Add one more name to that tepid piss bottle of musicians who interrupt their shows to bleat about people texting from the stage. First, let’s all acknowledge that it must be a massive fucking drag to be up there on stage, with usually less than two hours to run through a set of songs while maintaining focus, high energy and in the case of the people behind instruments, phenomenal speed and dexterity, while some slack-jawed rube is sitting there in plain view, punching away at his or her phone during the entire show.
Who cares? Disturbed’s David Draiman, that’s who! Playing a House of Blues gig in Dallas on Wednesday, he stopped to take on a girl who committed this unspeakably heinous offense:
“Oh, up in the balcony, what am I gonna do with you? Especially this one. Yeah, you, the brunette. Yeah. Hi, how are you? So what is so important going on in the world that you need to be texting the entire fucking show? The whole show! You’re right up front; I can see you clear as day. You’ve had your face in your fucking phone the whole goddamn show. Are we that boring?”
Well, yes! The very definition of boring is failing to inspire interest or enthusiasm in a person. At the very least, that girl found whatever Disturbed were doing to be appreciably less interesting than what was on her phone.
In the video, Draiman continues feeding the problem. “Don’t tell me to go fuck myself; you already did by looking in your phone instead of paying attention.
“I’m not wrong. Am I wrong? If you were up here and I did that to you, how would you feel? Seriously! It’s fucking rude. It is!
“If you don’t wanna watch, don’t watch, but don’t stand there in front of the fucking stage in the front row of the balcony where everybody can see you texting the whole fucking time on your phone.”
The singer then added: “I’ll tell you what. Can I at least have your word that I will have your attention for the rest of whatever’s left of the set?
“Now she’s all pissed off. She thinks that I did something wrong to her. I love it.
“Welcome to the age of the Internet, ladies and fucking gentlemen.”
How about, “Welcome to show business, Dave.”
It’s hard to disagree with much of what Draiman says and I’d be a bald-faced liar if I pretended that such conduct wouldn’t drive me absolutely cat-shit bonkers. To Dave’s credit, while he clearly wants to douse her in a vitriolic cascade of public embarrassment for making him feel that way, he quite obviously doesn’t want to sound like a dick, either. While singling out the one audience member not paying attention to him embodies the most basic notion of “petty,” you’ve gotta give Draiman credit for at least trying to play nice towards the end. Ultimately however, he interrupted a show where thousands of people were paying attention to him to focus on the one who wasn’t.
I saw Eddie Vedder pull that same tired rockstar bullshit a few years back. He stopped a solo show to berate some guy in the front that he caught texting. The dude’s wife could have been pregnant, or he could have been texting his brother in Iraq, saying “Dude, this is the best show ever!” Eddie didn’t care. Like Draiman, he cast aside a house full of people who were paying attention to publicly shame some poor bastard who committed the mortal sin of not silently fawning over him for every single second of the show. It ruined the rest of the show for me, just knowing that I had paid good money to watch some unbalanced egomaniac get his rocks off by punishing some guy who dared not adore Eddie Vedder in the way he deemed proper.
While the sight of people texting during a show must understandably burn like acid on the back of the esophagus for any hard-working musician, in this age, the glow of mobile phones throughout the crowd is as part of the concert experience as merch and mixing boards. It’s not unreasonable to expect a professional entertainer to be able to carry on a live performance in the face of distractions — good ones have been doing it for centuries. These phone-brandishing yokels might not dig your music, but for one reason or another, they drove across town and paid their hard-earned money to walk through the door and if they want to spend the next two hours playing Words With Friends in the front row, it’s entirely their right. And yes, it’s also the musician’s right to stop the show in order to waste precious stage time to call them out for it if he or she so pleases but ultimately, the musician looks small and insecure, the audience member looks like a jackass and the people who were enjoying the show end up paying the price.