Why you can’t use your cell phone at an Alicia Keys concert

alicia-keysPhoto by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Sorry, but next time you see Englewood resident Alicia Keys perform, you won’t be able to bring your phone into the venue. Instead, concertgoers at her shows will now be required to put them in a pouch made by technology company Yondr. The pouch then locks, allowing for a phone-free event; if you want to use your phone after that, just step outside, use it, and put it back in the pouch before returning.

As The Washington Post reports, the pouch has been used by everyone from Dave Chapelle to Louis C.K. to Chris Rock to Guns N’ Roses, artists who are tired of unauthorized clips of their sets appearing online, and who, like Adele, want audience members to pay attention to what’s happening live in front of them, not mediated by a screen.

DJ Walton, who helps manage Alicia Keys, used Yondr during her April performance at New York’s Highline Ballroom, and said he was especially concerned about new songs from her upcoming album she planned to perform being leaked to the public. “We don’t want the first time you ever hear a song to be some [lousy] MP3 somebody captured on their phone. We have a 30-foot stage and you’re looking at it through a four-inch iPhone. We want people to come and almost forget about their phones for a moment,” he said.

As Yondr founder Graham Dugoni put it, “If you haven’t been to a phone-free show, you just don’t know what you’re missing. There’s something about living in real life that can’t be replicated.”

This is also an efficient and fair way to go about making sure flashes and recording lights don’t distract everyone from the reason they’re there. At the last concert I attended, Natalie Merchant spent at least five minutes inviting audiences to personally hand her their phones rather than record the show. She then returned them after her performance, but that would be impossible to replicate in a large venue.

Alicia, like many artists, prefers to control how and when her new music reaches listeners’ ears, whether via Snapchat, or releasing it via YouTube, as she did today with her song “Hallelujah.”