Monday, September 14, 2009

The Concert T-Shirt Rule

Anyone that knows me - and I mean, really knows me - knows that I take pride in maintaining a certain standard of social self awareness. My biggest pet peeve on the planet is when you are in a public setting and someone is clueless or in your way and they have NO IDEA that they're in your way.

When I walk into a store, I legitimately case the joint up and down. I need to know where each department is, who seems to be the quickest chashier, and where the bathroom and exits are.

Basically, I channel my inner Danny Ocean.

When I'm driving on the road, I'm constantly scanning in front and back of me to see who and what is around me. Who is going too fast? Who is going too slow? And who is just an absolute menace to society? I know what lane I'm going to be in and who I'm going to have to pass to get there three minutes before I ever do it.

My personal philosophy is that if you want to be a moron, feel free to do it in the comfort of your own home (you better believe I do), but when you close your front door behind you, the other 6 billion people on earth are kind of depending on you to be on your best behavior so that no one gets hurt.

Or more importantly, so that you don't inconvenience me.

All of that said, I have to admit that I've had a social blind spot that I've just recently been made aware of.

Did you know that when you go to a concert, you're not supposed to wear a t-shirt of the band you're going to see?

Sorry, I didn't.

Yeah, not only is this an actual social thing, apparently it's a major social law among the concert set.
But it doesn't seem like everyone's playing by the rules.

I first found out about it two years ago when my then-Girlfriend (now Wife), buddy Paul, his girlfriend at the time, and I were planning to go to The Killers show outside Washington D.C.

I was so excited about seeing the band for the first time that I ordered a Killers t-shirt about a week before the show and was anxiously awaiting it's arrival so that I could wear it to the show. I breathed a sigh of relief when the shirt arrived in the mail the day before the concert only to have my Girlfriend say that I couldn't actually wear it to the show.

"Why?" I said.

"Because no one does," she responded.

"Ok. I'm gonna go with 'why?' again," I replied.

"You just don't."

As much as I appreciated and trusted her extensive explanation, I needed a second opinion; so I called up Paulie.

"Dude, no!" he shouted before I could even get the question out.

Now I should interject here that I do come from a sports background where you wear as much of your own team's gear to their game as possible.

So why should a music concert be any different?

For some reason, I just let the topic go at that time (rare for me, I know). I didn't wear the shirt to that concert but I've never been able to entirely lay the matter to rest in my brain in the time since.

It came up again on its own last weekend when my buddy Shareef and I went to the Weezer/Blink 182 concert out here in Denver to kick off our week of concerts (we did that one last Sunday and then My Wife and Aarron joined us for The Killers show at Red Rocks on Wednesday night).

Quick side tangent: I was listening to Weezer in the mid-90's and Blink in the late 90's, early 00's when I was a late teen and in my early 20's (I was the PERFECT age for those bands and PS - I'm going to go with "00's" when referring to this past decade and it will be henceforth pronounced as: "oh-oh's". Everyone on board with this?) It's now 2009 and I'm 29 years old.

I only present those facts because the concert was completely littered with teenagers.

Going back to our math before, even if you are 18 years old now in 2009, you were only eight in 1999. I can promise you that these kids weren't listening (or at least shouldn't have been listening) to Blink and I will bet my life that they had no clue what a Weezer was.

So why were they at my concert?

Regardless, Shareef and I couldn't help but notice that the majority of these teenagers were all wearing the same Blink 2009 Tour t-shirt. Thinking that it HAD to be some free give-away, we even went back to the front gate to check it out.

Nope. Just a bunch of kids dropping $30 on the same t-shirt and wearing it at the concert.

Since the perfect opening had presented itself, I asked Shareef his feelings on the subject.

"Ew. You don't do it," he said.

So now three people had confirmed that you aren't supposed to do it but I still didn't have a good reason why.

I floated my sports background rationale to him and Shareef gave me the best answer to date:

"Your band isn't playing against another band," he explained. "You wear your team's colors to show your support for that team in the competition.

"Everyone knows you like the band," he added. "You're already here, you don't have to advertise it.

Great answer.

As we kept talking about it, we each sent out mass texts to a bunch of our musically-inclined/concert-savy friends and the responses were basically unanimous (only one pro-wearing the band's shirt reply and it was using the same sports logic as I had previously held to).

Here are some of the better texts we got back:

"It's redundant"

"Never... it is cooler to be wear ANOTHER band's tshirt to a concert"

And my personal favorite:

"You don't want to be THAT guy"

Just when I was finally feeling some peace on the matter, we witnessed one of the most despicable acts I have ever seen.

