Where has the signature gone?

by Britt Chester | @awfullybrittish

For every concert you attend, or show, or rave, or warehouse party, there is something personable about the headliner, or the opening act, that you connect with. Otherwise, why would you pay money to see the show?

Prior to days of smart phones, or really just phones with cameras on them (remember when you had to buy an attachment just to take 2.5 megapixel photos that you couldn’t do anything with?), there was the autograph. The autograph was once the most coveted of memories for concertgoers, sports fans, and anyone who places an ungodly amount of iconicism on any one human.

Some signatures are just famous, though. For instance, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s signature on Mark Chapman’s copy of the “Double Fantasy” LP is worth more than $500,000. Sure, that’s a rare copy that was actually used as evidence, but still it’s signed.

The lost pastime of waiting outside of a venue before or after the show, watching hours of batting practice, or powering through paparazzi for the chance at meeting your icon is long gone. There are a select few people who still do it, but the signature, or “autograph” means nothing now to the Internet, where self-esteem monopoly money is earned through likes, shares, and, in rare instances, from the likes of your celebrity, which you shamelessly tagged with a dishonest comment about “how great it was to see him/her/them.”

Meet and greets at venues used to be exclusive for fans to interact with their idols before a concert. It used to mean something. It meant the artist was giving back to his fans, graciously, by taking time from his/her/their tour to actually get to know the people funding their lives. But even the meet and greet has turned into a cruel ploy to sell an Instagram for an extra $20 on top of the ticket price. Artists don’t even interact beyond a “Hey” before stepping in front of your phone. It’s completely devalued the fan-to-artist interactive experience, and you can tell when you go for the selfie with the chosen celebrity and they look soulless.

The autograph, though, is a respectful way of earning a memory. You could take a picture of it and share that, but the moment is what’s really important, not the afterthought notifications popping up on your phone from people who knew you were going to the concert.

This past weekend we were cruising around the Greensboro Coliseum photo graphing the USA Gymnastics Championships when we stumbled upon this wall of fame featuring signatures from some of the most revered artists and performers of the past 65 years. Under protective glass were the scribbles of headliners, openers, and other performing acts that have graced the stage at the Coliseum. Share with us some of your favorite memories from concerts, or even interactions with people you revere, and we’ll award you with a super package to see a concert and have dinner on us. !