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.
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.