Booka Shade, bratwurst, Berlin, bier and, well... a 600 strong smartphone 'orchestra'. This is how the Frankfurt duo spent last weekend, with DJ Mag in attendance, trying something very special.
Arriving to find them in a pop-up venue in the south of Berlin, Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier, aka Booka Shade, are at the helm of this all-singing, all-dancing affair. With some help from Vodafone, they've gathered up 500 eager fans, their smartphones, and their patience so that this 'experiment' can take place.
Scepticism is in the air as we're separated into our different sections to stand with our phones at the ready - will it work? And if so, what will it look like? These are the thoughts in the people's minds that we speak to.
But as time goes on thing's begin to take shape; the app on our phone starts flashing and gives us a countdown to the launch of the show.
By this point the venue has now filled, the beers are flowing and anticipation is at it's peak. Suddenly the lights cut out and the unmistakable bassline of 'Body Language' echoes through the building. Instead of the mandatory hands in the air, though, people are swinging their smartphones around in the air. Having seen festival crowds holding their phones up, all filming in unison, is this the next stage in the future of raving? If it means faces glued to phones, disconnected from the music and surroundings, we hope not.
Seeing people with their phones out at gigs and parties is now a common sight, but is it something that a promotor should be encouraging? Fair enough, we're at a corporate sponsored event, and this is part of Vodafone's FIRST series, whose aim is to introduce trail-blazing ideas. But if the purpose of tonight is to improve the nature of performer/audience interaction, then there are some who might argue that the phone actually stands in the way of that, creating a digital divide even when artist and fan are face to face.
The phones continue to flicker, then flash different colours through-out the gig, but as time goes on arms grow tired and batteries near fatigue too. It's been a noble experiement, but one which seems to be attempting to impose a surpurfluos element on an already tried and tested formula. Either way, it's an interesting experience and it seems unlikely that anything will slow purveyors of new technologies treading the fine line between novelty and genuine innovation.
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