E-mail and photo via my friend Kevan:

Has anyone written anything about the phenomenon of people using cell phones as lighters at concerts? During every slow song last night, the whole Garden had their cell phones out waving them back and forth in the air.

I haven’t been to a stadium show in years. Is this true? Do people really WAVE THEIR CELL PHONES IN THE AIR? That’s … so sad, for so many reasons.

Comments (72)
  1. Clech  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    Yeah – it’s happening.

    At the U2 show’s at the Garden, Bono specifically asked people to take out their cell phones and hold them up. But that was his precursor to his promotion of THE ONE

  2. I’ve seen this now at two Death Cab shows in a row, but only by the high school (middle school? they look YOUNG) set. The fact that Death Cab audiences are now mostly underage is a whole other phenomenon.

  3. growler  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    All those people are holding up their phones so the person they just called will be jealous because they aren’t half as hip and cool and connected as the person who called.

    Or so the callers think.

  4. it is actually VERY sad. i was at a radiohead show 3 summers ago, and i spotted some kids waving their cell fones to we suck young blood.

    it sucked balls.

  5. It’s also starting to crop up in videos now…for some reason a recent Blink-182 video/concert video comes to mind.

  6. Oh, yeah. At a RHCP show in Tokyo a couple years ago I saw 20,000 Tokyans waving their crazy camera phones. Quite an effect.

  7. affirmative.


  8. sonicdeath99  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    At their Memphis show in February, Wilco tried to get everyone to set off their ring/ringtones at the same time during the encore. It failed miserably, but was pretty hilarious to hear Tweedy trying to walk people through how to set off their own phone.

  9. brandon  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    M.I.A. asked everyone at the show to hold up their phones like lighters… while opening for Gwen Stefani.

  10. Sadder than holding up actual lighters?

  11. sean  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    You can’t tke in casette recorders to most shows.
    You can’t bring in camera’s to some shows.
    You can’t bring a video camera to most shows.
    Cell phones fill the void and won’t get you kicked out. If some kids saw people bootlegging using a phone and thought it “looked cool”… thats just how fads start.

  12. Well, who smokes anymore? Why would you carry a lighter if all the venues in California and New York are all smoke free. I see no problem with this development. Especially if you are smoking in the pit you just end up buringing people with your cigarette.

  13. ryan p  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    At the Billboard Awards in LV, LL Cool J had everybody hold up their cellphones as the house lights were turned down… I think it was to honor the “Ringtone of the Year” or summat. EVERY SINGLE PERSON had a damn phone – it was freaky.

    Then I partied with R. Kelly and two twelve year olds. Seriously.

  14. brainville  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    I’m thinking it’s people calling their friends then holding up the phone as if to say “Remember this song? Don’t you wish you were here?” not realizing that all you can hear on the other end is distortion. My drunk brother does it all the time.

  15. I’ve been seeing it a smaller venues also. I refuse to participate… even with lighters.

  16. franco  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    at coldplay’s show they had a countdown for everyone to take a picture at the same time, and even had a sychronized effect go off at the end of the 3, 2, 1, so when everyone flashed, it had a this weird lighting effect.

  17. Yea, I call my brother from shows all the time. But, waving the phone in the air only distorts the sound and he hears just crap.

    I still prefer the lighters.

  18. No worse than holding up the stupid cell phones during the show to get blurry photos. Grr.

  19. grra  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    it was either at decemberists or broken social scene that i last saw this happen. smoking is outlawed in washington too (haha) so not many people had lighters, those that did put them up though.

  20. Shambles  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    It’s a light, get over your god damn hernias. Who cares what’s in your hand, it’s the fact that 20,000 other people are doing it at the same time that makes it look neat.

  21. Carly  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    I think it started around 2000/20001 at a Bare Naked Ladies concert in Canada. I remember reading about them asking people to bust out their cell phones. This story was somewhere on the internet around then… it’s just what i remember though, i could be wrong.

  22. richard  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    saw this at a U2 concert in montreal a couple of months ago. it was actually quite amazing.

    like a christmas tree…

  23. I think Verizon started it.. or some other telecom company. There was a commercial many years back of someone that couldnt be at a rock concert, (Vertical Horizon, ih?), so the friend held up their phone to he/she could listen from afar.

    Whenever I see this happen at a show, I think of conglomerate American telecom companies.

  24. I witnessed this phenomenon at a Common concert last fall, so yes, it is a real phenomenon.

  25. seiche  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    Does it count if I hold up my cellie and burn it with my lighter?

  26. Amy  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    I never really have been into the lighter thing but when I was in Africa this summer living a tent I kept using my mobile as a flashlight…. And who uses alarm clocks now… my mobile likes to sleep on the left side of my bed.

  27. telly  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    jerry’s right. there was an ad that featured this, maybe five or even ten years ago.

    it was really lame.

  28. Oh sweet Jesus on a tricycle. I really hope cell phones cause brain tumors, because we totally deserve it.

  29. Newsday wrote about this last year:

    According to one review, as the band launched into the hit ballad “One,” the stadium filled with the soft blue glow of the phones’ displays. Bono urged the crowd, with the help of video displays, to text message for information from the One Campaign to raise awareness about global poverty and AIDS.

    The phenomenon was repeated last Wednesday at Madison Square Garden as Simon LeBon, front man for ’80s pop group Duran Duran, urged the crowd to take out cell phones and lighters before launching into “Save a Prayer.”

