November 21, 2018

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Rock star has audiences taking a break from technology

Jake and Erin Doty's cell phones are placed in security pouches before the Jack White concert at the BellMTS Place Tuesday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jake and Erin Doty's cell phones are placed in security pouches before the Jack White concert at the BellMTS Place Tuesday.

No using your phone in the Phone Booth?

No problem — at least it wasn’t Tuesday night, when the doors opened for the first phone-free concert at Bell MTS Place.

Older concertgoers and younger fans in attendance for the Jack White experience seemed glad to put away their smartphones and be in the musical moment for a couple of hours.

“I’ve followed Jack White for 20 years, and this is the type of experience I’d expect from him,” said Jake Doty, who was there with his wife, Erin. The Dotys, in their mid-30s with three children, said they find it annoying and distracting when concertgoers are on their devices texting and taking videos throughout a show.

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No using your phone in the Phone Booth?

No problem — at least it wasn’t Tuesday night, when the doors opened for the first phone-free concert at Bell MTS Place.

Digital tickets are scanned before concert goers can enter BellMTS Place Tuesday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Digital tickets are scanned before concert goers can enter BellMTS Place Tuesday.

Older concertgoers and younger fans in attendance for the Jack White experience seemed glad to put away their smartphones and be in the musical moment for a couple of hours.

"I’ve followed Jack White for 20 years, and this is the type of experience I’d expect from him," said Jake Doty, who was there with his wife, Erin. The Dotys, in their mid-30s with three children, said they find it annoying and distracting when concertgoers are on their devices texting and taking videos throughout a show.

So does White, whose phone-free Boarding House Reach tour in Canada started Friday in Edmonton and ends Nov. 14 in Halifax.

"We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it — in person," White’s concert promo said.

Upon entering the phone-free show Tuesday in Winnipeg, tickets and QR codes were scanned for admission and the concertgoer’s section and seat number were handwritten on a piece of paper and given to them so they could find their seat. After passing through security, all phones and photo- and video-capturing devices were secured in a Yondr system pouch concertgoers kept with them. It could only be unlocked at the end of the show or in a designated phone zone outside the concert area.

"It’s not a big deal," said James Howell, 22. "When I go to a baseball game, I want to watch the game — it’s kind of the same thing."

"I like it," said Austin, 20, who didn’t want his last name published. "We’re here to see a concert."

Concert goer cell phones are placed in security pouches before the Jack White concert at the BellMTS Place Tuesday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Concert goer cell phones are placed in security pouches before the Jack White concert at the BellMTS Place Tuesday.

Both young men said they’re used to having their phones on all day. Putting them away for a time wasn’t going to be a hardship. "It doesn’t bother me at all," Howell said.

Jack Doty said he brought his smartphone to show their tickets’ QR code to get into the concert, and to be able to stay in touch with the babysitter in case of emergency. He said even if he could, he wouldn’t have taken photos at the concert or posted anything on social media.

"I work in education and stay away from social media," Doty said.

"I’m the opposite," his wife said, adding she would’ve taken a photo if she could, but was OK with leaving her phone at home.

The first phone-free show at Bell MTS Place came just after arena owner/manager True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd. started using a mobile-device-only ticketing system at the downtown arena.

Fans in other cities have reportedly experienced difficulties trying to use digital tickets at White’s shows, having their phones locked up before they even made it to the lobby.

On Tuesday night, the system seemed to be working when the doors opened. Although True North has moved to paperless ticketing, some concert-goers had paper tickets at Tuesday’s show — likely because they bought them before the system went paperless, a manager with the company said.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Reporter

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

Read full biography

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