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Blue Jeans and Band T-Shirts
October 18, 2011 8:19 PM   Subscribe

My Band T-Shirt is a new blog where people can send in photos and stories about their band shirts. The author recently talked about band shirt's importance in musical subcultures. But what are the rules of wearing a band shirt?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn (122 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always think it's a bit weird to see an artist wearing a shirt for his/her own band. Even weirder when it's a solo act.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:27 PM on October 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've been collecting concert shirts since the 1970s. I still have them all, hundreds of them. The ones which are too worn or too small to wear, I hope to get made into a quilt someday.

There are no rules for wearing a band shirt. You wear one because you want to communicate something to the world that day. That's it.

My own personal rule is, when attending a concert, always wear the shirt from the last concert I attended. This can lead to some odd looks. Like when I recently wore Soundgarden to a Duran Duran show. Or wore Nightwish to Indigo Girls.
posted by hippybear at 8:28 PM on October 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


Especially when they are wearing said shirt onstage when performing.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:28 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Exception to my comment above is Devo. But only when they're all wearing Devo shirts.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:29 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've always upheld the "You're wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see? Don't be that guy" rule, though I make an exception if it's a shirt you bought at the show or if it's a cool shirt from a much earlier tour and you were actually there. These things are complicated.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:30 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


DEVO can wear whatever they like because they rule.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:31 PM on October 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm going to quote Locke here about what to wear, "Don't tell me what i can't do!!"
I'll wear whatever i want to wear, and so should everyone else. Doing otherwise is just pretension and doucheness.
posted by usagizero at 8:32 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Band shirts have passed into 'daily wear' for me. Today it's a Bouncing Souls/Hot Water Music shirt, yesterday it was Defiance, Ohio to wear to Okkervil River, tomorrow its Gaslight Anthem to Lucero/Dropkicks. I plan on picking up a Lucero shirt there. Couldn't afford a Bat Out of Hell shirt at the show last week.

First shirt was a They Might Be Giants one I got signed by a member. Favorite is a gorgeous Drive-By Truckers one with a winged demon thing riding a motorcycle... can't find it online but its obviously by Wes Freed.

I hold to the 'don't wear the band's shirt to the band's show' rule. My fellow fans broke this at Gaslight Anthem, and then at the Social Distortion show the next day.

Exceptions to all the rules are Iron Maiden - you can wear their shirts to gigs and they can wear their own shirts. And local bands of course can wear their own shirts.

Does the 'don't be that guy' rule apply at festivals? I tend to ignore it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:35 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always think it's a bit weird to see an artist wearing a shirt for his/her own band. Even weirder when it's a solo act.

Loveburger!

Also, I know this has nothing to do with t-shirts, but do not listen to the band you're going to see while you're waiting in line. FFS, you're going to see them play those songs in a couple hours! Same goes for after the show; you just heard those fucking songs. Gosh.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 8:35 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


If its any of the new concert shirts I've seen recently... do whatever you want except put them in the dryer because they'll shrink like styrofoam cups in a hot oven.

. to my Pixies 2011 tour shirt.
posted by jeffmik at 8:35 PM on October 18, 2011


Growing up my only concert shirt rule was "don't wear the same shirt as the person I'm going to the show with". For years my friend would pick me up for a show wearing the same shirt I was wearing (we went to most of the same shows so we ended up with many of the same shirts). In every instance I changed my shirt before leaving the house. My friend never thought it was a big deal and I had to remind him "we'll be standing next together all night! We already look like dorks, that won't help anything!"

Now I think my only concert shirt rule is "make sure it still fits". Sadly, many of my faves don't.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:35 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always think it's a bit weird to see an artist wearing a shirt for his/her own band. Even weirder when it's a solo act.

What I heard is that they do that because it's hard to do laundry on tour.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:35 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not only do I wear that band's shirt at the concert, I buy a shirt when I get into the venue and put it on immediately. Screw you, rules.
posted by Huck500 at 8:36 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


My first was Oingo Boingo, Halloween, I think 1984.
posted by Huck500 at 8:40 PM on October 18, 2011


It doesn't really matter, but I generally avoid wearing band shirts at all when going to see shows. Band shirts are for daytime casual wear type situations. If I am going to see a show I AM GOING OUT, and would prefer to wear something a little fancier.



7. You may not wear a new concert t-shirt for 2 weeks (especially the next day)

... unless you went to a GWAR show and want to show off your splattered masterpiece.

Not only do I wear that band's shirt at the concert, I buy a shirt when I get into the venue and put it on immediately. Screw you, rules.

I think that's cool, actually. Bands tend to make the bulk of their money on tour in merch sales. So you are showing them tangible support and are a walking in venue ad for their merch. And that, in my book, is classy.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:40 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does the 'don't be that guy' rule apply at festivals? I tend to ignore it.

