Monday, August 24, 2009

east coast vs west coast, part two

So this conversation started, as many good conversations do, in the parking lot of a Trader Joe's. We park, I'm talking about how freakin' excited I am about the Flogging Molly concert we're going to next month, he drops the bomb. And by bomb, I mean that he says, "Yeah, I just wish I had a Flogging Molly shirt to wear to the concert."And I look at him. He looks at me. Wait, what?

"You're kidding, right?"

"No. If I had a Flogging Molly shirt I would totally wear it to the concert."

"'re AT the concert. You'd be That Guy. You don't want to be That Guy!"

"What does that mean? That Guy? Because I'm wearing the t-shirt of the band I like to their concert? It shows I'm a fan."

"NO. It shows you're That Guy."

"Well, on the East Coast..." blah blah blah words.

Anyways, he goes on to say that on the East Coast there is nothing stronger than what they refer to as old-school fan pride. That is to say, if you've been a fan since the beginning of the band's creation, or first album, or whatever, you can show your pride and how much you like the band by wearing an OLDER t-shirt (this is key here, folks) from ANOTHER concert or tour to show that you've been a fan for a long time and thus you are cooler than all those hip wannabes that are just now finding out how much your band kicks ass. Point in case, when we went to the Metallica concert in Jersey together, there were a ton of older Metallica t-shirts being worn, and none of those guys looked embarrassed to be wearing them. Or that they wouldn't be able to kick my ass if I made fun of them.

And I am baffled by this. Because all my life, since I moved to California at the tender age of nine, through Smashing Pumpkins and No Doubt and Beastie Boys and Green Day and Depeche Mode and Rage Against the Machine and U2 concerts, it has been drilled into me: never.wear.the.t-shirt. Ever. Unless, as Krista pointed out, it's to be ironic, which rarely works. Mostly you just look like the person who's trying too hard. And if there's anything we abhor in's trying too hard.

Which brings me back to the fundamental difference between East Coasters and West Coasters. East Coast people are totally cool with how proud they are, almost rabidly so, of their sports teams, bands, neighborhoods, ethnicity, whatever. And if it's suddenly hot and trendy, but you liked it BEFORE it was trendy, then woe to the guy who tries to claim he's a bigger fan than you. Because fan pride is what it's all about, and being there before the band or artist "sold out" and got big is a huge claim to fame. East Coasters like to go against the grain, but in a "damn the man, save the Empire" kind of way (give yourself a pat on the back if you know what movie that's from). On the East Coast, you get made fun of for not trying hard enough.

But California plays it chill. We have so many different neighborhoods, ethnicities, restaurants, sports teams (hell, we even have two basketball teams!), up and coming bands, tv shows, and artists, that we float from scene to scene and pretend we don't really care. Trying too hard or caring too much about one particular band is the ultimate un-cool. So we scoff at those who wear the t-shirts and show off their 13 year-in-the-making fan pride. We try to turn it around like, "Yeah, I just got here, I don't even know the name of the drummer, and that actually makes me COOLER than you." Our detachment from ever truly loving, caring, and rabidly following something is what supposedly makes us cooler than everyone else.

But...I dunno. I got to say, since I started writing these two posts...maybe those prickly New Englanders are on to something. Maybe it IS kind of awesome to follow a band since its days back as the opening act of some lame music festival where we saw what it would take others decades to see, and to wear that band's shirt in pride, to show that we actually followed through and have cared about something long before it ever showed up on YouTube or TMZ.

So...I turn it over to you guys now. Yes, we can probably all agree that buying a t-shirt at a concert and then putting it on before you even get back to your seat is kind of lame, the trying-too-hard to end all trying-too-hards.

But what if you've been following a band for years, catching them in concert as much as you could, and you dig through your wardrobe, pull out that concert tee from 1995, when the album kinda sucked but man did they give an awesome show, and you wear it so that all the little fourteen year olds out there who don't even know who Kurt Cobain is anymore can be just a little bit embarrassed for jumping on the bandwagon when you built that bandwagon's damn WHEELS.

Thoughts? Comments?


krista said...

in california, the cool thing is to wear a tshirt from some obscure band that OPENED for the band you're really there to see when they FIRST toured.
the more obscure the reference, the better.

stewbottum said...

As a tried and true East Coaster for the past 29 years, I think this attitude really comes from Sports. New England in general is in constant turmoil due to sports rivalries. Eagles vs Giants, or Phillies vs Mets, or the Patriots vs EVERY OTHER FOOTBALL TEAM. This spreads to bands, where it may not be so much about being cool, but actually about getting your team's back.

A true New England thing to do is to use the pronoun "We" when talking about your sports team. So, for example, How did the Phillies do today? "We won the game 7-4." Huh? You don't play on the team, but it's "We"?

