What do Green Day, Bono, Shakira, Chris Martin and the Stones have in common? They're on fans' friends-and-family plans
Coldplay loves cellphones. And camera phones, too.
Flash. Flash. Flash. Flash. Flash. Flash.
If you took your eyes away from Chris Martin and the gang long enough, that's what it looked like at the concert last Wednesday.
All night, Seattleites felt free to take photos of the fellas. The flashes lit up KeyArena, usually during fast songs. And during the ballads, the audience's phones turned into a dotted sea of blue-lit screens that sometimes held still, and at other times, gently waved back and forth.
It's all part of the latest in a wave of cellphone use at concerts, encouraged by bands themselves. No longer is your phone just an instrument to call up friends and say, "Hey, guess, where I am?" These days, fans wave 'em in the air, send text or pics to screen, text to rally for a cause, take photos, win tickets and more.During the past year or so, cellphones have become a growing part of a concert's entertainment, and that includes a chunk of bands or tours that came through Seattle in 2005. Lots of big names have embraced this form of audience interaction: Green Day, Duran Duran, U2, Coldplay, the Rolling Stones. Elsewhere in the world, cellphones played a part in big-time concerts like Live 8.
You can imagine that cellphone companies have applauded this. Depending on venue, you could get charged up to $3 a pop for texting messages. This doesn't include airtime or what your own service provider might tack on.
Depending on the show, you might be able to text messages to order concert paraphernalia, enter contests or get better seats than you already have.
But the most common form of cellphone use at concerts right now is sending text messages onto a big screen or two. You can propose to your loved one, declare your adoration for a favorite singer or ask the audience on the left side of the arena to "shout."
This integration of cellphones into the concert-going experience crosses all musical genres. You'll find such technology at shows from Gwen Stefani, the Backstreet Boys, Avril Lavigne, the Black Eyed Peas, Reba McEntire, Bon Jovi, Simple Plan, Destiny's Child, John Legend, Fabulous, Ghostface, Hoobastank — and on and on.
And it's also being seen at events such as last year's Lollapaloza, AmsterJam and Austin City Limits music festivals.
Back at KeyArena last week, Chris Martin snapped some shots of the crowd with his own disposable cam, and threw it back into the pit. Then during the encore, he bent down near the front of the audience, snagged a cellphone, then sang portions of a song into it. On his way out, Chris puffed into his own cameraman's camera and smiled.
Going to a concert? Don't forget to bring your most important accessory. One that shines, writes and even snaps a picture. Your cellphone.
October 2004: Green Day's American Idiot — Remember that dull downtime before a band appears? Now concertgoers amuse themselves, texting messages and shooting pics from their cellphones to two giant screens on either side of the stage before Sugarcult, New Found Glory, and, of course, their beloved Green Day rock the house.
February 2005: Duran Duran's Astronaut — Not just lighters anymore. Simon asks fans to pull out their cellphones, too, as the New Wave band struts and sings the ever-popular "Save a Prayer."
March 2005: U2's Vertigo — It's a song, it's a movement, it's One. When "Text your name to UNITE" flashes on the jumbo screen, fans respond. About 10,000 text messages fly through the air each night Bono asks Americans to join him. There were 250,000 by mid-December.
The lucky ones see their names on screen. And everyone who texts in gets this personalized missive: "Hey, this is Bono. Thanks for taking action with the ONE campaign to make AIDS and poverty history." Then what appears on the phone? www.one.org.
June 2005: London's Live 8 — No wonder they set a new Guinness World Record. British fans vying to see stars blast off more than 2 million text messages hoping to win a pair of tix to the Hyde Park show. The luminaries on tap? Paul McCartney, U2, Elton John, Madonna, Sting and a reunited Pink Floyd, the legendary rock band hasn't shared a stage since 1981.
To enter? Text the answer to: What's the city closest to the G8 Summit in July? A. Berlin, B. Moscow or C. Edinburgh.
July 2005: Live 8 — Rock stars hit their notes at 10 Live 8 concerts across the globe. And music lovers dispatch 26.4 million text messages to support the organizers' anti-poverty campaign. Shakira and the Cure play to a crowd of about 100,000 at the Palace of Versailles. In all, more than 1 million attend the shows.
August 2005: Coldplay's Twisted Logic — Look behind the band. During "Low," a countdown runs on the elongated video screen so fans can grab their cellphones, point 'em at the stage, aim and shoot. Later, during the changeover between "Scientist" and the midshow acoustic set, Chris, Guy, Jon and Will snap photos of the crowd with disposable cameras, then toss them into the audience.
August 2005: Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang — Sit with your idols. Ticket holders text-message in to win onstage seats.
August 2005: AmsterJam music festival — About 6,000 fans text "JAM" to the keyword "GREEN." They win stuff like backstage tours, VIP seats and flash memory sticks to download music on-site. Fans await Snoop, who swoops into New York City in a G4 jet, then hops in a limo for Randall's Island.
The messages: "10 minutes to Snoop on the main stage!" or "Snoop is about to take the main stage!" and "Red Hot Chili Peppers are up soon!" They also get a call from Bootsy Collins with a thank-you and a reminder to drive home safely.
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