    “It makes it look like the stars at night,” LeBon said of the glow. “And it makes you all look so much more beautiful.”

    Tom Ryan, senior vice president of mobile and digital development at EMI music, explained why people take out their phones even when Bono and LeBon aren’t telling them to.

    “The phone in general is being used as a method of sharing the unique [concert] experience,” he said.

    For instance, Ryan said someone at a Coldplay show could call a friend, let the friend hear a song, and then snap a shot of the band and message them the picture.

    That’s not the only reason phones are being thrust into the air, though. In a dark concert hall or arena, he said, the display screen on a cell phone creates a glow like a lighter, “especially when 20,000 people are holding them up.”

  30. Has anyone written anything about this?

    A quick Google of “cell phones”+lighters gives you 205,000 results.

    So, yes. It has been written about. About 205,000 times.

  31. Daniel  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    Cell phones are taking the place of so many different things, it pisses me off. MP3 players, cameras, PDAs, Drunk Driving Accidents.

    Why do we have to be connected all the time? I see people step out of work and flip open their phone, get into their car and almost back into other cars or me. I hate it. I see people use them at the gym WHILE WORKING OUT! What could you possibly need to say to someone while you are on the stairmaster?

    I hope those people all get massive brain tumors.

  32. Here’s an AP article from 2002:


    So this really is nothing new.

  33. JLoco  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    I can understand if you want to take a few shots of the band during the show. However, I saw Interpol this past year in LA. One night I had great seats. The second night I got stuck behind a trio of idiots who spent 90% of the show taking photos of EACH OTHER! No band shots, AT ALL! I know Interpol is boring live, but c’mon…heh.

  34. Holly  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    When I saw the Goo Goo Dolls 3 years ago Johnny Reznick talked about it. He said that at first he didn’t understand why people were holding up cell phones, until he realized people were calling their friends. Then he asked for someone to pass him their cell phone and he called people from their phonebook (while making fun of them for only having a couple people in their phonebook).
    It really isn’t that new phenomenon.

  35. smellaware  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    I think that sort of “fan” is the same creature that yells “Woooooooooooooooooo” during the quiet interludes between songs ruining the moment AND they also tend too say “dood” a lot.

  36. yeah, I saw Green Day last October and Billy Joe actually prompted everyone to put their cellphones in the air.

  37. I’m pretty sure there was an Ericcson commercial from the late 90s, where the lights go out at a Celine Dione concert and everyone holds up a cell phone. Of course, this was before everyone and their dead grandmothers had mobile phones so it was a little silly.

    And I seem to remember Ben Folds asking the audience to wave their cell phones in the air last year at Radio City.

  38. Matt  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    yea it was cute at first but now it happens at every freakin show, and even worse is people who take 1000 pictures during the show with the phones. Kinda hard to enjoy the view when there’s 20 mini LCD screens obscuring the view

  39. They’re all asking these days, Coldplay, U2 – everybody. They are ideed the new lighter – better make sure it’s charged before you hit any shows these days!

  40. Blair  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    I’ve noticed this “trend” and that is rather lame indeed… and sad.

    “The fact that Death Cab audiences are now mostly underage is a whole other phenomenon.”

    I noticed something similar at an Interpol show. The minimum age to get in was 18, though there had to have been a few -18s in there. And about 70% of the crowd was definitely under 21 (bracelet colors were the determining factor).

  41. rc95  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    Oh get over it. You were a kid once, and the people who could “remember when…” thought you were an idiot, too.

  42. davidngo  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    well…no one smokes anymore…so no one has any lighters. it makes sense. it’s kinda sad…but everything changes….

  43. It’s not cell phones per say as much as it is LCD screens. Digital Cameras and Camcorders made up big percent of the gizmos posing as lighters at Ultra Music Festival New York in Central Park.

    Chemical Brothers totally stole that show BTW. Awesome set from them.

    Not as good as Miami tho!

  44. The Shins asked the audience to do this at a show at the University of Washington. It was beautiful. They were a little grossed out at it themselves but hey, I’d rather see a bunch of blue and green lights than have the place fill up with butane fumes.

    This is the only thing that bugs me:”even worse is people who take 1000 pictures during the show with the phones. Kinda hard to enjoy the view when there’s 20 mini LCD screens obscuring the view”.

    Someone please explain the use of having photo documentation of *every* thing that happens to you. I barely look at the pictures I have and certainly don’t need crappy pics of someone else holding up their phone in front of a band…

  45. It’s not just at stadium show that people do that. I’ve seen people do it in small venues. sometimes the bands encourage it. Cell phones are the new lighters, man.

    … just like they’re the new cameras, the new mp3 players, the new video recorders, the mew tvs..

  46. Catie  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    I think there’s a video of a Rilo Kiley show where they ask everyone to hold up their cell phones in lieu of lighters (because everyone’s right – smoke free venues = no lighters). The camera did a crowd shot and it looked pretty cool. But… it also is kind of weird.

  47. seiche  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    So I was riding the train home tonight and I stood up and asked everyone to take out their cell phones and wave them in the air.

    Yeah, woooooooo, cell phones!

    They all just kind of looked at me.

    They must not read Stereogum.

  48. Saw it at a weezer show.

  49. meibou  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2006 0

    some girl at a CAKE show said something to me about using a lighter instead of my cellphone.

    I’m pretty sure I was the only lighter-wielding person in the place.

    I felt old.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.

%s1 / %s2