US comedian Chris Rock peformes his Total Blackout Tour show in the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, on October 8, 2017.

US comedian Chris Rock peformes his Total Blackout Tour show in the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, on October 8, 2017.

Paul Bergen/Agence France-Presse

You're used to being told to put your phone on silent while enjoying a performance, but what if the venue asked you to literally lock your phone away?

That will be the case for fans going to see comedian Chris Rock at Toyota Music Factory in Irving on Nov. 9, thanks to the Yondr case, a new product gaining popularity among artists and entertainers.

The Yondr case is a fabric pouch equipped with a magnetic lock that activates once inside a designed "cellphone-free" space. The only way to unlock it is to have a venue staff member tap it to a base station, much like a cashier would remove the security tag from an item of clothing.

Rock is one of several comedians, including Dave Chappelle, Ali Wong and Michael Che, who have adopted the use of Yondr cases in an effort to protect their material from being leaked online. (Entertainers rent the cases from Yondr, which then ships them to the artist to travel with or to the venues where they're playing.)

"We've had a strict no-cellphone rule for years," Chappelle told CBS This Morning after teaming up with Yondr in 2016. "Obviously, if you look on YouTube, you will see that very few people adhere to it."

According to Kelly Taylor, marketing director for Yondr, the products were developed in response to 21st century norm of being constantly connected to technology. Yondr, which launched in 2014, has a simple purpose, says its website: "To show people how powerful a moment can be when we aren't focused on documenting or broadcasting it." The company has also worked with musicians, including Chance the Rapper, Solange and Guns N' Roses, as well as with schools, courthouses and theaters.

Garland resident Sean Lewis learned about the Yondr cases when he attended Chappelle's performance at Toyota Music Factory on Oct. 27. He had been told by his friend who purchased tickets that attendees would not be able to have their phones, which he interpreted to mean phones would be taken up by venue staff or secured in lockers outside of the showroom. 

Lewis was relieved to find out his cellphone wouldn't leave his possession -- attendees keep the Yondr pouches with them -- but what if he needed to use it?

"My big concern was something like the [recent Vegas concert shooting] -- something major happens and you don't have a way to contact your family or call 911," says Lewis, a senior network systems engineer for tech company Irby Co. "I'm sure there are lots of people who probably had babysitters or family members watching children, or even children at home that needed to get ahold of their parents. I work in IT field, so there's a lot of medical devices that are connected through your phone."

Chris Rock

It is easy to feel a phone vibrating through the pouch, even if you can't see who's calling, says Taylor at Yondr. And if you need to use your device, you can simply walk to the venue lobby and have a staff member unlock the case, she adds. While the cases themselves do not respond to emergency situations by unlocking, Taylor says Yondr's production team works with every venue to figure out specific emergency protocol.

"Venue staff always have their phones available," she says. "Should an emergency occur, the venue is ready to take action."

Logistically, implementing the Yondr cases causes some traffic at the venue entryways. 

Lewis waited about 10 minutes while staff unlocked the pouches before he could exit Toyota Music Factory after Chappelle's show. (Pro tip: To avoid long lines on your way inside the venue, print tickets at home.) While the process wasn't overbearing, Lewis says if he were considering purchasing tickets to another show that required locking away his cellphone, "it would make me think twice."

CORRECTION, 11:02 a.m., Nov. 8, 2017: An earlier version of this story said Yondr's product team works with venues on an emergency plan, instead of its production team.

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