For the past year and a half, sublime house producer and Anjunadeep alum Lane 8 has been asking people attending his shows to leave their phones at home or in their pockets. But what does that mean? What does “This Never Happened” actually look like? First, there was an email from Daniel, then the venue, then postings through their socials, asking all attendees, “Leave your phone. Experience the moment.” The message was pretty simple, but in this time of heavy reliance on (re: addiction to) reaching for your phone for everything, of recording phones a regular part of the concert crowd landscape, is that even possible? How?

Last night at The Loft in downtown Minneapolis, I learned that and a few unexpected things along the way.

My partner opted to leave her device at home, but I brought my phone with me, and while I had it out in line so it could be scanned for our tickets, I quickly lost my way in emails, Twitter, and….somebody reached out while I was looking at it and slapped a piece of red tape across the front facing camera, then continued around the back to cover the rear camera as well. I thought somebody was messing with me, but then I caught the initials TNH on the tape and recognized it as Lane 8’s method to discourage recording.

Inside the venue, I noticed a general lack of phone usage entirely. It wasn’t that we were forbidden to use our phones at all. The basic premise was to discourage recording, but everybody seemed to be in consensus to abandon phone usage almost entirely. I figured there were likely people roaming the crowd keeping an eye out for people with their phones up to stop them, but I never got confirmation on that, because throughout his 2+ hour set, nobody tried take so much as a single snap.

So what was it like to attend a show devoid of phones? People looked at each other rather than at tiny screens in their hands. Everybody was jovial and for the most part polite. Nobody strained to get a shot or held their phablet up in its wallet case for seven straight minutes to capture a song in full, and nobody got in the way unless they were dancing. The feeling in the crowd was more connected than I’ve felt at a show in some time.

Lane 8’s set was something special as well. He kicked it off with his new album’s opener, “Daya,” and took the crowd on a long and emotional journey. There was a cohesive narrative throughout, as he eventually split from his own work and pulled in other people’s music as well, including an expertly feathered-in version of George FitzGerald’s sublime, “Burn,” either remixed or mashed up with a more punchy backing.

He took the crowd into some darker low spots before a long, gradual build back up through his remixes of Deadmau5, Rufus Du Sol, and somehow we found ourselves in an unexpectedly heavy frenzy before he eased off into “No Captain,” the song featuring help from local trio Polica. Eventually he landed where he began, in “Daya/No End in Sight,” coming to the edge of the stage to shake hands and say goodnight.

Daniel may have said his goodbyes, but the crowd wasn’t quite done with him yet. A “One more song!” chant shifted to a, “One more set!” chant, complete with clapping, foot stomping, even the lighting crew got in on the action cutting the lights on and off with each beat. Eight minutes might not sound like a long time, but when people are chanting, it easily feels like eighty.

I can’t say for sure if Daniel Goldstein is the kind of guy who gives into crowd demands. If the chant only went on for two minutes, then petered out, would he still have hopped back onstage? Or was the crowd’s gumption so notable that he was drawn back by their energy? It honestly felt like the latter. He played several more songs, and got fairly heavy before let up again for the second ending.

If you live in a city on Lane 8’s tour, you owe it to yourself to take part in one of these shows. I’m going to date myself here, but this is how concerts used to be. I’m not going to say they’re better, but there’s a whole lot less of the stuff that tends to make them worse. This is a worthwhile glimpse into that world and to experience a beautifully crafted set.

“Pics or it didn’t happen.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I guess this never happened.

I work, live and play in Minneapolis.
I help people talk to computers.
I write about music. A lot.