When I attend the April 16th Jack White concert at the (awful) Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University, everyone from social media influencers to the mainstream media will be trying to ascertain if this is the first time that I will be at a "phone free" concert.
Before I tell you whether it is or not, let me explain what a phone free concert is: it's a concert where you are given a phone for free. (With a two-year contract).
OK, not true. That would be a free phone concert, which may happen one day.
Although they are calling it a phone free concert, it's more accurately a camera free concert. The extremely ornery Jack White hates it when people pull out their cell phones and record him playing Seven Nation Army, as he understands that their photos and videos will come out terrible, and afterward the insatiable pull of the little device will trigger them to check their social media accounts and text their friends about where the after party is. In the old days (like, 20 years ago) it wasn't uncommon for wedding reception tables to be peppered with "disposable cameras." These old fashioned (but plastic, so not that old fashioned) devices had something in them called "film," and when you pressed a button a "shutter" would open for a small fraction of a second, resulting in an image being imprinted onto the film. Ancient technology! But in those super old days of 20 years ago, married couples could retrieve these cameras and send them off to a photo lab, where the film would be printed onto special paper, resulting in hilarious pictures of drunken wedding attendees with lampshades on their heads. (Or something like that).
Now of course weddings are documented so thoroughly with smartphone cameras that every inadvertent belch and tipsy off-color joke is sitting up there in the cloud for Vladmir Putin to retrieve and use to blackmail people who have claimed in their political ads to be belch-free their whole lives.
Where am I going with this? No idea.
Oh, wait, I know: I'm going to a rock concert where the most cantankerous musician since Joe Jackson dislikes smart phones so deeply that he is requiring us to "lock" our phones in pouches during the concert. This will enable us to focus on his dissonant latest album instead of shooting awful photos and videos of his blue hair.
But here's the truth about me and my phone freeness: in circa 1977, when you could still smoke on airplanes and in rock shows, I attended my first rock concert – the Doobie Brothers – and believe me when I tell you that no one had a phone, except for the kind that were connected to the wall. I mean, if someone did have a phone, it was a character from a 007 movie, and I don't believe any 007 characters attended that show.
So not the first phone-free show ever, but I get it - first in quite a long time.