The 16-year old kid sitting right in front of us took off the t-shirt he was wearing, put on the same Blink 182 that everyone else was wearing, and then donned a backward Boston Red Sox hat as a cherry on this disgusting social faux pas sundae.

Well, at least he was wearing a Boston hat while we were at a concert in Denver.

So I think I fully understand this social rule and am finally completely on-board and up-to-speed. I didn't wear my Killers t-shirt to the show this past Wednesday and as we all got in the car to drive up to Red Rocks, I threw in the "Sam's Town" cd and was ready to rock out on the way to the show.

"Umm... you can't listen to the cd of the band you're going to see," my Wife said.

Frantically, I looked back to Shareef sitting in the back seat.

"Yeah man," he confirmed. "Can't do it."



asblogismywitness said...

i figured you'd want to wear a shirt based on the support system followed in sports when i first received your text. It's just one of those weird things. Wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see seems like someone feeling as if they don't feel secure enough (or cool enough) about the band already that they feel they need to tell everyone that they love them. I mean, buying bands shirts ( and other merch) is awesome because that's one of the biggest money makers they have, but wearing a band's t-shirt to their own concert is just douche-tastic.

Just Being Josh said...

Just got the following email response from VA-Pilot columnist Mike Gruss (and I AGREE!!!):

Agree on the concert T-shirt. A strong disagree on the music beforehand, which I call “cramming.” Cramming involves listening to as much of the artists catalog as you own in the days leading up to a concert. Hard core cramming involves compiling a playlist of the artist’s 10-15 most popular songs on iTunes, then putting these tracks on heavy rotation. After all, these are the songs you are most likely to hear and the songs that will make up the majority of the show.

So why cram? Because nothing is worse that going to a concert, hearing a song, in this case we’ll call it “Handshake Drugs” by Wilco, and thinking nothing of it at the time. But then, months later, you find yourself more intimately involved with the artist’s catalog and say “You know what’s an awesome song ‘Handshake Drugs?’ Wish I could hear it live sometime.” But upon reviewing setlists the scary realization hits you, you HAVE heard it live and did not appreciate it at all. Concert fail!

This is why cramming before a concert is necessary, so no good song goes unappreciated in the future.

willmcdougal said...

On the listening to the CD before the show topic... if you aren't a big enough fan to A. Know all the important songs before you bought the ticket or B. Appreciate a song MORE because you heard it first live, then you shouldn't be going to the show.

On another note, I saw a car last summer with these stickers:

1. UNC
2. Cowboys
3. Red Sox

Biggest douchebag ever.

Katie said...

Here is the difference between being a sports fan and a music fan. I have friends who have been fans of the same team there whole life (they have baby pics in sports hats/uniforms). Often it is because its a family thing or a where you are from thing. So its ok to be a (insert sports team here) fan your whole life and pass it down to your kids. Music is different. What is "cool" and "in" right now changes so fast. I think alot of people are scared to be labeled a die-hard (insert band here) fan because it means they can't adapt to ever changing trends. Also, as you point out music tastes evolve with age (not so much with sports). Could it be that music fans feel like losers if they are too much of a mega-fan (ie wearing a t-shirt to the concert) vs. the fact that it is cool to be one in sports?

Katie said...

P.S. Isn't it weird that its not cool in the sports world to jump your getting on different bandwagons...but it is cool to change your music tastes as new stuff comes out and old stuff becomes "oldies."

Anonymous said...

Totally agree Jesse,
I will put a disclaimer on the music for the show thing, if you dont know some of the bands that will be there like the opening band or something I think its appropriate to just familiarize yourself with their songs so that when your at the show you know whats going on. But for a band like the KILLERS that I have memorized everyword to all of their songs and have seen in concert before I dont listen to the music in the car on the way because they are going to make everything better live and I want it to feel fresh and new even though Ive heard it in my itunes 1800 times.
Oh and my shirt theory is that you dont do it because you just dont. End of story.


The Triumphant Return of Paulie Walnuts said...

Great stuff as always my friend. Gotta agree with Summer; there is no reason or rationale. You just don't do it (although Ross probably had the best hypothesis I have ever heard on the subject). I never learned or was told about it. I just knew. As basic as the reason we don't pick our nose (not really that big of a deal when you think about it, but a first class ticket to loserville if you get busted knuckle deep). You just don't do it. Not something I think about or ponder. Just would never cross my mind to do it. Other band shirt is totally legit, as is the 'I just bought this shirt and will proudly display it slung over my shoulder' look.

The listening to band's CD on the way is totally taboo, but I do it all the time for the simple fact that I can't get busted. But I would never do it if my brother or Sam was in the car. I like getting amped up for a show, especially if it's a fav like the Killers. For a band like Radiohead with a massive catalog, I wouldn't. I just sit back and wait to see what I get.

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