The Raconteurs plan phone-free concert at Pittsburgh’s Stage AE |

The Raconteurs plan phone-free concert at Pittsburgh’s Stage AE

Paul Guggenheimer
Jack White and Brendan Benson of The Raconteurs play during the New American Music Union at Pittsburgh’s Southside Works in 2008.
The Raconteurs will play at Pittsburgh’s Stage AE on August 13, 2019.

The 21st-century concert experience largely means having one’s focus on the stage compromised by the glow from someone’s cellphone, or having a view obscured by people taking photos or making video recordings of their favorite song.

That won’t be the case at Stage AE on Tuesday night, however, when Jack White and The Raconteurs take the stage at the popular North Shore concert venue. That’s because the rock band is playing phone-free shows on their tour. No photos, video or audio recording devices are allowed.

White says he doesn’t like cellphones and doesn’t even own one. He has banned them from his concerts since 2018, according to

“We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experiencing music and our shared love of it in person,” said a statement issued by tour management.

The way it works is that upon arrival at the venue, all phones and other photo or video-capturing devices are secured in a so-called Yondr pouch. Yondr is a company that makes mobile phone pouches which close with a proprietary lock, and a device for unlocking them.

Audience members maintain possession of their phones at all times and can access them in designated phone use areas located in the venue.

Amy Cooper, director of marketing for Stage AE, said it’s not an unusual policy anymore.

“It is not unprecedented,” Cooper said. “It’s very common for comedy tours to implement the Yondr bags.”

Rolling Stone reported comedian Dave Chappelle is a Yondr enthusiast and once told an audience, “You all need a break from that s___.”

Brian Naccarelli, 39, of Dormont, is a Raconteurs fan and plans to attend Tuesday night’s show. He says he attended Jack White’s last Stage AE show in 2014 where fans were asked to refrain from using their cellphones.

But that was on a voluntary basis. Now, Naccarelli says he is a little wary of the pouch policy.

“The concern I’m having is how this is going to slow everyone getting in. The security at Stage AE can be a little bit slow. There’s that line that wraps around the venue getting in and if it’s raining it takes even longer. So my apprehension is about this making things worse and causing a negative vibe,” Naccarelli said.

Naccarelli added that everyone seemed to go along with White’s request to put their phones away at his last Stage AE show and he questions the need to make it a rule.

“I think if they would just make a similar announcement to last time that it probably would be fine,” he said.

Stephanie Rex, 35, of Verona, plans to attend The Raconteurs Stage AE show. She said she is looking forward to not having phones block her view.

“As a short person, it gets a little annoying when the person in front of you has their phone up in the air,” she said. “So, I love the idea that people are being forced to be in the moment.

Rex said her only real concern is figuring out how to find her friends at the concert when no one is able to use their cellphone.

“I really love this idea and I have a personal policy of not taking video at the shows I go to because it’s important for me to be in the moment,” Rex said. “I feel like so much of the magic of going to hear and see live music is lost to us today because we’re so attached to our phones.”

While there have yet to be any stories about major problems with the Yondr pouch system, if you are planning to see The Raconteurs on Tuesday, you may want to plan on arriving a little earlier than usual. Just in case.

“It takes a little more extra planning ahead of time to meet up with people. But this is what people had to do years ago when we didn’t all have phones all the time.”

Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].

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