At festivals, it's actually okay to wear the shirt of the band you're going to see because there are so many other bands you'd eliminate a significant portion of your band shirt wardrobe, so it balances out the "that guy" factor. What you DON'T do is wear that festival's shirt, if only because it's usually too hot at those things to double-up on shirts.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:40 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


At festivals, it's actually okay to wear the shirt of the band you're going to see because there are so many other bands you'd eliminate a significant portion of your band shirt wardrobe, so it balances out the "that guy" factor. What you DON'T do is wear that festival's shirt, if only because it's usually too hot at those things to double-up on shirts.

Yeah, that's what I go for.

What's odd is that I don't own any festival shirts, even though almost every other Aussie concertgoer has at least one Big Day Out shirt. I'll probably grab a Harvest Festival (Bright Eyes, Flaming Lips, The National) one if the logo is good.


7. You may not wear a new concert t-shirt for 2 weeks (especially the next day)

... unless you went to a GWAR show and want to show off your splattered masterpiece


GWAR were playing a mixed metal/punk show so I wore my white Buzzcocks shirt. I still haven't washed it. Or worn it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:44 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Band t-shirts that qualify for sufficient indie-rock cred: Hot Hot Heat

NO.

Masses, apparently unaware of the rule: Nirvana

It is also a violation to wear any shirt of any band members former band or side project to the current incarnation of that band members show.


I will wear a Nirvana shirt anywhere I want, except a Foo show. Same goes for a few of those other bands on that list. And if grandpa wants to wear a Nirvana shirt, well he's probably a pretty cool grandpa showing his grandkids some good music to start with.


Shirt you can NEVER go wrong with: Wu-Tang Mothafucka!
posted by XhaustedProphet at 8:46 PM on October 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


I would have worn the Boris shirt I got at their (kickass!) show last night right away. Not only is it a beautiful design, it went perfectly with the skirt I was wearing.


3. There is a sliding scale of the obscurity of the band vs. the genre.
for example: A Tapes ‘n Tapes shirt could be worn to any rock show.



HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:48 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever I went to see da Ramones, I made sure to wear a shirt featuring whoever the previous drummer was, whether he got paid for it or not.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:49 PM on October 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


GWAR were playing a mixed metal/punk show so I wore my white Buzzcocks shirt. I still haven't washed it. Or worn it.

Here's advice for getting the GWAR out of that shirt, if you're so inclined.

I don't know how to make it more permanent. I don't think regular dye fixatives will work.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:52 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any way to get the GWAR out of a wool flatcap?

And is it possible to wear a shirt that indicates you are an actual Ramones fan?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:56 PM on October 18, 2011


When I asked a student about his shirt, he said:
"It's my best friends girlfriend's brother's band. But he's not in it any more."

Beat that, obscure hipsters!
posted by cccorlew at 8:58 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have that shirt on vinyl.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 9:01 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


First shirt: Dead Milkmen, "Beelzebubba" tour, somewhere around 1989. Also the first show I went to see.
posted by 40 Watt at 9:02 PM on October 18, 2011


My rules for wearing band shirts are "what the fuck, you want me to pay 35 bucks for that flimsy thing?" and then not buying them, so I don't have to worry about having the right one to wear to the next show. Note: this may also have something to do with the curves and the fact that women's T-shirts aren't as awesome as the unisex ones that look like they might survive a first washing but would look like a dress on me if I got one big enough to accommodate my chest.
posted by immlass at 9:04 PM on October 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wearing the shirt you bought at the show is like blasting the band's music as you're pulling into the parking lot an hour before the doors open so you can wait in line with the rest of the suckers.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:09 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of my greatest regrets in life is letting a one-night-stand wear my King Crimson Discipline tour shirt home in the morning.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:11 PM on October 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


They are all wrong. Justin Beiber FTW.

My son wears this tshirt everywhere he goes. No one can approach or even comprehend how cool that makes him. Though now he has a "Jesus is my Mr. Right" tshirt that may have displaced the Beib.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:11 PM on October 18, 2011


Any way to get the GWAR out of a wool flatcap?

Handwash with a vinegar?

Next question - "How do I get the smell of vinegar out of a wool flatcap?"
posted by louche mustachio at 9:11 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wearing a band's shirt indicates you like the band and/or the graphic designer they hired.

And is it possible to wear a shirt that indicates you are an actual Ramones fan?

