Lane 8 is a musician, not a science fiction writer. But his ongoing “This Never Happened” tour, which stops in San Diego Friday at Bang Bang, would be worthy of a mind-bending sci-fi scenario even if he wasn’t a classically trained pianist with a degree in geology.
How else to describe an electronic music artist who prohibits the use of all cell phones at every performance during his ongoing “This Never Happened” tour?
That’s right. No cell phone photos or videos are allowed when Lane 8 (real name: Daniel Goldstein) is on stage. His goal is for attendees to experience and enjoy his shows, live and in real time, with no distractions.
So, either leave your phone at home - a seemingly unthinkable prospect for many Millennials - or be prepared for eviction if you use it. To help resist the urge, upon entering each venue that Lane 8 is performing in, your phone will be covered with a special tape to prevent its use.
“I understand people want to take quick pictures or videos at a show, just so they can remember it later, and I don’t feel there’s anything inherently wrong with that,” Goldstein said, speaking from his home in Denver.
“But I feel we’ve moved to a new phase where the focus is not on experiencing what is happening in front of you, at all, but on using your (phone) photos and videos as an asset to bolster your social media presence. That’s what I object to.
“And that’s the attitude we wanted to get away from with ‘This Never Happened.’ We want people to enjoy a special live musical experience... We’re trying to bring a certain mindfulness to live music that has been lost in a lot of ways.”
The groundswell of artists opposed to, or prohibiting, phone use at their concerts has been growing. From Bob Dylan, Louis C.K., Wilco and Alicia Keys to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Björk, Savages and Jack White, more and more young and veteran performers have voiced their objections - and taken steps to curtail cell phone use when they perform.
Then there’s Peter Frampton, who became so frustrated by a concertgoer’s nonstop phone use at one his 2014 concert in Indiana that, prior to his encore, he ended up flinging the fan’s phone 150 feet behind the stage into an empty seating section. The audience cheered.
In a sign of just how contentious the issue is becoming, Apple is now working on technology that will enable performers and venues to disable phones at their concerts.
When: 10 p.m. Dec. 9
Where: Bang Bang, 526 Market St., Gaslamp Quarter
Tickets: $25 (must be 21 or older)
But Lane 8 is one of the first electronic music artists to initiate a no-phone policy, although he acknowledges that Berghain - a top electronic music club in Berlin - has banned cell phones altogether.
Lane 8 has posted extensively on his social media pages to alert his fans, in advance, about the no-phone-use policy at his shows. Fans entering his shows are handed cards that read: Experience the moment, Don’t record it. This Never Happened.
Moreover, simply to buy an advance ticket online for any of the shows on his tour, fans must acknowledge their awareness of the no-phone policy.
“We’ve been very upfront about it,” said Goldstein, who in September performed at the fourth edition of San Diego’s CRSSD Festival at downtown’s Waterfront Park.
“On every ticket page for this tour, you have to accept a dialog box that says: ‘I’ve read the paragraph blurb from Lane 8 that say this is a phone-free venue and that he wants you to experience it without distractions.’ There’s a lot of messaging and communication leading up to the event, so people aren’t surprised when they get there.”
At 28, Goldstein is no stranger to cell phones as a staple of everyday life - and a ubiquitous presence at concerts of nearly every musical persuasion.
“For sure, I’ve been to a lot of shows and have been guilty of taking video of pictures. It would be ridiculous for me to say I never have, because, of course, I have,” he acknowledged. "But people’s development changes over time. And my perspective as a performer is much different than as a fan.
“When I was the age of a lot of the audience members I see at my shows now, I don’t think (phone use) was at the level it is today. People took videos and photos, occasionally. But you could still have a really good vibe at show and see people were engaged.
“But, as my career has grown over the past few years, the use of cell phones has gotten completely out of hands at shows, to the point where I feel it’s a real issue. So my thinking has evolved and I do understand both sides.”
And how are audiences at his “This Never Happened” shows reacting to the no-phone experience?
“The response has been beyond our expectations,” Goldstein replied. “We’ve done 17 shows so far and we’ve only kicked out a small handful of people - 99.9 percent of the people have not been on their phones. And people are saying they enjoyed seeing it live and not seeing it on their phone. We’ve been fortunate that people have embraced it."