Is it wrong to wear a band shirt to their concert?

Welcome to another installment of Ask A Music Critic! And thanks to everyone who sent me questions. Please keep them at [email protected]

I am really excited about the return of live music. But there is one thing about concert culture that I don’t really understand: why is there a stigma against wearing a band t-shirt at a concert given by this band? How did this taboo start and do you agree with it? – Jamie from Philadelphia

I’ve been asked this question many times over the years, and to be honest I don’t know how this unwritten rule started. But I understand the reasoning behind it, and I think it’s really, really blowing up.

Before continuing, it should be noted that the “no band shirt at band show” rule does not apply to all genres and music scenes. Go to a metal show and you will see dozens of people representing the band on stage. In some musical subcultures, a band shirt is an expression of identity and pride; sure you would represent Iron Maiden or Metallica in the presence of other members of your tribe at a concert. The concert is the only place where your metal fan is accepted and normal. Not wearing a group shirt is what seems odd.

However, in the field of independent culture – where the impression that you are trying too hard has always been a magnet for mockery – it seems that this unwritten rule still has some influence. The idea (I think?) Is that wearing band merchandise when you’re already at the band gig suggests that your whole personality cares about that band and that (I guess?) It’s kind of pathetic. Like I said: This really, really blows!

Regarding the origin story of the rule, the most quoted explanation I have heard is the 1994 brotherly comedy. PCU, in which Jeremy Piven plays the party guy de rigueur on a campus overrun with political correctness. (Considering how the medium could easily be applied to 2021, I’m perversely curious to review UCP for the first time since the 90s, when it was looping on Comedy Central. Then again, I didn’t have a life back then and luckily I have one now, so that would probably be a colossal waste of time.) In the movie, there’s a scene in which Piven scolds another guy. of the party (played by Jon Favreau, who sports some really ghastly dreadlocks) about wearing a band shirt to a band gig that night.

“Don’t be that guy,” Piven pleads.

Now, if it is true that this unwritten rule has its origin UCP – or at least was popularized by the movie – I think we can all understand the ridiculousness of taking “cool” notes from a ’90s C-list comedy. What universe is Jeremy Piven considered to be in? a referee of acceptable concert etiquette? Who in the world wants to be considered “Piven-esque”?

I must add that I am not convinced that we can blame UCP entirely for that. We’re talking about a movie that grossed $ 4.3 million in total when it first hit theaters. Even with the home video and all that Comedy Central tricks I’m not sure UCP has enough cultural imprint to implant such a pervasive taboo on live music culture. Sadly there are a lot of judgments, funny hate, Piven-esque people who for decades also projected enough influence that the rest of us didn’t feel safe wearing a damn shirt to a damn show.

Here’s what I’m thinking: When you go to a show, no one cares what you’re wearing. If there’s one quality that all humans share, it’s that we’re all too withdrawn to think about shirts on strangers’ backs. As with all of these Pivens, just remember that these people really despise each other too. This self-loathing is what they mainly focus on. So, ignore them and wear what you dig.

I thought a lot about the cover around Olivia Rodrigo Sour since you recently discussed it on Indiecast. I was taken aback by the critics at the time (Stereogum said “this is your transition to indie rock”, Pitchfork recently said that Paramore’s evolution can be best heard in “Good 4 U”). But it’s pretty clear that she / someone on her team snatched the whole image for the album launch from an actual band, Pom Pom Squad, in addition to co-opting pop punk buzzwords / wider indie rock. Sour is a useful pop album. But it’s a pop album. The songs are pop songs, performed by a Disney pop star. What are your thoughts here? – Alex from New York

Hey Alex, let me talk to Olivia Rodrigo Sour specifically first, and then the question of the appropriation of indie-rock (is that the right way to put it?) by pop stars more generally.

Regarding Sour, I think I’m with you in thinking some of the reviews have been a bit hyperbolic. For me, the album culminates early on with the opening track, “Brutal”, which is a really fun pop-punk song worth mentioning. Can’t get enough of this trail. The rest of Sour is solid – I’ll go beyond “fixable” – but it doesn’t have the same personality as that stellar first track. “Driver’s License” might be a real pop phenomenon, but I find it overworked and even nagging. However, because Rodrigo is so young, I’m curious to see where she’s going and I think her second album could really be a big step forward.

Regarding the charge that she “stole” her number from Cheerleaders, Illuminati Hotties and other lesser-known indie groups, I have two thoughts: (1) I don’t know about it; (2) I don’t care.

At the risk of falling into the critical cliché here, it is simply a matter of fact that popular music is built on borrowing (i.e. stealing) ideas from other people and then their own twist. If the audience likes it, you win. And you should win! Because execution matters! Reaching people matters! (This is based on the assumption that Olivia Rodrigo actually borrowed from Pom Pom Girls and didn’t just tap into the well of adolescent pop-punk angst that has been around for decades. a pretty important assumption by the way! after all, it’s not like cheerleaders invented the wheel here.)

This might be a boring take if you love Pom Pom Girls and dislike Olivia Rodrigo because you believe Rodrigo is a big footed PPG. I would respond by suggesting that an ecological musical system benefits from having bridge artists. I don’t think there’s a credible argument that if Olivia Rodrigo didn’t exist, Cheerleaders would assume his place as the hottest pop actor on the planet. There is something specific about Rodrigo – no doubt helped by his relationship with Disney, I grant you – that has captivated millions of people. If anything, I’d say Rodrigo probably helped Pom Pom Girls by acting as a gateway to some snotty pop-rock with a young woman’s perspective for so many listeners. She doesn’t steal an audience; she’s building one. And it’s good for everyone.

Have there been any recent additions to the 5 album test collection? – Tyler from London

Excellent question, Tyler! In fact, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately because there is a new War On Drugs album that was announced this week. It’s called I don’t live here anymore, and it falls on October 29. I was lucky enough to listen to the disc for the first time, and for now I will just say that it is already the 2021 album that I have played the most by far. (I don’t want to go too deep into this yet as we’re still a few months away, but I’ll definitely be going into The War on Drugs in the fall.)

With The War On Drugs, I need to understand two things. First of all, is I don’t live here anymore a great album? Again, I can’t answer definitively yet, but I know how I’m leaning. Second, their debut in 2008 Wagon wheel blues a great album? Because this album also has to be awesome for TWoD to pass the test. I’ve been living with this album for 13 years and I’m less sure. If the answer is “no”, there is another potential sub-question: can I justify counting the excellent 2010 EP Future weather in my series of five albums?

I’ll have to get back to you on that, Tyler.

Some of the artists covered here are artists from Warner Music. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

Elizabeth J. Harless