Trick question. There are no actual Ramones fans.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:13 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


My first band shirt was an Op Ivy shirt, bought at a store cause otherwise I would have had to have seen them as a toddler and i lived several hundred miles from Berkeley. I may have been a little poser but I had damn good taste.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:13 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I used to be into metafilter, but now I'm into another website. You probably haven't heard of it.
posted by TheBones at 9:16 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I only wear my NOFX shirt with regular shoes. Chacos just feel so weird with it.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:18 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I browse MetaFilter in my NeoGAF shirt, and NeoGAf in my MetaFilter shirt. Laundry day's a bitch.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:19 PM on October 18, 2011


Dude, I only wear my Fugazi t-shirt, when my CRASS t-shirt is in the wash!
posted by alex_skazat at 9:20 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


there was a story going around the Questionable Content boards about a guy who slept with a girl so he'd be able to take off his Slint shirt and it wouldn't be ruined
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:23 PM on October 18, 2011


My favourite band shirt I got at a show by the French doom metal band Monarch: it has an inverted pentagram and no less than three inverted crosses. I've even worn it to work.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 9:31 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think half of my wardrobe is band tshirts, and probably half of those are Drive-By Truckers shirts. Prized possession: a bright yellow tee emblazoned with "Adam's House Cat, Basement Tour, 1990". In pink letters, no less.

First one I ever bought was The Who, from the It's Hard tour.

Most recent acquisition was Earth, which I was mildly dismayed to find out was sparkly. It hadn't looked sparkly in the dim light of the merch booth at the back of the club.

The only one I've retired is one of my favorites: a white tee with a large head shot of a grinning Dan Sartain, in black, holding a pistol to his skull, with a bright red spray erupting from the other side of his head. Beneath it it reads "I JOINED DAN SARTAIN". I don't wear it around the house because it bothers my mother. She rolls her eyes at the Dwarves shirt that proclaims "TEACH KIDS TO WORSHIP SATAN". I don't think she's noticed that the "crossbones" beneath the skull on the front are actually dildos.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:32 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am so sad I misplaced my Crystal Shit t-shirt, they were such an epic band.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:33 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I have as many t-shirts for small and defunct (double-defunct in one case) record labels as I do band shirts. I'm not sure what that says about me.
posted by aubilenon at 9:34 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Upon further reflection I'm pretty sure what that says about me is that I'm a giant nerd.
posted by aubilenon at 9:36 PM on October 18, 2011


My favorite concert shirt is my mustard-yellow R.E.M. Monster tour shirt with the dates they had to cancel crossed out. I'm afraid to wear it now, partly because of age and partly because I've nearly doubled in girth since I bought it. My last concert shirt was from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californication tour.

I just realized I haven't bought a concert shirt since the 90s.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:39 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wear my band t-shirts almost everyday in the winter. They come in so many colors it's usually easy to coordinate. The black ones get the most use, though. The Nine Inch Nails from the first Lollapalooza has held up quite well. So has the Camper Van Beethoven from the Pitch A Tent tour. Sadly, my first, Rolling Stones 1974 tour was purchased when I was a bit thinner.
posted by DaddyNewt at 9:43 PM on October 18, 2011


Q: when is it appropriate to wear a White Zombie shirt in Menlo Park, CA?
A: never. Not ever, ever in a million years you geezer.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:49 PM on October 18, 2011


All these "rules" for proper wearing of band t-shirts make me really glad I don't wear t-shirts any more, period. The closest I come to being "that gal" was when I went to see Janelle Monae open for Of Montreal and was one of the many Janelle fans in the audience who was dressed in black and white. (Completely by accident, too. That's just what was clean and worked on me that night.) Sadly, my boyfriend was not one of the Of Montreal fans in the audience wearing garishly multicolored clothes.
posted by egypturnash at 9:53 PM on October 18, 2011


The only rule is that you have to have some familiarity with the band from the shirt.

The only exception to this rule is if the band is so obscure that you don't realize it's a band shirt and no one knows to point it out.

Wait a minute... What happened to my 2007 Coachella shirt??
posted by cmoj at 9:55 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd love a Shangri-Las T-shirt.
posted by Redfield at 9:57 PM on October 18, 2011


If you can't spell kitsch, you forfeit your right to make rules.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:04 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


anyone remember a huge sociological essay about metal shirts? It might have been at Invisible Oranges. I can't seem to find it
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:06 PM on October 18, 2011


I always think it's a bit weird to see an artist wearing a shirt for his/her own band. Even weirder when it's a solo act.
posted by Slack-a-gogo


I believe that's known as, "Danzigging."
posted by George Clooney at 10:08 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


As I write this, I'm wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Hatsune Miku on it. Does that count?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:52 PM on October 18, 2011


Those "rules" are stupid. There is absolutely no reason to obey them (seriously, go down the list, and ask WHY? for each one: there is no BECAUSE), but there are plenty of reasons to break them: Wearing a shirt of the band shows, "Hey, band! I like you guys!"; wearing a shirt you just bought is a lot less hassle than carrying it around; and so on and so on.

And, I mean, it's rock and fucking roll, ferchrissakes. Rules? Really? And t-shirts. You're going to be a snob about t-shirts? For real? Fuck, man, that is sad.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:57 PM on October 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Dude, I only wear my Fugazi t-shirt, when my CRASS t-shirt is in the wash!

