An examination of the band’s T-shirt etiquette: It’s…complicated.
[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
Trouble started as soon as Roz showed up for a round of drinks before a New Order gig. She appeared at the table wearing a vintage “New Order Substance 1987” t-shirt. Julia was the first to jump.
“Not cool!” she exclaimed, appalled. “Shirt-to-show faux pas! You’re not supposed to wear a band’s t-shirt to a concert featuring that band! That’s terrible form. Looks like you’re trying too hard. Beginner! You have to go home and change.
Roz was puzzled. “What? I can’t show my years of support and love for the band? I’ve kept this 30 year old T-shirt in mint condition especially for nights like this!
They both looked at me. Where am I in the shirt-to-show debate? I stammered something non-committal but was saved by the people at the next table who had opinions to voice the question – and on both sides. Then the waitress got involved. An hour later, nothing was resolved but at least no tables were knocked over.
It turns out there are a series of (mostly) unwritten rules about when to wear band t-shirts, who can wear them, and why. Proper etiquette has never been standardized, which means it’s easy to go against someone’s interpretation of these rules.
First, some facts about these shirts.