Technology Makes the Concert Experience Much Better Now Than It Ever Was

 Coldplay's concert in Kuala Lumpur last week got a lot of attention on social media. Many are satisfied with the arrival of this international level band and there are also those who are against it for personal reasons. I don't want to touch on whether or not Coldplay's concert is good because it's subjective. Instead I will touch on how technology makes the modern concert experience hundreds of times better than it was twenty years ago.

Old Uncle's Time..

In the late 1990s and still a university student in the UK, I did often watch concerts. Rage Against The Machine, Slipknot, Pearl Jam, Oasis and Travis are some of the bands that I got to watch when I (and they) were still relatively young.

However, the best concert I ever attended was the Toxic Twin Towers Ball at Wembley stadium in 1999. For just £28.50 (~RM170) I saw Stereophonics, The Black Crowes, Lenny Kravits and Aerosmiths in an all-day music festival.

Buy Tickets

I'll start with the first thing technology makes the experience of watching a concert better now, which is to make buying tickets easier. Previously, if you wanted to watch a concert, you could only buy it through a physical store or at the concert stadium. In London in 1999, I usually bought tickets from Tower Records, Virgin Megastore or HMV. From the beginning you have to choose where to buy because online purchases before the millennium were very limited.

After the location is chosen, it is necessary to queue from early in the morning to get the desired ticket. The number of tickets sold at each store is also limited. If it runs out, I have to go to another store to try my luck. Wrong day of the month, the celebration was too unusual, the tickets were sold out in all the shops and I just ran out of money to buy an expensive subway ticket.

With the online purchase system, the process of buying tickets is now much easier. There is a queue waiting system and meanwhile people can watch videos, eat, drink or relax at home. No need to stand in long queues under the hot sun or freezing weather for hours. Even so, I agree that in the case of Coldplay, there was a bot used by ticket maggots that caused many real fans to roll their eyes. Until this article is written and Chris Martin and his friends have returned home, no action has been taken by SKMM on the ticket maggots as promised.

Trip To Concert

The experience to the stadium is now also better because any traffic jams or disruption of public transport services will be reported directly to social media. What information can be brought to the stadium is shared by the organizers' social media.

Twenty years ago I had to carry a walkman and listen to the latest news from the radio. Each concert has an official radio station that will provide "up-to-date" information which is not very up-to-date because it is only done once every 30 minutes. If you're unlucky, you might be delayed due to operational disruptions due to labor strikes or train breakdowns.

Recording Memories

At a Coldplay concert, those who didn't go can see what happened at the concert while it was still going on. The video of the concert was immortalized by thousands of viewers who shared it on social media. With modern smartphones there is no problem seeing Chris Martin singing even if he is sitting quite far away because of the very good optical zoom system. The pictures taken also look beautiful even at night. Thousands of pictures and dozens of videos can be recorded from a smartphone.

Twenty years ago there were many obstacles to perpetuating memory. Only disposable cameras or cheap film cameras are allowed. SLR cameras are strictly prohibited from being brought into stadiums or concert venues. Even if there is a camera, the number of pictures that can be recorded is also limited to around 12, 24 or 36 only because of the film cartridge limit.

Photo from 1999 – Almost all out of focus due to low quality disposable camera.

Of the 36 captured, not all of them are usable because the image may be shaky, too dark, not properly focused or simply unattractive because there is no LCD screen on the film camera before the image is captured. Wrongly captured or the photo shop makes a mistake, all the memories that are trying to be immortalized are lost.

Video is impossible because if SLR cameras are not allowed, bringing in video recording cameras is also not allowed. I was quite lucky that the Toxic Twin Towers Ball concert was one of the biggest ever so there are some videos of it uploaded to YouTube. The problem is that the recording is done with a low powered VHD camera so the performance and audio quality is quite poor.


Performances in the late 90s only had lights on the stage and sometimes firecrackers for certain songs. To create an interesting vibe, the band will ask the audience to light lighters. Nowadays lighters and tobacco products are banned directly from being imported.

No lights or pyro. There is only a lighter.

The experience is a far cry from the fire when compared to a modern concert that has wristbands that light up in sync with the music being played. The lighting system is also more sophisticated.

Audio quality is also better now due to improvements in the microphone and speaker system. Even if you sit far from the stage, the audio can still be heard clearly. Audio engineers now tune the music to ensure that the majority of the audience can enjoy the concert with satisfactory audio regardless of where they sit.

Technology makes the modern concert experience many times more than it was just a generation ago. But one advantage of the first concert in my opinion is that there is no distraction from the smartphone.

In the past, if I went to a concert, I would try to enjoy the performance from beginning to end with only a few pictures taken. Looking at Coldplay concert videos on social media, all the time smartphones can be seen with the audience focusing on recording the video instead of enjoying the rare live performance.

So which generation concert is actually better? From an uncle's point of view, I can say that modern concerts are better in terms of the ease of buying tickets, getting information and the quality of entertainment that can be enjoyed. The only advantage of old concerts is that the price is MUCH cheaper. The integration of technology does make the experience better, but it also causes higher operating costs, causing ticket prices to become more extreme.

What do you think will be the technology of the future that will change the next generation concert experience? Propose your opinion in the comment section.

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