I thought there was a rule against washing CRASS t-shirts...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:04 PM on October 18, 2011


I once saw a guy at an Amon Amarth show wearing an Avenged Sevenfold shirt. I don't have to tell you upon seeing that how thoroughly I didn't talk to that guy.
How convenient that condescending bloggers are publishing lists of rules about what band shirts flag you as not worth talking to. So I know what shirts to buy so I can keep them away from me.

Seriously, for fuck's sake just let a guy wear a damn shirt for a band he likes, and let a guy with nowhere else to put it wear the shirt he just got from the merch table – even though he's committing the apparently cardinal sin of wearing a band's shirt at the same band's show. Lord have mercy

I know these are meant mostly in jest, but they reflect a real – and shitty – attitude that pervades live shows. This is kinda beanplating but it's like these rules and mindsets are designed to stratify fans at a show, so that jagoffs unable to enjoy anything without some kind of social caste system can shit on young or less-worldly fans who show up just excited to finally see their favorite band.

That fat guy who showed up alone to the Decemberists concert wearing his Decemberists shirt, who's looking around nervously because he's not sure where he's supposed to be standing? That guy loves his band in ways that these guys have forgotten how. I'll take him over a hundred in-jokey self-important scenemongers any damn day.
posted by churl at 11:55 PM on October 18, 2011 [40 favorites]


You can have my Curve t-shirt when you pry it out of my cold dead hands.
posted by arcticseal at 11:59 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess its the difference between just going to live shows because you like live shows and going because its part of a scene/lifestyle. Like picking out the proper/best shirt to wear to the gig is part of the fun, and talking to people who like other similar bands or even the artists themselves giving you props because they've played with that band or whatever.

But churl, what's worst is that you're RIGHT, and I feel ashamed for looking down on my fellow Gaslight fans because they wore their shirt at that gig.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:00 AM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I dunno, you're right too. I totally know the fun of picking the shirt for the show, and of running into someone wearing band A's shirt at band B's show and realizing that guy's in the same little sliver of the venn diagram as you are.
posted by churl at 12:07 AM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, before I finally shut up:
- the main link is a delight and I totally am not trying to knock the post
- Iron Maiden and Danzig get a pass on band members wearing their own shirts, because Iron Maiden and Danzig shirts are the archetypical Metal Shirts and it's basically a coincidence that they're for the bands the wearers are in
- like absolutely everything else in the world it probably just comes down to this

posted by churl at 12:27 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had this shirt and at 6'8" it looked about like that on me also
posted by pianomover at 1:16 AM on October 19, 2011


They are all wrong. Justin Beiber FTW.

My son wears this tshirt everywhere he goes. No one can approach or even comprehend how cool that makes him. Though now he has a "Jesus is my Mr. Right" tshirt that may have displaced the Beib.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:11 PM on October 18 [+] [!]



I have a Backstreet Boys tshirt i picked up at an op shop for $2 some years back, it's a shame it's a little too big and that I don't really wear tshirts all that often as it's always a fun thing to wear to gigs
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 1:34 AM on October 19, 2011


Michael Bolton T-shirt seen at the Primal Scream set at Big Day Out in January. I'm not sure whether it's original or home-made.

Does this make Michael Bolton the über-Hall & Oates, the very cutting edge of hipster irony?

(Though I think the irony race is won by the guitarist from Ringo Deathstarr rocking a NKOTB "Drugs Suck" T-shirt.)
posted by acb at 2:20 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bolton did a song with Lonely Island, so yeah some irony. He's back next year
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:38 AM on October 19, 2011


the irony race is won by the guitarist from Ringo Deathstarr rocking a NKOTB "Drugs Suck" T-shirt

NKOTB already won the irony race when in their first video clip, one of the band was wearing a Bauhaus t-shirt.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:55 AM on October 19, 2011



NKOTB already won the irony race when in their first video clip, one of the band was wearing a Bauhaus t-shirt.


That only works as irony if one assumes that Bauhaus is more mainstream/less credible than NKOTB. I'm guessing that it was either a case of the NKOTB member having more alternative musical taste than required for his day job, or their stylist getting a bit creative and "out there".
posted by acb at 3:11 AM on October 19, 2011


Irony is just a disjoint between expression & reality, so it's ironic that a member of a schmaltzy manufactured boypop band would be wearing the t-shirt of a band that was arguably the main progenitor of an entire alternative post-punk scene.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:40 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didn't jonmc get married wearing a band shirt?
posted by eriko at 4:20 AM on October 19, 2011


I had a Swans shirt and it rotted and fell apart like something in one of their songs and then maggots came out of it and the maggots looked at me.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:43 AM on October 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


I hid behind my Shihad t-shirt when I was pregnant for the last 5 months or so. Lately, I've taken to wearing it again. That's because I'm fat! Also, I like the band. I look like a 70's era bevan aka bogan but I don't go shopping in it, so that's something.
posted by h00py at 4:47 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just realized I've never had a band shirt, despite attending a number of live shows back when I was a yoot. (I was always broke, so by the time I paid to get in I was out of money, most likely.) And a band shirt isn't something I'd buy at a store.