Yes, that's how East Coasters roll baby. Music just happened to be an innocent bystander.

drollgirl said...

i am sure this debate could rage on forever!

my 2 cents:

i HATE when people are leaving a concert and they play a cd of the band that JUST PERFORMED. jesus h christ, you just saw them live in all of their glory, and you are playing their cd now?!?!? not sure if this makes sense, but it drives me BONKERS.

rant #2. i can hardly stand going to concerts now. maybe it is better on the east coast? i went to what would be a killer show, and COMPLETE FOOLS ALL AROUND ME were texting, and blackberrying and chatting through the entire show. hello?!?!? are you just a hipster doofus that came to the show to be SEEN, or are you hear cuz you like the music?!??!?!

ok. sorry for sounding so old and grouchy. grrrrrrr.

drollgirl said...

i think i just emailed this to the wrong person instead of sending to you. eke!

I AM SO GLAD YOU UNDERSTAND!!! sometimes i don't communicate so well, and still you managed to get this!!! playing the band's music BEFORE the concert is fine -- to get pumped up and excited and such. but after!??!? COME ON! it should be silence. for real. that is it.

dude, i was at the white stripes (about 5 years ago, kind of at their peak), and the crowd infuriated me so that i just wanted to leave. same with david bowie. same thing with tool (i can't stand tool, but bf loves them). same thing with queens of the stone age. i am sort of scared to try concerts again, as the moronic folks can kind of ruin it!!

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to hear how musicians feel about this, because ultimately it's about their music. If they like it when people where T-shirts of the band then I think it's a good thing. If they think it's too cheesy then I think people shouldn't do it. Thanks for sharing this.

Iva Messy said...

LOL LOL LOL!! sorry but... I'm loving drollgirls comments LOL LOL LOL!! ahh hilarious! ..I'll just say ditto LOL

hope you had a fabulous weekend!

Celia said...

i'm loving this. is there going to be a part three? where in new hampshire are you from? my fiance is from portsmouth, more specifically, rye. and let me tell you what fun times it is when a girl from glassell park spends a few days in nh. can you say, "fish out of water"? i'm thinking it might be because i don't own a pair of khakis...
anyway, i'll discuss the whole band t-shirt thing with my friend, krista (up there), tonight since i'll be seeing her in about 2 hours. i'm very aware that new englanders are, to put it politely, passionate people. this is something that this california girl has definitely had to adjust to. i hail from the land of "whatever", so i'm not one that's likely to put in my two cents, and you'll definitely NEVER catch me wearing the bad t-shirt. and it's not because i think it's lame (although, maybe i do a little), but it's more because, well, who gives a shit how long i've been a fan?!? and quite honestly (not to step on any toes here), but who gives a shit how long YOU've been a fan?!? you don't need to prove it to me because, "whatever", i don't care. am i making sense?
actually, i don't even go to concerts anymore. i've all of a sudden become one of those people that complains about how loud they are...

Archana said...

Okay, so the movie, Empire Records. ;)

As for the whole East Coast, West Coast deal, something tells me I should have gone to school on the West Coast. Haha, that said, never been that into music that calls for live performances....simply because people like Sean Paul are good on TV, mp3, etc, but when it comes to actually performing, I'll pass. It's never the same as what it sounds like in the studio.

jenn said...

i'm neither east nor west coast (smack dab in the middle) and there is nothing more taboo than wearing the band t-shirt to the concert. big no no. and same with the music after the concert. :)

Wine and Words said...

Had no idea there were band t-shirt rules. However, I am going to a concert this Friday, tame tame tame concert...Jason Mraz at a Winery...but I will definetely not be wearing his T-shirt, even if I had one, which I don't, and now I'm glad :)

AJ said...

And here I thought you were going to say that on the West Coast it was OK to wear the t-shirt of the band, 'cause my experience on the East Coast and with East Coasters has certainly been "don't be That Guy".

Gwen said...

LOL!!! It's definitely not like going to a sporting event that's for sure. :) XOXO

Radical Bradacal said...

1) The movie is "Empire Records" ...
Good job on fitting in an East Coast movie about a record store. ;)

2) I think you have to stipulate between West Coast vs. California ... and really, Southern California at that. As the resident honorary Pac. NorthWester, folks up in the North LOVE their bands ... the problem with them, is that if you DIDN'T like the band from the very beginning (or let's face it, know about them), then you're not a true fan, and you never will be ... they are the originators of Indie, the denizens of anti-corporate anything - in fact, they worship bands that are so obscure, they don't even HAVE T-Shirts yet.

It's a small, but important distinction. Southern California really has it's own rules of "in."

I say wear the band shirt, so long as it's not from the tour you're going to see ... then I'll just call you a n00b.

Phoenix said...

touche, Radical Bradical... :)

MildlySensational said...

As a Rocky Mountain girl, my concert experiences are less about the shirt & more about the clothes. Lots of concert venues are outside (weather permitting), so bring a coat or blanket & wear hiking shoes. It can get cold at night, sometimes even in the summer, and you might be hiking up to Red Rocks. :) So, who's gonna know which shirt you're wearing?? But, if you MUST, it should be an older concert tee. Cool is as cool does, after all.

And if you listen to bands that don't even EXIST yet? Save it for SoCal, Denver doesn't care how cool you are. As the Mile High City, we're above all that. :p

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