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Your phone is getting locked up at Alica Keys’ Gigs

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Musicians are getting tired of mobile phones zapping the atmosphere of their shows, especially Alica Keys. Yondr thinks they’ve found the solution to ‘free people’ from their mobile phones.

The small start-up company from San Francisco have created a lockable case, into which guests are required to place their mobile phones to create phone-free zones. The case doesn’t look like it’s the latest technology to come out of Silicon Valley, but it’s becoming the go to tool for artists – including Alica Keys, Lumineers and Chris Rock – to reclaim their live performances without going all Adele on their fans.


Graham Dugoni, 29, Yondr’s founder, explains the pouch serves two main purposes. The artist can try out new material without the worry of fans leaking it online. Most importantly fans will realise that they will actually enjoy the show a lot more by experiencing it, without constantly filming, snapchatting and tweeting.

“It’s a fallacy to think you can experience something and document it at the same time, regardless of what Google and Apple say. When you use your phone to record something or are texting you are not really there. Your mind is somewhere else,” says Graham Dugoni, founder of Yondr.

“As bizarre an experience it is to stand at a concert behind a sea of smartphones, it’s even stranger for the artists to see that sea of smartphones,” he adds. “If you haven’t been to a phone-free show, you just don’t know what you’re missing,” he says. “There’s something about living in real life that can’t be replicated.”

So, how does it work?

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When you enter a phone-free zone you are given a case, which comes in 3 different sizes to accommodate all devices, which feels the same as a laptop sleeve. The case is then locked and given back to you to keep safe until the show is over. If you need to use your mobile phone to make or receive a call, you can leave the phone-free zone and get the sleeve unlocked by pressing the metal button at multiple unlocking stations around the venue. Yondr won’t go into detail about exactly how the locking mechanism works, but it sounds like a security type mechanism that you’d get in a clothes shop which can detect if it’s in or out of the free-phone zone.


Dugoni insists that it’s not about punishing people for their smartphone use, but about liberating them. I agree, we’re living our lives so much through our iPhone screens instead of appreciating living in the moment and letting go. I’m not saying this solution is perfect, far from it, but bringing back the exclusivity of a live show instead of documenting every second is an idea I can get behind. People will complain I want to have ‘memories’ of the show, well support your artist buy some merchandise and share real memories with your friends, family and loved ones. Can we really not live without our phones for an hour and let go? Maybe not.


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