on a selfie that you posted while at the Tame Impala set isn’t going to make your experience any more worthwhile. You came for the music, so try to experience it.
2. Constantly holding your phone really limits your movement.
I don’t know about you, but my phone is constantly in my hand. It’s like an extra appendage. I never really noticed how much this habit actually limited my movement. Without my phone in my hand at all times I was actually able to dance. I’m not talking about “hands in the air, one hand clenched around your phone” dancing. I’m talking about “uninhibited, limbs flailing everywhere” dancing. It may not be pretty, but it’s a whole lot more fun and freeing than worrying about an iPhone. It all seems trivial, but this lack of concern for my phone was liberating and made all the difference.
3. You spend so much time worrying about where your phone is that you will miss amazing things.
I have been to a total of 3 Coachella’s and at every one I have followed the crowd because I wasn’t willing to miss out. I didn’t want to be the only one who missed a photo opportunity of myself during a headliner performance or the chance to post a SnapChat video to My Story. My 3rd year at Coachella, I didn’t have any way to capture any of my experiences to post a Coachella Instagram, so I started roaming on my own. Rather than battle the large crowds at Main Stage with Vampire Weekend, I ventured into a tent with a much smaller crowd to watch Father John Misty perform. I was a huge Fleet Foxes fan, but had never taken the time to listen to Father John Misty. He turned out to be a total freak, singing about his drug use and gyrating his hips while insulting the crowd. It was one of the most unique performances I had ever seen, and, coincidentally, I fell in love with his music. Because I was straying from the crowd I was able to watch the entire performance from the front row and even had a conversation with him after his set. I didn’t feel the need to capture every moment and broadcast it to the world so I was able to experience something new and different.
4. The concert looks a whole lot better through your eyes than it does through the screen of your iPhone.
How many times have you found yourself watching entire songs through the screen of your iPhone because you wanted to be able to watch the video later? I am a repeat offender when it comes to this habit. Coachella 2013 made me realize just how misguided this sentiment is. The song that you love so much that you want to be able to watch it over and over again is a million times more moving if you put your phone away and just experience it. The memory that you have of that performance will last a lot longer and be a whole lot more vivid than any video that you could have taken.
Before Coachella 2013, I considered myself to be a dedicated music lover. This whole experience made me realize that my love of music at that time was simply surface level. I didn’t realize what it was to truly experience the beauty of music.
So put down those phones, people. There’s a wide world out there that you are missing behind the lense of your smartphone camera.
(Unless, that is, you’re this guy: Coachella 2014: Photos and Review)