27 September 2011

WHAT NOT TO WEAR (to a Social D concert) Guest Commentary by Mikey Rega

Since Jeremy Piven didn't really get into great detail, I had to bring in an expert to sort this concert t-shirt mess out. Mike Rega's statement stands as the final rule regarding all future concert t-shirt disputes.

Here's the question that got the ball rolling:

Heidi wants to know the rule on wearing t-shirts to concerts within genres--specifically, wearing a Dropkick Murphys shirt to a Flogging Molly concert. Both Irish--what's the rule?

Sam and I had an argument over if it was okay to wear a Beatles shirt to the Beatles fest. . . I went with 'yes' because you weren't seeing the Beatles and it was an overall celebration of the Beatles. However, a solo Beatle shirt would be preferred. Also, you couldn't wear any of the Beatles' tribute band's t-shirts if they did indeed have a shirt. You could however wear a shirt of a Beatles tribute band that had appeared at a previous years festival, or a non-festival participating tribute band such as Rain.

There are of course caveats and exceptions to the "don't wear the shirt of the band you are going to see" rule. I believe it is acceptable to wear the shirt of the band you came to support if the band is one of many in a festival lineup. Example, a Rage shirt at Coachella, a Blues Traveler shirt at HOARD, or a Jane's Addiction shirt at Lollapalooza.

I think wearing a DKM shirt to Molly would be acceptable, unless the bands have some sort of rivalry that I'm not aware of (WILCO shirt at a Son Volt show). Might be a little obvious though. I think a Pogues shirt, a 101ers shirt, or a Street Dogs would impress more. Kind of like wearing a Styx shirt to a Kansas concert but overall same musical families.

My whole logic about bands and T-shirts comes from a scene in the movie PCU. My friend Tony violated the rule and we let him have it for like 10 years.


Also, I found this:


The comments are pretty funny.

Q: When, besides festivals, is it okay to wear a band's shirt to their concert? What if it's a vintage T? what if it is a tour shirt purchased on an older tour?

A: I believe wearing a vintage T of the band or an older tour shirt is still being "that guy" . . . It's being "that guy" to a lesser degree, but still counts. There are plenty of other T-shirt options out there and no matter how tattered with credibility your original appears, you would still be a form of "that guy".
At festivals I would have to say 5 bands or more have to be in the lineup. If you went to see Mastodon, Alice N Chains, and the Deftones (who toured together last year), it’s not appropriate to wear any of their shirts. You would wear a related Tee of the band you were there to see. If 5 or more bands with multiple/rotational headliners (outdoor venues only) are in place, go ahead and rock your Tee.

Q: Also, are there any bands that are the exception to this rule (thinking Grateful Dead for some reason) and, if yes, why?

A: I think the exceptions to this rule would be on the small scale show circuit. If you bought a shirt at a concert from a member of the band, an obvious gf or wife of a band member, or a member of the crew who has additional duties within the show, it would be appropriate to wear that t shirt to a show at a later date (you can NEVER put on the shirt you just bought . . . that’s why there are cargo pockets).

EXAMPLE: I saw the Buzz Poets at Pitt-Johnstown in the late 90’s and I bought a shirt before the show. The guy who was selling the shirts was also running sound (from the same location). It would be a judgment call to wear that shirt if you ever saw the Buzz Poets again.

Also, Back In Time Band is a perfect example. Their shirts are made in such a limited number that wearing one is showing membership to an exclusive inner circle.

Q: Also, and this the last one, what about movies or TV shows associated with a band--YELLOW SUBMARINE(supposing the Beatles were still around), THE WALL, etc? Is this a loophole?

A: I think THE WALL is too obvious, YELLOW SUBMARINE is a non-applicable perfect world scenario that would mean the Beatles are still together, and movie shirts in general are hard to find. A proper band related film could be acceptable though. If the film Tee is a concert DVD, such as PJ’s IMMAGINE IN CORNICE or Dave’s LISTENER SUPPORTED, then I’d have to go with no. If you were to wear a SINGLES shirt to PJ, or a BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE shirt to Dave, you would get mad props from the crowd for your amazingly obscure Tee. John Howard has a Citizen Dick shirt he has worn to see PJ and he always gets big ups and fist bumps from strangers.
A related record label or a geographically relevant to the band record store or bar would be a better choice of attire. One of my old neighbors in Pittsburgh was able to meet Mike McCready because he was wearing an Easy Street Records t-shirt.

Some random thoughts and specific examples:

-The T shirt rule does not apply to opening acts. It’s acceptable to wear the T shirt of the opening act if the opening act is considered obscure. You can wear a Band of Horses Tee if they are opening up for someone much larger, but not a Band of Horses Tee if they are the main act.

-It is completely acceptable to wear a Joe Grushecky shirt to see the Boss, but would be considered a slap in the face if you wore a Boss shirt to go see Grushecky.

-It is also considered acceptable to wear a Donnie Iris shirt at anytime including a Donnie Iris show; bonus points if you pull it off on the Gateway Clipper.

-I think Jay Farrar would get mad at you if you wore a WILCO shirt to see him, but Tweedy would think it’s funny if you wore a Son Volt shirt to see him. He might even rant about it.

After some research, I may have 2 exceptions to concerts where you are supposed to wear the T shirt of the band. Kiss and Iron Maiden see to be the exceptions. Unwritten rule is you are supposed to wear your oldest, most obscure, vintage band shirt to see Kiss or Maiden. Old tour shirts will gain you crowd cred while a shirt you got a Hot Topic last week will have people calling you a fag in no time.

I guess you do wear you Steeler jersey to Heinz Field . . .


  1. "You can wear a Band of Horses Tee if they are opening up for someone much larger, but not a Band of Horses Tee if they are the main act."

    I need more clarification on why this is appropriate.

  2. There is NO exception to the rule plain and simple! When in doubt, don't!

    There were 2 cases that you didn't cover that I recently experienced.

    #1. Generation disregard or naivety of "rules." I saw the Misfits last Friday with my 18 year old son and it seemed that everyone under 25 was wearing a Misfit t-shirt, face-paint, etc. Where are the repercussions? Who's calling them fags or what not? When is TV/Hollywood going to reintroduce an outline and enforce these rules!!!

    #2. The band that wears its own shirt has to be the lamest group of self-absorbed egomaniacs around. Either that or they're the biggest sell-outs whoring for the merch revenue.

    When I was in high school, it was the 'in thing' to parade around in the concert shirt the next day... it stated that you were there. It was a visual calling card to another school-mate was also there. You were acknowledged and cool. Today, with the Internet and Hot Topic, anyone can be an instant poser!

  3. From an actual conversation at the Washington DC National Zoo this weekend. . .

    "Is it ok to wear a National Zoo T shirt to the National Zoo?"

    "No, you would have to wear a shirt of another zoo, or better yet, a shirt with an animal on it".

  4. Zoos are probably a whole new can of worms. Like, can you were an Izod shirt to a zoo with alligators. Same thing with a Penguin jersey. What's the protocol here?