Bob Dylan returns to Magdeburg in the fall. And then the old man banned smartphones at his concert. It’s almost like at school, one or the other may think, because theoretically it is prohibited there, but in practice the ban is difficult to enforce. But school is also compulsory and concerts are voluntary. Where Dylan is actually almost mandatory. First to ask yourself why he returns to Magdeburg after such a short time, which clearly shows that he appreciates the city more than some residents. And it will definitely be a selling concert despite the ban.
Actually, that’s a problem now, because mid-size concerts in medium-sized venues are selling very poorly at the moment. “The Jeremy Days”, a not-so-unknown German band centered around Dirk Darmstädter, just canceled an entire German tour because the earlier bookings were really bad. And not only them. It has something of a Long Covid for events to it, so Corona’s aftermath is not over yet. And there is no guarantee they will ever be. Incidentally, there is a shortage of skilled workers in the concert industry, so many stage builders, lighting and sound technicians have retrained, and the next generation is looking for crisis-proof jobs. Some ticket buyers who have a lot of back home concert tickets that have been postponed several times wait shortly before the deadline to buy new tickets. If the organizer then cancels in the long run because the sale is not going well, the customer sees that it is confirmed. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to break. Besides, no one knows what the recipes will really look like in the fall.
And finally people got used to the possible availability of concerts on the stream. Hardly anyone buys CDs and only a few LPs, but everything is available on Spotify at an absurd price that no musician can live for. In addition, those who go to concerts enjoy the live experience differently than a few years ago. Because apart from the food that you absolutely have to share on social media, more or less appetizingly photographed, holidays and new acquisitions, you also like sharing your impressions from the concert. Moving images, taken with a smartphone, are intended to give friends and acquaintances an idea of this, also via live broadcast. The result is usually the eternally the same fragility of average videographers who are unable to adequately capture the true splendor of such an event, but instead produce the same salad of images forever, so busy with the endless reproduction of what is interchangeable. pictorial material that the real essence is completely lost. And as more and more people consider it perfectly normal to disseminate the resulting moving images on the Internet without the permission and participation of cultural workers on the stage, these actually special events become interchangeable, meaning that the special feature is no greater than that which can be recognize. The cool thing about a concert like this is that you enter into dialogue with the musicians, an exchange that creates a unique situation that ultimately can only be remembered in your own head, unless an official concert video is being shot. And even then, you are only part of the audience, that is, masses of people who breathe together for a short while. Because that’s what happens at an event like this live. And this “spirit” of the concert can only be felt if you want to fully engage in it. This may sound a little esoteric, but I can’t put it better. The stage is a “sacred space”, something that fewer and fewer people want to understand because it requires rules that they often only found breaking them. Breaking the rules is definitely a good thing, but it only works if you first acknowledge the rule itself. But it happens less and less. And this robs viewers of a unique, one-of-a-kind event. Because the way they record it is no longer a spectator but part of the working team. You can’t just enjoy without the load, but select the image section to portray the event appropriately. They censor themselves and deny themselves the possibility of pure, unfettered pleasure. The event becomes interchangeable, the space loses its sanctity, and the cultural workers are reduced to a partial aspect of their work. Distancing oneself from the role of the audience as the soundboard for a cultural act cuts out key parts of the experience. What remains is ultimately not enough. And from the stage one does not look in the eyes and faces, but into technical prostheses, from a cold distance that threatens to suffocate every creative act. You finally come home with an empty head and heart and a full smartphone. It would be better the other way around. A genius like Dylan, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, knows this and tries to prevent it. But maybe it’s too late for that. Maybe it’s too late for art. Or not. So come to the concerts and leave your recording devices at home. You will have a completely different experience that will make a bigger impression on you.