The Singaporean Obsession with Filming Concerts
Top image: Marc Clarence

The stage lights dip, the guitar riff starts, and you’re suddenly overcome by the irresistible need to pull your phone out and hit the little red button to record. 

Take a quick glance around at the crowd. You’ll find the same compulsion everywhere: a sea of concert-goers with faces lit up by the soft glow of their screens. 

Tackling those hives of rectangular screens might be synonymous with the concert-going experience now, but that doesn’t mean we’ve all made peace with it. 

Suede’s Brett Anderson hasn’t. Just last week, the singer went viral for snatching phones away from audience members who were filming during his concert.

Is it finally time to embrace the inevitability of concert filming? We speak to Singaporeans on whether they are for or against filming concerts. 

“I think it’s fine to record. After all, they’re important moments that should be remembered. Whether I like it or not is a different discussion though since I don’t like filming myself.

It only bothers me if it hinders me from enjoying my own experience. That’s just plain invasive. Imagine vibing at Frank Ocean’s concerts and you start crying—then some rando puts a camera in your face.”

—Zahra, 17

“It’s understandable that people would want to record performances—we all want to retain memories. Watching people record my performances gives me joy; it’s nice that they enjoyed them enough to want to keep digital copies for themselves. 

It’s nice when they end up posting the videos on social media. It gives us a chance to review our performances. Honestly, I record clips when I attend other gigs, too.”

—Elspeth, 25, lead singer of local band motifs 

“I personally wouldn’t do it, but we should just let people do what they want. After all, they paid good money to be there. If that’s how they choose to experience concerts, then so be it. Who am I to tell them how they should enjoy the experience?

The only time it bothers me is when their phones disrupt my view. Otherwise, I think people should just be left to their own devices.” 

—Hykel, 25

Image: Stephanie Lee / RICE File Photo

“Personally, I hate it when people record during performances. The act of filming in itself feels exclusive to me—as if they are recording so that they can eventually flaunt it on social media. Honestly, no one really cares about your thirty thousand Instagram stories. 

Plus, concerts are such an intimate experience. Imagine being a performer singing your heart out to the audience, and all you see in return are 10,000 phones aimed at you. I mean, there’s a reason why even artists like Beyoncé and Alicia Keys are banning phones at their concerts, right?”

—Marc, 22

“If it’s not obstructing others, sure. If it is, though, absolutely not.

I don’t think it’s right if you ruin others’ comfort for your ‘memories’. Ultimately, they paid the same price to get the same enjoyment, but they’re getting blocked by your inconsiderate ass.”

—Chloe, 17

“I do have mixed feelings about recording. I’m very cognisant of the fact that we paid good money to see people play live, so we should be present and stay in the moment. Once you put the screen up, you distract yourself from truly savouring the performance. 

On the other hand, I still record from time to time because I want to retain memories of the concerts because it’ll be nice to relive the moment later on. I think the best compromise is by recording nothing beyond a couple of 30-second snippets.”

—IIyas, 34

“I’m a sucker for watching recorded performances on YouTube so my personal philosophy is ‘the more, the merrier’.

The more people record the performance, the more I can relax because I don’t have to record anything—I’ll probably be able to find 20 different angles of the concert I was at. The archival work has been done for me.”

—Sabrina, 22

Image: Nicolas LB / Unsplash

“I don’t particularly dislike it. But as a sentimental person, I understand why concert-goers often record chunks of the concert.

I don’t think it ruins the mood at all. It shows that the audience actually likes the performance, and it’s satisfying to see a sea of lights in the crowd.

—Riess, 16

“We’ve only performed in front of friends and family. We don’t mind when people record because we want footage of our performance to assess afterwards. It also reminds us that they’re proud of us! 

We can also publicise those videos; tagging us on social media is good for publicity as budding artists. If people are vibing hard, it doesn’t really matter.” 

—Nepobabies, local band

“Eh, it’s not really nice because it blocks the view for the people behind. It also won’t feel like the audience is present and is enjoying the show properly.

It makes us a little disconnected since we’re so focused on getting a good shot, especially for social media. Zooming in and out, checking the lighting, making sure the angles are right—they definitely make me enjoy the concerts less.”

—Shannen, 17

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