Nick Cave instructs SXSW in phone etiquette

The audience at his talk showed a little bit too much mobile device love. But not for long

Published March 12, 2013 5:59PM (EDT)

   (<a href=''>Featureflash</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(Featureflash via Shutterstock)

As the SXWX Interactive tide starts to ebb, the Music festival is beginning. Internet geeks are departing by the throngs, replaced by considerably more fashionable musicians. And on this day of interspecies mingling, Nick Cave came to town and talked about his life for an hour. Standing room only, obviously.

His conversation turned out to have nothing remotely to do with technology, except for one cathartic moment.

As soon as Cave walked onto the stage, audience members began to raise their phones and tablets above their heads to take photographs. This being the last day of SXSW Interactive, well, let's just say that there were a lot of devices.

Larry Sloman, the host, started on his first question, but Cave interrupted him before he could finish. He stared out at the crowd, with more than a trace of horrified belligerence.

"Are you really going to do that with those fucking things the whole time?!" he sneered, in a loving way, if one can sneer in a loving way.

We laughed. We might be geeks, and we might have just spent five days at a conference where the very notion of phone etiquette is risible in the extreme, but Nick Cave is a walking, talking, singing reality check. He instructed everyone to take their pictures promptly and then put their phones away. We complied. The hammer came down.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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