Cell phones are the latest accessory at rock concerts

By Catherine Lucey, The Associated Press
Saturday June 01, 2002

CAMDEN, N.J.— When Colombian singer Shakira takes the amphitheater stage in this teen-pop concert, girls in the crowd wave their hands in the air and squeal. Then they whip out their cell phones and call a friend. 

Mobile phones have quickly become a popular concert accessory. Fans call friends to brag about the show and hold up their phones so others can hear a favorite song. 

At a recent concert at the Tweeter Center in Camden, the crowd was dotted with tiny cell phones — Nokias and Motorolas in pink, silver and blue. 

“She couldn’t come, and this is our song,” yells Casey Connelly, 18, of Ridley Park, Pa., over the thunderous sounds of Shakira’s “Underneath Your Clothes.” 

Connelly sways back and forth with the crowd, her phone above her head in one hand. 

“She did it for Britney Spears and now for this,” says her friend Megan McGorman, 18, on the other end of the line at home in Ridley Park. 

Sue Aiello, 19, is sitting on the grass with three friends, all wearing tank tops and chatting on cell phones. She plans to call friends when Ja Rule comes on later. “They’re working and I’m not,” she explains. 

Of course, not everybody at the concert is calling to share the music or show off. 

“I called in between songs to check on my son,” said Jennifer Ritchie, 21, of Leesburg, N.J. 

And many parents insist their teens take a phone to a concert for safety’s sake, or to let parents know where and when to pick them up. 

Concert promoter Butch Stone of Little Rock, Ark., says he’s never heard artists complain about cell-phone use during performances or raise questions about whether people on the other end of the phone might be recording the show. 

“In terms of piracy, I don’t think the technology is there,” he said. 

“Our policy is this: Unless the artist objects, we don’t restrict cell phones or cameras. I can’t recall the artist ever having a problem.” 

The concert calls are just part of cell phones’ overall popularity with young people, said Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney. 

“People from 18 to 24 are coming of age in a technological era. Because so many of them have them now, they’re getting more creative in how they use them,” she said. 

She also said “people are text messaging everything from ’Meet me at the concert’ to ’Where are you?”’ 

Jodi Heyman, 25, holds out her phone during a song by the boisterous O-Town. She leaves a message for her brother, who’s in the military.