Thursday, March 27, 2008

In Defense of.....Wearing a Band's T-Shirt to the Same Band's Show

by Wayne Graham

I can't keep quiet about this any longer. I'm not sure when it started, but, at some point, it became conventional wisdom that going to a show wearing the t-shirt of the band you're going to see is not cool. I first became aware of this concept when a character made the claim in the Animal House wish-I-was PCU, that to "be that guy" is not good. First of all, one shouldn't place too much stock in anything that is said in a movie starring David Spade, even if Jeremy Piven, Jon Favreau, and George Clinton are in it, too. Secondly, WHAT'S WRONG WITH BEING THAT GUY???

For one thing, there are some bands who have merch that BEGS to be worn at their shows. Off the top of my head, I think of the Grateful Dead, KISS, and Iron Maiden. These are all bands who have (or have had) very distinctive merchandising concepts, and who are also known for rabid fans, which means there shouldn't be anything wrong with presenting oneself as part of the Deadheads, KISS Army, or, um, Maidenfans. To do that, you gotta fly the flag...on your chest. Case closed. Where else am I going to wear my Maiden shirt? Work? Grandma's House? No! When Maiden rolls around Chicago in June, I'm wearing my goddamn Iron Maiden 2005 tour shirt, son! And I won't be alone!

Now, when it comes to bands without a subculture, or a cool logo, or a's harder to defend. I'm a little more bashful about wearing my Queens of the Stone Age shirt to the QOTSA gig, because, in that situation, I'll look like a weird, stalkerish fan club/street team type or something to people who are being judgemental instead of enjoying the show. So, I guess I'll wear my Queens shirt to the Converge show, and since Baroness is opening for them, I'll save my Baroness shirt for when I see Mastodon and save my Mastodon for...I dunno, something else, and now I've had to actually plan when I'm going to wear which shirt to which show, thereby adding a degree of pain-in-the-assedness to something that is, at its core, all about letting it all hang out and having a good-ass time. And, really, is THAT cool??? And if so, is it that much more cool than just grabbing whatever damn shirt you want, throwing it on, and meeting up with your buddies for whatever pre-show festivities you may enjoy? Do I really have to plan every second of my life to look un-lame to Zak Penn and Adam Leff?

Who are Zak Penn and Adam Leff, you might ask? Why, they're the guys who wrote PCU, of course! Yet, you had to ask me who they were! If THEY were cool, would you have to ask me who they are? You wanna know what else these guys wrote? Zak Penn also wrote Elektra. Yes, that Elektra. Adam Leff is even better...BioDome, bitches. Boy, are these guys the birth of the cool, or what?

Let's face it, the people who truly believe this shit are probably people who listen to crap music made by people who sell boring face-on-the-front-tour-dates-on-the-back merchandise. For those of us who enjoy real rock music, good artwork is part and parcel of the experience. We like a good album cover, and we like a kick-ass shirt. And we're fans, goddammit. Fly the flag. Move along and mind your business, hipsters. Your draft of Last Action Hero isn't done yet. (guess who wrote THAT one?)

Myche adds:

Great post! It had to be said. I was once told by a girlfriend of a friend on the way to the Matter Of Life Or Death Maiden show that I was breaking the cardinal sin of coolness by wearing a Maiden shirt. I was pretty comfortable with my decision, so this did not phase me (and I really should have kicked her ass to curb since she had the audacity to say it when I was driving her ass to the show). I am a repeat offender. Guilty as charged. And I'll do it in the future, you can bet your ass on that. I do it at Queensryche, Y&T (where I even wore a shirt that I MADE, and the band loved, and one of the guys wanted me to make him one - and I did!) and Trouble shows. I'm flying my colors, plain and simple.

And let me throw this in: if I was worried about being cool all the time, I probably wouldn't want to be caught dead at some of the shows I go to! I love what's happened over the years. Back in the late 80's, everyone was really busy being tough and bad ass at shows. Now we're all a lot older and at some shows I get that "hey dude, you're still listening to these guys too?" vibe. And I think that is awesome. It's all about mutual respect...

I think maybe it's gotten to the point that people that wear a band's shirt to their show are not "that guy" anymore. I mean, doesn't it show confidence in yourself to go ahead and do this even though you know this claim is out there, everyone knows it?

It all comes full circle.

Or it really is uncool and I'm trying to justify myself.

Either way, I'm not going to stop...

Mark adds...

I am in such agreement with my fellow brothers of metal. I wear the shirts to the bands that I see because I support them. I was in that same car ride with QM and remember thinking how stupid that girl's comment was. I was wondering how many people gave her a thumbs up, or a kick ass shirt comment at the show? Does that sound like we're losers? Nope. Sorry. I am doing exactly what Wayne does. I save certain shows to wear certain shirts. If I have a show that I'm going to of a band that I dont really know yet or own any gear ( and it's called Gear, by the way...) It's a pretty good chance that I'm going to wear a Mastodon shirt. I own 4 for god's sake. If it's more agressive, I might wear a SlipKnot shirt. But you know what's funny? If I see someone with a SlipKnot shirt on, guess what? He's my brother. If nothing else we agree on, we agree on the 'Knot. Its a brotherhood. and I'm damn proud to carry the torch. I cant wait to bust out my button down maiden shirt for the concert. the one that cost me about 50 bucks to buy! It's EASILY my best shirt and I only bring it out on very important occasions. If people think I'm a dork for wearing it? That's not MY problem.

1 comment:

Leen said...

(with a Quimby accent) All hail rockin' rock concert t-shirts! I guess I can stop using the term "pre-fresh".