Maybe it's time to start...anyone want to trade some vintage MS freebie shirts (for things like Encarta and V-Chat and innumerable internal products) for some band shirts?

Or do I have a future as a hipster if I wear my vintage MS gear in public?
posted by maxwelton at 4:49 AM on October 19, 2011


I had a Swans shirt and it rotted and fell apart like something in one of their songs and then maggots came out of it and the maggots looked at me.

The same thing happened to me! Was yours also from the Soundtracks for the Blind tour? I felt that the maggots in mine were specifically Dutch because of their poor dress sense & fondness for fritjes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:53 AM on October 19, 2011


Neat story - whilst in college, I would often sport my Dead Kennedys "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" shirt about town. I lived next door to a Methodist minister whom I actually quite liked (he and his family were very nice and often had my girlfriend and me over for dinner), and I would always try to cover the offending words up when I saw him. He obviously noticed, and finally said to me one day - "Don't worry about the shirt. I think nazi punks should fuck off as well." And then we had brandy.
posted by tr33hggr at 5:06 AM on October 19, 2011 [14 favorites]


You should totally wear the tshirt of the band you're going to see!
posted by Tom-B at 5:10 AM on October 19, 2011


I had a Swans shirt and it rotted and fell apart like something in one of their songs and then maggots came out of it and the maggots looked at me.

You guys need to bury them in black sand.
posted by Flashman at 5:18 AM on October 19, 2011


The same thing happened to me! Was yours also from the Soundtracks for the Blind tour?

Naw, for Filth, I ordered it from Jarboe, she sent it along with a nice postcard saying thanks. I didn't get to go to no Swans gig, they came to Australia for the first time ever a few months ago but cancelled their Brisbane show but that didn't matter because I didn't hear about the tour anyway until after it had gone despite being on their mailing list. Every rereleased Banhart brainfart got a ten page email from Gira but when Swans - the whole reason Young God Records and by extension the Young God Records mailing list exists - goes on tour in Australia for the first time? Nothing.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:19 AM on October 19, 2011


Years ago on the Bauhaus Resurrection tour (1998), I wore a Bauhaus t-shirt that I bought from a thrift store in England in the early 80's. My t-shirt was older than many of the concert-goers. A Bauhaus t-shirt is always appropriate.
Kids, lawn, etc. (undead undead undead)
posted by biscotti at 5:25 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Once they have matured to a fine level of washed out faded greyness they can be posted and coveted on: http://tshirtslayer.com/
posted by zog at 5:29 AM on October 19, 2011


I had a 'Sweet' shirt when I was 10. I wore it a lot. The transfer just eventually peeled off.
posted by h00py at 5:38 AM on October 19, 2011


Each of the rules links should end with "But most importantly, don't have fun."
posted by drezdn at 5:41 AM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


drezdn: Each of the rules links should end with "But most importantly, don't have fun."

Part of the fun of being a nerd about something is making rules, debating the rules, and adjusting the rules. And then making exceptions for yourself when you violate your own rules.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 5:46 AM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


My own personal rule is that I don't wear a band t-shirt for the band that I'm seeing unless the shirt is very old, and all of the bands I have shirts for that would qualify are either in indefinite hiatus, broken up, or are Radiohead. Some shirts I wear because I feel that the aesthetic is right for the show, but I never, ever field attention of any kind because of the shirt that I am wear, and subsequently wonder if I have been doing something wrong.
posted by koucha at 5:52 AM on October 19, 2011


Add me to the chorus of people thinking, 'what?'. First off, you might be wearing a band's shirt because they are your favoritest band. The shirt might be cool. The shirt or the concert might be rare enough that you actually want to wear it at a concert. Or you might either not care about the fashion police (of band tshirts, haw!) or do it exactly because of such rules. People having personal preferences is fine by me (I do too), but thinking of them as rules is silly.
posted by ersatz at 5:56 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


ctrl-f Your favorite band shirt sucks.
posted by bitslayer at 5:59 AM on October 19, 2011


Slack-a-gogo, making rules can be fun, but in my personal experience, too often things like this are used to ostracize and divide. Anything that separates people into cool and uncool rubs me wrong.
posted by drezdn at 6:05 AM on October 19, 2011


Nothing keeps the spirit of rock and roll alive like granular rules about what t-shirt you can or can't wear.
posted by mhoye at 6:09 AM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I too have an anecdote that conveys my hipness and/or romanticized youthful escapades.
posted by reverend cuttle at 6:15 AM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bolton did a song with Lonely Island, so yeah some irony. He's back next year

Is Bolton still working with Kenny G?
posted by acb at 6:20 AM on October 19, 2011


LiB just trolling with those last 5 links.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:21 AM on October 19, 2011


Most rock'n'roll rules have one or two exceptions. It's not rocket science. Of course rock'n'roll is about freedom, but not to freedom to be a drag. A few rules are good, just to help everybody from looking like total prats and bringing rock'n'roll down overall.

