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John Lamb, Published October 04 2011

Lamb: App-reciating Rocktober

For years I’ve marked Rocktober by going to concerts, listening to records, reading rock-ographies and watching rockumentaries during this month.

In other words, doing nothing different, just being more conspicuous about it.

But at the James McMurtry concert this past Sunday night in The Aquarium, I wondered if I am not fully appreciating Rocktober.

Or rather, app-reciating.

Cellphones have been a concert accessory for a decade, allowing ticket-holders to call friends and let them listen to a song – though it really only sounded like a pocket-dialed call where all you could hear was some chick complaining about something you really didn’t want to know about.

As phones evolved, so did their uses at concerts. On Sunday night, I was struck by how many people were recording videos. I am a McMurtry fan, but I don’t search YouTube looking for poorer quality videos of songs I know from good quality recordings.

But maybe that’s just me.

And maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t understand why you would spend most of the night looking at your camera instead of the guy you paid $18 to see standing 15 feet in front of you. Is there a market for singer/songwriter bootleg videos I should be exploring?

On Tuesday, Apple announced its new changes to the iPhone. Apple is always pretty smart with marketing, which is why I’m surprised the company didn’t tap into the spirit of Rocktober.

Sure, there’s already the virtual Zippo lighter application, which would’ve been handy in the 1980s, preventing Aquanet hair fires at Bon Jovi and Poison shows.

Apps like Soundhound and Shazam can identify songs by “hearing” them.

But what about an app that speaks for the concert-goer? How about an app that identifies songs, then checks against recent playlists and predicts the next number? This would allow the user to yell for the song just before it is played, making that person look eerily clairvoyant or just hopelessly nerdy.

If there’s not already an app that yells out “ ‘Free Bird!’ ” or “Play your hit!” there should be one.

What would be even better for everyone else at the show would be an app to keep you from being that guy who ticks everyone off by predictably yelling for “Free Bird.” Instead of shouting it out, just click the app and pop star Carmen Electra appears on the screen, totally distracting the would-be rebel-yeller for the rest of the show.

That would be a smart phone app for the dumb.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533