Band T-shirts and the people you meet wearing them

Last February I paid a whopping $45 for a hefty, overpriced tour shirt. Now before you start lecturing me on loose spending habits, I’ll have you know that 1) I freaking love Fleetwood Mac, and 2) that’s the only reason I need to give.

FM shirt

Wearing band shirts is a point of pride. It shows your (musical, cultural, sometimes even personal) allegiance. Tour shirts are souvenir items that prove you were there, that you saw Stevie Nicks in the flesh and heard her give an inspiring pep talk (that was probably inspiring just because it came from the mouth of Stevie Nicks).

Band shirts also make for some neat conversation starters.

The first person that commented on my Fleetwood Mac shirt was a bespectacled twenty-something lady working at a Take Five cafe. She lamented on how lucky I was to have seen it, and we talked about music for a bit before I thanked her for my matcha latte and went my merry way.

Several other people commented on my shirt shorthandedly like so, but a great conversation leapt out of a night out at a launching party space for a local literary magazine I volunteer for. A fellow is his fifties, a board member, sauntered up to me and just started talking nonstop about Fleetwood Mac. Turns out he first saw them in 1976 as a 17 year-old. This, of course, got me fascinated, as that was the golden age of the band and me being born in the wrong era had only seen bootleggy YouTube clips of Stevie Nicks in her glory. But this guy had seen them in the flesh at the height of their fame.

We then launched into a spirited conversation about classic rock. I learned that he was in a local squeeze-box band (that means accordions). He, in turn, was interested at the phenomenon of young people like me listening to music from his generation. Of course, we also talked about writing, and he alerted me to a nearby historical literary artifact associated with the first Chinese-Canadian writer to have graduated from the program I’m currently enrolled in. Neat stuff.

Perhaps there’s nothing too special about this story, but I’ve always been fascinated at how people connect through music. You realize that someone shares your love of an artist, and suddenly you become kin.

My music tastes tend to differ with those of my friends, so it’s difficult for me to make it out to a concert with company. But when I meet someone with whom I can discuss music…the joy is so much greater.

Music is also a cross-generation conversation topic if you are a consumer of classical or pre-21st century genres. I’ve also found unexpectedly enjoyable acquaintances in flee markets in boomers with beards and white hair selling first issue 60s albums.

Tshirts are a pretty awesome, subtle way to declare what you enjoy without being obnoxious and pretentious about it…well, not too pretentious. Next time you see someone wearing something you recognize, no matter how different they seem from you, strike up a conversation. You might make an unexpected friend.

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One thought on “Band T-shirts and the people you meet wearing them

  1. Deciding to wear/buy a band t shirt etc means inviting the scary and exhilarating conversations, which is probably why we all use cost as a detractor to buying it (despite the priceless conversations). Why do we do that? Surely there’s no surefire way to find friends with similar music tastes, by declaring your love for a band/singer? Annoying as the mind is, meeting someone based on their intimate music taste can be sort of like meeting someone by reading their diary first. On the other hand, music isn’t truly enjoyed unless you have someone to share it with, as you said, so eventually music love will lead to music sharing. Music is different from other interests in that it doesn’t actually have a physical reminder-no one can “see” your musical interest unless you point it out in some way. On the contrary, whenever you have any piece of gear (snowboard, for example) someone’s very likely to come up to you. It always makes me happy when someone notices a piece of gear and asks me how my day was. I wish it was just as easy to display a love for music and have someone ask you ‘how was your day’. 🙂

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