For instance, no wearing shorts onstage. Exception: Angus Young.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:21 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


not *the* freedom
posted by stinkycheese at 6:22 AM on October 19, 2011


First concert t-shirt was from Stompin' Tom. Had "I STOMPED ALONG WITH STOMPIN' TOM" on the back. Signed, motherfuckers. Every girlfriend I've ever had has tried to steal it from me. I've seen them all off.

Best concert t-shirt experience was from Leonard Cohen's tour in '93. I never wore it, just shoved it in the closet. I pulled it out in 2008 to wear it for the first time at his first concert in Montreal in fifteen years. That fucker was pristine. It looked fantastic. Oh, the jealousy...

It takes a lot to establish dominant cred among Cohen fans, but to do it instantly, demonstrably? In Cohen Central? That's some sweet nectar.

You can bury me in that thing.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:47 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I personally tend not to wear the shirt of a band playing because it makes me feel like a dork, but I don't give a damn what anyone else does. That said, I made an exception to my rule recently, and I think it's a perfectly fine exception that should be codified in The Rules for anyone who gives a shit about them:

When you're going to see a band you've been a fan of for years, and have seen as a headliner many times, but now they're old and less popular and they're actually opening for a band you don't much care for with a much younger audience... it's totally cool to wear the opening band's shirt, to let the whippersnappers (and the band) know why you're really there. (And to help strike up conversations with other old-school fans).

I think "opening bands" may be a general fuzzy case, actually.
posted by jammer at 6:49 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


While we're clarifying the concert rules: Is it OK to wear the giant foam hand of the band you're seeing, or should you wait until you're seeing another band to wear it? I'm never quite sure when it's appropriate to break out the foam horns.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:01 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to work in a record store. There was this high school kid, all pimply and greasy haired that would come in week after week and ask if we had the God of Fuck tee-shirt. (marylin manson maybe?)

The only band shirt I have retired is a Rolling Stones classic tongue logo from the Steel Wheels tour. It's threadbare to the point that its see through. My all time favorite though is a Janes Addiction one from the Nothings Shocking tour.
posted by Sailormom at 7:08 AM on October 19, 2011


I went to see Slayer last fall wearing a shirt that i bought from their 1991 Clash of the Titans tour where they played with Megadeth and Anthrax. During the pre show tailgating heavy metal parking lot festivities, a group of young heshers in denim vests and dirty white high tops came up to me and asked in hushed tones, "Dude...is that a bootleg shirt?" "No, I bought it at the show." Before you kids was born. That is when I realized I was OLD.
posted by medeine at 7:33 AM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


My personal rule for wearing a band T-Shirt is "if the band gave it to me and asked me to wear it while running the soundboard or selling merch, I'll wear it, but if it's not XLT, it might not be the advertisement for the merch that you hope it is."

Not wearing a size that's available from the merch table makes it difficult to wear band shirts generally.

My favorite band shirts were two from a band I actually did a mini-tour with. They special ordered my size for me and also got me a polo and a long-sleeved T (for Chicago in February).

My favorite band merch is logo-emblazoned pint glasses. They are appropriate whenever you're drinking pints...
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:02 AM on October 19, 2011


New rule: If you crash at my place, stay up late drinking with my friends while I'm trying to sleep in the other room, and then pass out and vomit in my closet, you are NOT allowed to take my Velvet Underground t-shirt when you go. Even if it is really yours.

It's a very specific rule, but I've found it necessary.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:24 AM on October 19, 2011


I made some really great Current 93 t-shirts using silk screen facilities in my high school's art room.

I wish I had even one, still. Ah well. Terra tegit terram.
posted by everichon at 8:32 AM on October 19, 2011


The ones which are too worn or too small to wear, I hope to get made into a quilt someday.

I did this! Highly recommended.

Not in the quilt: My first band t-shirt, from junior high, the Toy Dolls, which I still wear. I will stop wearing it when it gets me arrested. Which is probably not far off.
posted by *s at 8:37 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


A couple of my favorite band t-shirts:

* a fake campaign t-shirt for Darnielle/Vanderslice 2004. It said something like "A Less Totally Fucked America" - damned if I can find it (Mike!) - a lot of people looked at that one b/c: 1) fucked; 2) hey, that guy likes the Mountain Goats!; 3) hey, that guy is mocking the presidential election which is serious business!

* a bootleg Fugazi t-shirt that says "you are not what you own" on the back. I liked the fact they didn't care if people sold bootleg t-shirts. or so i believed.

