The Rules of Metal Concert T-shirts

I’ve been meaning to weigh in on this subject for a while now, as it seems to be a hotly debated topic around & about. In fact, while researching this post I found two interesting posts Here and Here– both from Ohio based bloggers like myself. Apparently we here in the Midwest REALLY take this shit seriously!

I should probably also add that I disagree with points on both of those links.  My own rules are no more definitive than anyone else’s, but I like to think that my roughly 30 years of concert going experience means something (other than just that my ears ring a lot).   Still, consider these as just rules of thumb.  Ok, so here’s my take:

First off, in the Metal community it’s best to wear the most obscure, yet badass t-shirt that you own to a  show.  The more corporate the concert you’re attending, the less obscure your shirt needs to be as obscurity is relative, but to a really underground show – you best bring out your hard won Ebay treasures. 

Wearing a Nickleback T-shirt to an Amon Amarth show, for example – might get you an assbeating.  Wearing Amon Amarth to Nickleback will get you a few knowing nods from other more experienced metalheads in attendance.  It’s really kind of an art form, matching the appropriately kickass shirt to the audience & show you’re going to.  I actually know a guy who brings 3 shirts with him, changing throughout the show – especially if someone has the same shirt on that he has.  Probably taking things a bit far, no?

Wearing a t-shirt of the same band (or bands) of the concert you’re attending is generally a no-no unless you have a few extraordinary circumstances.  Wearing an older tour shirt of the current band is acceptable in some situations (depends on the band, really) as it can mean “Hey, I saw these guys back in the day”.  Iron Maiden fans, for example, often appreciate that you saw the Powerslave tour when going to their shows now. 

Another reason it could be ok is if the shirt you own is rare in some way.  Autographed shirts, although technically rare, shouldn’t be worn.  It makes you look like a self-important prick to wear an autograph.  Aside from that, it’s best to advertise some OTHER band to the masses, kinda helping to spread the word.

I never wear a shirt I just bought at the current show, instead preferring to tie it to my belt and use it almost like a kilt.  I think wearing the new shirt AT THE SHOW just looks dumb, especially if you’re wearing another shirt under it.  At Blue Oyster Cult, however – I broke this rule bigger than shit.  I liked the ‘More Cowbell’ shirt so much, I put it on immediately.  I probably helped the band sell a lot of shirts that day as I walked the crowd & people are like “where did you get that shirt?”.  I only needed to point to the merch table & they skipped off like Dorothy to see the Wizard.  Like I said, these are rules of thumb.

If going to a metal show, do NOT wear a golf shirt, or a dress shirt, or anything trendy to the normal public.  Really, act like you’ve been to a concert before – even if you haven’t.  Metalheads don’t suffer fools well & you could really regret trying to “look good for the chicks”.  Besides, metal chicks have a different idea of what looking good is.

After the concert, feel free to wear your new swag whenever.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with showing people that you attended a given concert & many folks may stop you to ask your opinion.  The two week rule?  Psshaw.

So there you have it, or at least the finer points that come to mind.  I’m sure I’ll get the disagreeing emails & that’s fine.  To each his own.  But if you are stupid enough to wear your favorite Emo band to see Manowar. . . well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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2 Responses to “The Rules of Metal Concert T-shirts”

  1. Marc says:

    If you have ever been to a Black Label Society show or Texas Hippie Coalition…the t shirt rule does not apply. The guys at these shows wear what the fuck they want. Who’s going to tell a 300 pound big hairy dude otherwise? Not me! I think that this is a bullshit rule created by many of the younger crowd. Just my .02

  2. Nicky Tan says:

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for your provided information.

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