Maxwell

MTV is bringing back 'Unplugged.' First artist: Shawn Mendes. Will his young fans tune in?

MTV is bringing back 'Unplugged.' First artist: Shawn Mendes. Will his young fans tune in?

With room for 1,600 or so, the Theatre at Ace Hotel is about as intimate as it gets for Shawn Mendes, the teen-pop heartthrob who is launching MTV’s newly resuscitated “Unplugged” and whose current arena tour stopped at Staples Center for a sold-out show in July.

But it wasn’t the relatively small crowd size that most stood out on a recent evening as Mendes performed at the downtown venue — it was the lack of glowing smartphones in an audience accustomed to documenting everything on social media.

How to explain the unusual focus on what was happening onstage? Mendes’ young fans didn’t really have a choice: They’d had to check their phones at the door in order to witness the...

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