* black Nirvana shirt with Picasso's "Massacre in Korea" from the benefit concert for the Tresnjevka Woman's Group. really memorable show for me at the Cow Palace.

I used to really like splurging on a concert t-shirt when I was younger (man, I can think of a lot of bands where I was like "$20? ... nah" but now I wish I'd pulled the trigger, of course), but I moved on to dollar-bin finds a decade or so ago. The last few times I was tempted were Radiohead and The National, which shows how old I am.

The ones which are too worn or too small to wear, I hope to get made into a quilt someday.

I did this! Highly recommended.


Awesome. Thanks for the inspiration. I have a very large dollar-bin t-shirt collection with some classic imagery, brands, and kitsch; and washing has started to take it toll. I almost sewed them into a shade structure for burning man years ago. A quilt would be very cool.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:44 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have an entire drawerful of band shirts I haven't worn in over a year, because of my job's dress code. So, I only wear a couple that I feel I can get away with. So, the Kampfar shirt where the band logo is drawn as a bunch of forest creatures that also accidentally look like Ewoks? Fine. The Darkthrone shirt with the upside down pentagram and vampires on it? Not fine.

I'm still keeping them, for if/when I get a job with a more lax dress code again.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:51 AM on October 19, 2011


They are all wrong. Justin Beiber FTW.

I remember in 1993, I was in a 3x3 street basketball tournament in Mid-Michigan, and we decided to wear matching T-shirts, replete with hearts and pink 90210 logo, of Jason Priestly for our uniform. When I was in my 20s, I used to wear a t-shirt that said "40 ... but with the body of a 39-year-old." Kitsch never fails to amuse.

Once they have matured to a fine level of washed out faded greyness they can be posted and coveted on: http://tshirtslayer.com/ sold in Hollywood vintage stores at ridiculous markups.

Seriously, there is good money in old concert t-shirts if you can find nostalgic poseurs with money.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:57 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think my favorite band tee is the Mass Psychosis one that I hardly ever wear because it has a naked zombie lady with maggots spilling out of her and says "Mass Fuckin' Psychosis" on the back. So obviously it's only suitable for very special occasions such as weddings. However, the nice thing about it is that I was given it gratis because I told off the dude who was hassling the girl at the merch table.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:59 AM on October 19, 2011


Yes, social rules are silly and have no basis in actual things, really. They're just complicated, usually unacknowledged semiotics of various subcultures that are designed to exclude outsiders.

As such, I figure that someone going to the trouble to write down those rules and make them available is a generous, egalitarian thing.

And now it's Gramma's Story Time!

When I was thirteen years old, my family moved halfway across the country two weeks before I had to start high school, in a vastly different culture. I'd changed schools a couple of times before, so I knew how convoluted and wildly different cultural norms could be.

My mom took me to an orientation before school started, where I was assigned an older girl as a 'mentor,' so I asked her for some general rules and guidelines about what to wear and such. She responded with a well-meaning and entirely useless speech about how inclusive high school culture was, and how I should 'express myself' and just do whatever I wanted to or some garbage like that. All I wanted to know was what I could wear to sort of fly a little under the radar for a while, while I figured things out for myself.

Like I said, I'm sure she meant well, and she probably was also so immersed in the culture there that she couldn't really articulate the rules, or maybe even recognize how arbitrary they were.

So I did my level best to dress in the most neutral way I could, based on my prior experiences. Which translated, in this different culture, to "weird stoner kid." My first friendly social interaction at that school was with a smelly guy named Roach who pursued me pretty aggressively.

So, you know, those speeches about how people should just do whatever they want to, and proclamations that there are no rules are well-meaning, and they're nice to think about and all, but they're also not realistic. There are rules, even if they're stupid; and it's nice that there are people who are willing to sit down and try to write them all out like that so they're accessible to outsiders and other dorks, who can then make a conscious choice about what to take and what to leave.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:04 AM on October 19, 2011


I stopped wearing my Exploited 'Punks(sic) Not Dead' shirt (that I got in about '87 at a show at Fenders in Long Beach, CA where skinheads and a bunch of gang members were fighting and knocking each other out) when I saw a kid about 12 years old wearing it sometime in the late 90s... you weren't there, you stupid kid!

Also, it fell apart.
posted by Huck500 at 10:15 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Was Marc Bolan the first person to wear his own t-shirts on stage? Surely shirts with his own face on them, at least.

That little piece from 2002 is kind of painful, with its list of cool band shirts to wear that is so terribly Buzz Bands of 2002 plus the author's random pet bands (how about you leave the Knitters out of this?). These are the kinds of rules you should never pay attention to if you didn't arrive at them yourself. They will only constrict you and make you sad and cement in your mind that some random person around you will find one or more of your choices stupid but who knows which ones so you'd better check all of them all the time. Then you have to watch yourself around everybody and worry that the people you meet whose rules you think you're observing will drop you if you do something gauche. This is like the opposite of how to live. Hard to put that genie back in the bottle, though.
posted by Adventurer at 10:38 AM on October 19, 2011


NKOTB already won the irony race when in their first video clip, one of the band was wearing a Bauhaus t-shirt.

