merch table

Do's and Don'ts of Band T-Shirts

by Barry Taylor

February 26, 2010






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Every great culture has a piece of clothing associated with it. The rock culture is no different as rock t-shirts are a staple of any real music fan. In this post, Barry Taylor enlightens you on the etiquette of band t-shirts.

Every great culture has a piece of clothing associated with it. Sports have jerseys. Canadians have toques. The Scotts have kilts. And Americans have mustard stained wife beaters. Take THAT America! Your foreign policy asked for it.

The rock culture is no different as rock t-shirts are a staple of any real music fan. But as with any fashion statement there are dos and don’ts. It’s time to break down what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to band t-shirts.

First things first: where are you buying the article of clothing? There are three basic outlets for band t-shirts and each one offers various levels of quality…

1. The Merch Table at a Concert

Easily the best place to buy a band’s shirt. You know it’s authentic. You know the money is going to support the band. Plus it makes for a great memento and also doubles as a conversation starter when a sexy person approaches you and says “oh I love that band.”

2. The Record Store

An acceptable place to buy a shirt but only out of necessity. For instance, you live in a small town hours from any major city and there’s no chance of the band coming anywhere near your shitty community. Also suitable for underage shirt purchases.

3. Guy on the Street

These shady pricks are one step above ticket scalpers when it comes to concert trash. They’re no better than guys selling fake watches out of a trench coat. The shirts never fit properly and they last only two rounds through the washing machine. Avoid them like you would a guy offering candy in a van.

Now that you know where to purchase a band tee the more difficult question must be answered: When is it acceptable to wear the band t-shirt?

Here are the top 9 rules that must be followed for band t-shirts. Ten would be too obvious.

#1. Never wear a band shirt to a band’s concert

You’re making a redundant statement. You’re already at the show, it’s obvious that you like the band. Wearing the band shirt to their concert puts you in the same boat as couples that wear matching track suits. It’s awkward for everyone involved.
**the only exception is if shirt is in support of the opening band

#2. Purchasing a band shirt at a concert doesn’t trump Rule #1

Tough love on this one. It’s true, you don’t want to have to hold the shirt for the whole show but that’s what you get for going to the merch stand early; sure you beat the crowds and got your size but following that up by wearing the shirt is like handing in your assignment before it’s due. Everyone else realizes you’re more organized than the rest of us, don’t rub it in.

#3. Never wear a band shirt the day after you purchased it at a concert

Why not just put on a piece of clothing that says ‘Hey! Ask me what I did last night.” There’s nothing wrong with talking about the show with those who are interested by it’s never a good idea to remind people that you’re having more fun than them in life.

#4. Wearing a band shirt to a festival is acceptable

An ideal scenario for the band tee. When there’s a large number of bands playing it makes sense to show your support for your favourite rockers.
** This is where the sports jersey argument makes sense. Some argue that wearing a band shirt to a concert is no different than wearing jersey to a game. However, a sporting event is based on two teams competing, you cheer for one side over the other. A concert isn’t a competition, it’s a celebration. By simply attending the show you’re supporting the artist.

#5. The Ramone T-Shirt…don’t do it

To be able to pull off a Ramones t-shirt you have to be at a certain level of cool that you and I are not even close to. Put it this way: if you would feel confident in a Bart Simpson shirt go ahead and wear a Ramones Tee.

#6. CBGBs T-Shirt

See rule #5.

#7. Concert Tees are NOT the same as band Tees

Big difference here. A concert Tee has a specific tour listed on the back of the shirt with dates and cities included. These are rare gems that are the equivalent of getting a Star in Mario Kart, normal rules do not apply. Enjoy the power.

#8. You must be able to name 3 albums of the band who’s shirt you’re wearing

No one likes a bang wagon jumper. Let’s keep some integrity in the game. It’s not that you’re trying to be cooler than someone or a rock snob but had this rule been in place 10 years ago we may have never needed rule #5.

#9. Never lend a band shirt to a loved one

It’s all sweet and nice to let your significant other wear your favourite band tee but what happens when you break up? There’s certain things you can live without, the DVD player, the shower radio, their companionship but the Queens of the Stone Age shirt you got at the intimate club show in 2007 is going too far.

Tags: Music, News, Barry Taylor






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