Wow. Call me prescient. Nine days ago I write about the cons of social media and the next day Daniel Carlson does the same regarding live-tweeting specifically (I posted a follow-up here just two days ago.) And just last evening I came across this live-tweet gem via Andrew Sullivan‘s The Daily Dish (my single favorite blog). Yes, that’s right: The National Zoo decided to live-tweet the artificial insemination of a panda. Perhaps this is an instance of live-tweeting jumping the shark. Or panda. Or some other large animal. Regardless, I hope this serves as lesson in what not to do with one’s social media…
I intended to rail against live-tweeting in last week’s article, but by the time I remembered to do so I was ready to be done with that particular entry. Although Daniel Carlson’s article centers around television, his complaints apply universally. A common, though perhaps less ubiquitous, phenomenon in music is the live-tweeting of setlists. While this occurs mostly with pop music, other styles aren’t exempt. NPR Music’s classical and jazz branches occasionally live-tweet setlists (or, rather, “programs”) from The Village Vanguard or Carnegie Hall. I just don’t get it. Are there folks sitting at home with the entire Chopin catalogue on standby, listening to whatever nocturnes and polonaise is tweeted next? (And to the many sources that live-tweeted Bruce Springsteen’s SXSW keynote address as he gave it: don’t do that again. Just publish a transcript afterwards.)
The closest I get to this as a consumer is my checking DMB’s setlist each night of a tour. Full disclosure: I’ve been doing this since 2000, and both the band and unofficial site provide real-time setlists online. But I don’t need the songs as they happen.
Once, unfortunately, I was on an end similar to the dreaded live-tweeter. At the 06.13.09 DMB show at Saratoga, NY’s SPAC – one of the absolute best DMB shows I’ve attended – I experienced my first “Halloween.” With the exception of 1992-4 and an unexpected run in 2008, this song is one of the band’s white whales (along with “Spoon” – still waiting to see that one live…). I’ve only seen it twice live, and the first didn’t happen until my 39th show. I absolutely LOST IT when they busted it out as a surprise encore. After my screaming and convulsing – dancing is too classy of word for what I was doing – I had to text all my friends who I thought would care. In my excitement and need to spread my joy via phone, I ended up missing a portion of this song I had waited so many years to see. And while I can relive DMB’s performance via audience tape, there’s a chunk of my excitement I cannot relive because I was staring at my phone. While I was never one to really text or anything during a rock concert before that night – I’ve never done the call-and-hoist-the-phone routine, and I never leave my phone on during classical or jazz performances – I’ve all but cut it out of my concert-going experiences since then. I’d rather be in the moment than on the network.
And when I saw “Halloween” again last year at The Gorge I didn’t grab for the phone – I sang and danced with my friends. That memory is much more intact.
“Halloween” @ SPAC 06.13.09
“Halloween” @ The Gorge 09.04.11
You can look for the back of my head in the pit. I was right under the chain of glow sticks, stage right… 🙂