A Phone Free Festival: What’s in Store at Over Yondr Festival, June 24-26

Cell phones have changed the dynamic of concerts and festivals in the past 20 years. Whereas in the early part of the 21st century, holding up your cell phone so your friend at home can (sort of) hear a song was fairly common, now in 2022 you can stream the concert direct to them with clear sound and visual quality.

It doesn’t have to be like this. When you’re at a show, naturally you want to take a photo or post to social media, but that can distract from your enjoyment of a show, as well as the enjoyment of those around you.

over yondr phone

Enter Yondr. Since 2014, the company has partnered with comedians, musicians and even schools to provide pouches that seal phones inside so they cannot be used during performances or instructional time.

If you haven’t heard of Over Yondr Festival via social media, there’s a reason for that – the company does not have any social media accounts and does little advertising. “People are bombarded with so many notifications and advertisements, it’s not something we need,” said Yondr founder and CEO Graham Dugoni. “People don’t need to be hit up for new things. We practice less is more. Social media isn’t going away but its presence in daily life is going to change.”

The lack of social media hasn’t prevented Yondr from partnering with big names like Dave Chappelle, Alicia Keys, John Mulaney and more to keep events completely phone-free using Yondr’s patented sealable pouch.

The use of these pouches at shows is so that patrons are not distracted by their phones and unable to use them, all while holding onto them during the performance in a sealed pouch. Returning to the intimacy of a distraction-free environment is one thing that drove Dugoni to build the brand in the past 8 years.

At a show when someone photo or text, their attention leaves the space for a moment, making it harder to re-engage. You miss what a great show can be. Spaces need to be carved out for things, like music festivals and live entertainment, that are negatively affected by the presence of phones and digital media.

Yondr founder and CEO Graham Dugoni

Considering the impact phones have on young people, and the next generation of festival attendees, live music and performance patrons will need to keep the phone at bay so they can enjoy the full scope of the event, not what is limited to glances at screens.

Dugoni notes the factors that go into the artist’s decision to insist on a no-phone policy. “When there is privacy, perhaps an artist wants to try out new material and not have the music show up the next day. You need a degree of privacy to make that happen. If you pull a phone out often it can have a negative impact.”

By entering the venue, locking your phone in a pouch and carrying it with you, possession is maintained if access is not. There is of course a smokers-section style area to check your phone just in case, while creating a simple gorund rule for all to get along with.

“After 5-10 min people will forget about their phones. You get out of the rhythm of responding to texts and pings,” noted Dugoni.

Dugoni and his team first came up with the plan for a phone-free festival when the company was founded, he notes how “there is big community of people paying attention to their phones and social media who want to get together without that. Society is looking for spaces where they can unplug.”

aerial view of the festival grounds

Scheduled to take place from June 24-26 on private farmland at 5143 Route 81 in the town of Greenville, the Over Yondr Festival will bring more than a dozen eclectic musical acts and hundreds of music fans to Greenville.

over yondr phone
map of the Over Yondr Festival grounds

Greenville was chosen for the location of the festival after the Yondr team took a trip to the area several years ago. They stopped in Rensselaerville and also looked for sites in California but they felt built up. Given how Yondr sees the world now, it seemed like a natural fit. “The locals have been great and it just seemed right. You still have the feel of counterculture and with this generation we are ready for one, pushing back on technology and aiming for simplicity in life. And I think it’s already beginning. Coming out of college, grads don’t want to stare at a screen all day, and a lot of political and social division can arise from that.”

We are trying to put the technology in its right place. The next generation has to learn to treat the physical world as real and their interactions online as different. If you don’t disaggregate those two, a lot of negative things tend to happen. Phone free spaces are helpful and unique places to see 20-30,000 interacting and talking in concession line. It takes only a little to remove this social impediment.

Yondr founder and CEO Graham Dugoni

As for that eclectic lineup? Dugani and his team assembled the artists, looking for a diversity of sounds among the more than 15 performers, a lineup that felt right for the atmosphere, per Dugani.

Tickets are on sale now for Over Yondr Festival. and get 15% off by entering code NYSMUSIC.

Over Yondr Festival Daily Lineup

Friday, June 24

Topaz Jones
Kaleta & The Super Yamba Band
Black Mountain Symphony
Anna Fox Rochinski
Nas Leber

Saturday, June 25

!!! (chk chk chk)
Sheer Mag
Bones of JR Jones

Sunday, June 26

Jak Lizard
Rhys Tivey
Andrew Richards

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