Imagine a future where the hottest thing to smuggle into a music festival is not booze or drugs, but a cell phone. Would it be like prison contraband? There’re no Marlboros in that hollowed out Bible, it’s an old iPhone 6 that still has a real headphone jack. For purists that want to get back to the good ole days of you, the music, and nothing owned by Mark Zuckerberg, a new Capital Region music festival is attempting to do just that.

Over Yondr Fest is bringing bands to Greenville for three days of tent camping and phone-free music, games, and yoga. The festival is organized by Yondr, the San Francisco based company famous for facilitating no-phone concerts and shows for A-list musicians and comedians.

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Yondr made Capital Region headlines earlier this month when comedian John Mulaney required all phones be locked up during his SPAC standup. Kevin Hart and famously anti-tech rocker Jack White have also used Yondr’s technology to shut off screens at shows.

Yondr
Yondr
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Over Yondr works by making entrants place their phones and smartwatches in a padded pouch that is magnetically locked by staff or security. The pouch can only be unlocked by tapping it to a special base that releases the catch. It’s like a phone-barring version of the magnetic anti-shoplifting tags that department stores put on clothes.

Getty Images for GambleAware
Getty Images for GambleAware
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Over Yondr will have designated phone use areas that will briefly unlock your pouch, but the festival site states reception isn’t great at the festival site in the first place.

I’m curious as to how this ultimately plays out. It’s one thing to have people go without their phones for two to four hours for a single show, but to go an entire day would be a stretch for most.  Have you ever tried to find a friend at a music festival without a cell phone? I’m convinced there are best friends who got separated in line for the bathroom at Woodstock and never saw each other again for the rest of their lives.

Getty Images for Coachella
Getty Images for Coachella
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On another level, so many music festivals these days rely on phone usage and promotion from influencers and wannabes to make FOMO part of their marketing. Just look at the who’s who that live posts their Coachella experiences. On the most extreme side, look at Fyre Fest. Would the promise of an influencer-free, stunt-less fest be a big draw? We’ll see. (But not on Facebook.)

Over Yondr Fest is June 24-26. Individual day and weekend passes are still available.

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