Yondr in Use at Stories of Surrender

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2022-10-28)

Yesterday notifications were sent to ticket buyers, that many shows on Bono’s “Stories of Surrender” tour will be a phone free experience. Today notifications were also sent for the Madrid show. Yondr will be locking up phones as people enter the venue. This was announced in advance for Dublin and Berlin, but has been a more recent notification for venues in North America and other European shows including those in the UK. Unlike events in New York and Cheltenham, where people were asked not to use phones, the Yondr pouch ensures phones cannot be used to take photos and video.

The Yondr pouch is a small cloth bag which stays in your possession for the full show. But the bag is locked, and the contents cannot be accessed during the show, without moving to a designated area.

This isn’t new technology, but is still relatively new to many concert goers. Artists have been using it for a number of years. Jack White uses it, Madonna used it for her theatre shows in 2019, Alicia Keys, The Lumineers, Childish Gambino, Justin Timberlake and many others have used the technology. The company launched in 2014. The technology is also being used in some schools now to prevent students from using phones during classes.

As the shows are mobile tickets in most cases, you will arrive at the venue, show your ticket on your phone on the way in, and then you will be asked to put your phone into the pouch. Once closed the pouch is locked and you will not be able to open it without assistance. The pouch does not interfere with the phone itself, and if you set your notifications to vibrate, you will know when you have a notification, and can leave the performance to check what caused the notification.

For Madonna, during her theatre run, there was a single area where one could have their phone unlocked, with one entrance and one exit. As you entered the area, you passed through security which used a device to quickly unlock the pouch. As you leave the area, you again passed through the security check point and they ensured your phone (and other items) were securely locked again. At other events in larger spaces there are sometimes multiple areas set up to allow you to use your device. The pouches are big enough that they will not easily fit into pants pockets, so if that is where you typically store your phone, you may want to consider this in advance, as you will have a pouch to hold for the evening.

One word of warning, you will not be able to use your phone as a mobile payment device when it is locked in one of these pouches. That is why notifications being sent out by various ticketing agencies suggest bringing cash, or a physical card for payment. Your phone will be locked in a pouch and inaccessible when you are at the bar, or at a merchandise stand if one exists. It is usually only one or two small areas of the venue put aside where one can have the pouch opened, and it is not the entire lobby area, and generally food and beverage is not available in these unlocked areas.

I would suggest you do write down your seat number prior to getting to the venue. Once your phone is locked, it’s a nuisance to have to go to the unlock area to look up your seat number. Some artists have provided ushers with paper and pen to record seat numbers as people enter, but this is not done in all cases. It’s best to have a copy with you, and some of the emails yesterday and today have also suggested this.

Also if you are expecting a call or message you need to respond to, you may want to let people know you may need some time to respond. It will take time to leave your seat, move to the lobby, and enter the open pouch area.

One thing to remember, do not forget to unlock your phone before leaving the venue. As people leave the venue there is usually an unlocking station at each exit, and people stationed to assist with unlocking.

At this point we are aware that Yondr pouches will be in use in over half of the shows including New York, Toronto, Chicago, London, Dublin, Paris, Berlin and Madrid.

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