But it was Jonathan Knight! He's the quiet, mysterious one! The one who dated Tiffany!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:47 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Trivia: The UK metal band Trojan decided to add a metal umlaut to their name, inadvertently making their band t-shirts a fun gift for Swedes, as "Tröjan" is Swedish for "The Sweater".
posted by martinrebas at 11:39 AM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


As i have, personally, evolved beyond any sense of pride in my own comportment in these matters, i find that my concern is simply for the next generation, who have to learn that nonconformity is best expressed by following rules such as these.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:16 PM on October 19, 2011


Wearing the shirt you bought at the show is like blasting the band's music as you're pulling into the parking lot an hour before the doors open so you can wait in line with the rest of the suckers.

You say that like it's a bad thing. Of course, I went to a lot of Rush concerts.

And about the Rule #7 above, back in high school (when I bought most of my band t-shirts), we always wore the shirt to school the next day. By "we," I mean "everybody."

First band shirt: Ted Nugent, State of Shock tour, 1979.

First shirt that cost more than the ticket: Jeff Beck, There and Back Tour, 1980. (Ticket $10, shirt $12).

Favorite/Personal Coolest shirt: King Crimson, Beat tour, 1982.
posted by marxchivist at 12:35 PM on October 19, 2011


My own rule for wearing band t-shirts is: if I've found it in a thrift store and it isn't too ugly and it fits well and I like the music (or, if I don't, the design is appealing enough to not care) then I'll wear it. I probably wouldn't wear a band's t-shirt to see that band (but I can imagine circumstances where I might: very small venue, knew the performers, thought it was funny, all of the above), but so far I've never been faced with that decision.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:37 PM on October 19, 2011


My t-shirts(band shirts among them) (it's way the fuck out of date)
posted by jonmc at 1:56 PM on October 19, 2011


My first concert t-shirt circa 1983.
posted by vespabelle at 2:07 PM on October 19, 2011


*s just got MeFi spoused by me solely on the basis of that t-shirt quilt.
posted by hippybear at 2:37 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think "opening bands" may be a general fuzzy case, actually.

Yeah that's a big one. Like tonight's Dropkicks/Lucero, and I'm mostly there for Lucero and I wish I had some way to make that fact plain.

BTW, not a band shirt but I saw somebody wearing a Yankees jersey at the last festival Dropkicks played. Not the smartest man....

As for the 'rules', its more that every subculture likes to have things that they BS about, like 'hardcore vs casual gamers' and whatnot. Nobody takes it seriously, but if you go too so many shows that you start defining yourself by that than its fun to talk about it. I think the implication is that people who wear the band's shirts are new to the 'scene'.

There's also a big identifier thing. At Meat Loaf i saw one Defiance Ohio shirt and one old school punk shirt, which meant... something, I guess. Most diverse shirts were at Bowie.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:03 PM on October 19, 2011


I dunno. I just don't get why people would wear the shirt of a band who wasn't playing. It makes about as much sense as wearing an Expos cap to the World Series.

Just seems a bit wanky.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:57 PM on October 19, 2011


The number of people wearing Dropkick shirts at the Dropkick Murphys show is made up for by the girl in the Green Lantern shirt.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:58 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


[derail]
The number of people wearing Dropkick shirts at the Dropkick Murphys show is made up for by the girl in the Green Lantern shirt.
I go to school at UMass Boston. There's a guy in one of my classes who -- I shit you not -- has a Dropkick Murphys tee for every day of the week. I can't decide if this is impressive or frightening.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:25 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a guy in one of my classes who -- I shit you not -- has a Dropkick Murphys tee for every day of the week.

Oh, man, I have bands I can do this with, too. Carbon Leaf, Indigo Girls, Pearl Jam, U2, Nine Inch Nails... Funny how they're all the bands I've seen the most times.

(I can actually go two weeks on Indigo Girls shirts. Is that wonderful, or embarrassing? Hard to tell sometimes.)
posted by hippybear at 4:30 AM on October 20, 2011


It's embunderful.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:01 AM on October 20, 2011


It makes about as much sense as wearing an Expos cap to the World Series.

Makes total sense if you are (were) an Expos fan. Why not?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:45 AM on October 20, 2011


I go to school at UMass Boston. There's a guy in one of my classes who -- I shit you not -- has a Dropkick Murphys tee for every day of the week. I can't decide if this is impressive or frightening.

There are local bands I've seen upwards of 10 times. Hell last night was my third time seeing Dropkicks and I'm not even a big fan. So I'm kinda impressed. Only reason I didn't buy every shirt the last time my fave bands toured is because I was broke.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:20 PM on October 20, 2011


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