The Concert Shirt.
If you attend a concert without going home with a concert t-shirt you didn’t really attend the show. At least that was my thinking many years ago.
As such, I have many concert shirts, also known as tour shirts. I had to have one even if I was only a marginal fan of the band I was seeing. If I attended a concert I went home with a shirt. The merch both offers an experience like no other and owning and of course wearing a concert tee proved you were there. In many respects, buying a tour shirt encapsulated the whole concert attending experience.
Eventually my drawers spilled over and the price for a cotton “T” that quickly faded and needed the most delicate of care rivaled the cost of gold, therefore I quickly moved on from this “gotta buy a concert shirt” thinking and only bought tour shirts of bands I really enjoyed and was proud to advertise. After all, that’s what we as fans do. Advertise for our favorite bands on our dime!
Sometimes if the show left me with a big smile, I B-lined towards the merch booth to grab a concert tee, thus I occasionally fell off the wagon, but for good reason. Entertain me for a few hours with a story to tell the next day, I’ll hand over my hard-earned cash and promote your brand. This thrill though quickly washed over and could leave me with buyer’s remorse the next day so I learned to curb my emotions.
That’s not to say I never buy concert t-shirts anymore.
At any rate, I have quite a large collection of concert shirts much of those in storage and a good number in ready rotation but I usually have my go-tos. I also have my favorite concert shirts that I wear on special occasions and thanks to fellow bloggers DeKE over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock who has come up with some original ideas as we tread concert waters during the coronavirus outbreak, I thought I’d list my favorite concert shirts.
By the way, as a general rule, the concert tour dates must be printed on the back of the concert tee. And, if you want to know my secret on washing concert shirts, check out “How to Wash Concert Shirts” for all the tips and tricks I use to keep these mostly poorly knitted shirts newer for longer.
Favorite Concert T-Shirts
My apologies in advance – Rush concert shirts will occupy many of these positions. I probably should just do a favorite Rush concert shirts on its own. I present these in no particular order but #1 is #1.
Rush Counterparts T-Shirt – 1994
This is the greatest shirt in the world. I don’t wear it enough because I don’t want it to fade or lose it’s luster. I have several of these. I saw the Counterparts tour once, a Top 10 Best Rush album for me, and the circumstances just getting to this show makes for a blog post. No tour dates on the back though but I was immediately drawn to the front scene and it was and remains one of the best Rush tour shirts ever created.
Gin Blossoms T-Shirt – Let You Down Live Again Tour – 2002
I bought this shirt at the second Gin Blossoms concert I saw, about a week after the first time at a city fair for free. The Let You Down Live Again tour shirt has stood the test of time better than any concert shirt I own. The heather gray prevents obvious fading, it has not stretched nor has the fabric deteriorated. I wear this one a lot and I’d bet very few people have one.
Rush Hall of Fame Shirt – 2013
Blah, blah, blah…I was there! See why I say the concert shirt rounds out the experience? Granted the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony shirt does not technically qualify as a tour shirt, this gem was sold at the ceremony in Los Angeles, which I bought, and then when the Backstage Club reproduced them I bought another for wearing and the original (shown) was stored for safe keeping.
New Order T-Shirt – Touring Republic – 1993
One of the oldest shirts in my collection belongs to New Order. I got this tour shirt at the Hollywood Bowl in 1993. I have not seen New Order since but have tickets to their co-headlining concert with Pet Shop Boys at The Gorge for September, which has been postponed. Yes, I was very much looking forward to wearing this shirt and possibly getting a new one.
This New Order tour shirt is starting to show its age thus it gets to see the light of day maybe once a year but it has always been a favorite and for a band that I think most people forgot about.
Rush R40 T-Shirt – 2015
I fully remember standing in line at the BOK Center in Tulsa, OK looking at all the available concert shirts for the R40 tour and was quietly disappointed. I did not like any of them, at first, but the blue R40 tour shirt did stand out and as I gazed upon it while waiting it called to me. It’s a great shirt, the only blue one Rush ever produced (as far as I know) and I ended up eventually with two.
Rush R30 T-Shirt – 2004
I dig the R30 logo shirt. (You know why they went with R30 and subsequently R40, right?) Rush had not produced many, if any red shirts, until the R30 shirt, and this one has stood the test of time as well. Red does fade worse than black but with care I have kept this in regular rotation without it looking like I need to retire it. In fact, I still actively wear several R30 tour shirts.
Def Leppard T-Shirt – Hits Vegas: The Sin City Residency – 2019
One of the newer concert t-shirts I own. When I first arrived outside Zappos Theater looking for Def Leppard Las Vegas residency merchandise this shirt was not on display. I was not overly enthralled with the available concert tees so I asked if additional tour shirts would be available inside the venue when the gates opened. Indeed, this one appeared on the computer screen, looked cool enough and I returned in time to ensure I could grab this one, if it looked as good in person. It was sold-out by the end of the show.
Rush Presto Shirt – 1990
I don’t wear this one. It is brand new, still has the original new concert t-shirt smell and marks the first Rush concert I attended. I wore the first Presto tour shirt I bought to death and, back then, concert shirts were mostly third-world garbage that looked good new but quickly succumbed to the washer. I won’t ever wash this one.
Social Distortion T-Shirt – 30th Anniversary Tour – 2009
Social Distortion only hit five United States dates as the band spent much of this 2009 summer tour in Canada. I don’t think it was officially billed as a 30th anniversary tour but Mike Ness founded his punk rock band in 1979 so it certainly qualifies as a 30th anniversary tour, of sorts.
Switchfoot T-Shirt – Fantastic Traveling Music Show Tour – 2019
My latest purchase beat out Guns N’ Roses Las Vegas Residency shirt (before they got back together) and a Rush Clockwork Angels Tour shirt that has a bee on it. I thought this Switchfoot Fantastic Traveling Music Show shirt would end up under buyer’s remorse. They only had extra-large and the older I get the less I want a “loud” shirt, one reason I don’t have any Metallica shirts. But this grew on me, the bigger size fits fine and the show was the best I have ever seen Switchfoot so it slots in at #10.
Other Tour Shirts I Own
In addition to the above, I also have tour shirts from the following bands: