Good day, nerds. It’s been a while.
So. Swag. I collect a little bit of it. Band swag, I mean. You know, merch and such. Over the years I have accumulated a pretty lovely limited edition poster collection. I shell out the cash, try to keep them in decent condition throughout the gig (remember, they are limited so it’s essential to grab them before the show even starts) and bring the cumbersome bastards home. Of course they sit for a while and, eventually, wind up framed and grace the walls for everyone’s enjoyment. Badges as well. I love a good badge. T-Shirts not so much. When I was younger, yes. I still have many of them. These days the standard shirts are a little too boxy, the “ladies fit” a little too snug. When bands start cranking out a-line mini dresses with their faces splashed across the front maybe I’ll buy. Seems unlikely.
Or does it?
Let me preface this whole tirade by saying that I do own a pair of Of Montreal bikini underpants. Pink ones. Hypocritical? Probably. That being said…
I am having an unusually good summer, gig-wise. Saw more than I usually do in the warmer months. Everything will be wrapped up in a tidy bow in August at the OFF festival in Katowice, Poland. I will be camping, heaven help me. MBV, GY!BE, Deerhunter and Veronica Falls to name a few, seem worth the stinky living. I’ll keep you posted on that potential disaster. The other day, however, I saw Mr. J Mascis and his buddies melt some faces here in Munich. Seriously SO good. I was excited to read before the gig about a limited edition German tour poster available. Lovely. When I approached the merchandise girl and inquired she was like, “Sorry, there was a mix-up with the shipment and they never arrived.” Bummer. Plus she had no idea if they would EVER be available. She then pointed me in the direction of a pile of Green Mind BABY ONESIES. While I admittedly love the idea of a cooing 6-month old in such a get up, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have my size.
WHAT IS HAPPENING???
I laughed my ass off at a Justin Bieber electric toothbrush in the grocery queue a few weeks ago. I laughed almost as hard at the onesies then went and had myself some whiskey. I suppose it’s a good idea? With the average age of old-school fans roundabout that family starting age? I guess…
I don’t mean to pick on J and his entourage. J, I love you. You and your amazing guitar playing and penchant for few words. But seriously this is the most recent example I’ve noticed of what seems like merchandise-gone-amok over the last few years: in the course of a month I found that not only can I dress the baby I don’t have in a Dinosaur onesie, but I can also listen to Bug on some limited edition Skull Candy Dinosaur headphones while wearing some purple vegan suede Dinosaur desert boot sneaks (the proceeds from which DO partially go to a non-profit). Imagine that. Everything’s gone purple and green and Dinosaur-y.
When I was a kid and in the height of the Thriller days you could buy most anything with Michael Jackson’s face on it. Like anything. He and New Kids on the Block. Neither of these artists, nor any of those today the likes of which have Nickelodeon tie-ins and dolls are my bag. But Dinosaur Jr? What’s next? An MBV cookbook and chef’s hat set? A Panda Bear bicycle bell? It’s madness I tell you. MADNESS.
Was it naive of me to think that only bubblegummy popstars spin out of control on the merchandise train? I have no idea why it annoys me so much. On both sides. Maybe it’s because I assumed the bands I like couldn’t be concerned with such drivel because ‘it’s all about the music, maaaaan.’ Stupid assumption. It’s simple: everyone loves money in their pockets. I’ll be the first to admit that I long for the days of merch tables consisting of nothing but $12 t-shirts and a bucket of badges. Firstly, because I was 20 years younger with no responsibilities other than going to gigs and waking up for school in the morning. Secondly, because it was virtually impossible for me to blow 15 Euro on a pair of panties. Even I get weak sometimes.
Happy weekend, consumers.
[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]