Listen in the moment

Ella Jiang, Staff Writer


Art by Phoebe Vo

On April 26, 2022, I was sure of one thing and one thing only; I was going to have the time of my life that night and nothing was going to get in my way. It was my first ever concert and I was going to be seeing the one and only, Beabadoobee.

Days before, I had chosen an outfit, planned my makeup, coordinated carpools, and prepared a small crossbody bag with all my essentials: chapstick, water, money, and of course, my phone.
When the day of the concert finally arrived and the clock struck 6 p.m., my posse of friends and I pulled into the outdoor venue Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay, wide-eyed and giddy as we stood impatiently in line awaiting one of the best nights of our lives.

Inside, the music was loud, the crowd even louder, and the flashes of purple-ish and red lights blinded me. And that’s about all I can remember, because in the end, that entire three hours of epic indie rock songs were spoiled by an unlikely perpetrator: my phone.

Pitiful as it sounds, I had practically watched the full show through the display of my severely cracked iPhone screen. Instead of jumping and screaming the lyrics of “Cologne” with Beabadoobee herself singing it in front of me, I was focused on making a crucial decision that may as well have changed the trajectory of my life. What camera angle should I record at? Horizontal? Vertical? Both? The decision was obvious, so I chose vertical and stood still, stiff as a board so as not to mess up the video quality.

I had spent the whole night with my small, rectangular device in hand, held to my side with the camera app open and ready, because what if I forget about this in the future and need a video to re-jog my memory? What if when I go to post about it on Instagram, I won’t have good enough videos? What if when I tell my future grandchildren about the ultra-exciting life I led, I won’t have footage as proof?

“Last night was a movie,” I could honestly say for a complete fact because with the amount of recordings on my phone documenting the event, the run time could probably reach up to the length of a full feature film. But it was a less-than-average cinematic experience with no real payoff.

The videos are extremely low resolution with even lower sound quality, and as I go on with my life, I realize now, I will never actually look back on them. Nor will anyone else. Maybe once or twice when I tell someone I got to see Beabadoobee in concert, but otherwise, these videos will just sit in my camera roll untouched, taking up my precious storage space.

Recently, I had planned to make up for my disastrous, self-sabotaging concert experience. On September 30th, when I pulled into the same outdoor venue at 6 p.m., this time to see Declan Mckenna, I made sure something was going to change. Admittedly, I still had to consciously remind myself to not take out my phone to record every moment and to instead just enjoy the live music.

Surprisingly, that small change improved my concert experience exponentially. It felt like the memory I was making would be properly kept in the depths of my mind, with a lot less pressure to drain my phone battery with useless video fragments of a fun night.