Concert memories at a cost
At five different shows over the past two weeks, fans approaching the merchandise booths at the
“It is exorbitant,’’ says Bob McGee, 51, of Revere. But that didn’t stop him from buying a $40 Frampton tee. Or a T-shirt at almost any show he’s ever been to; McGee has acquired 800 from a concert-going career spanning nearly 35 years. (Asked if he is married, McGee laughs and says, “No, obviously.’’)
“Concerts are my hobby,’’ says McGee, a MWRA employee, who will also be heading out to see Death Cab for Cutie, America, and the Flaming Lips this summer. “I don’t feel [the concert experience is] complete unless I’ve got a shirt.’’
And that’s the kind of fan that artists are counting on, says Joe Heden, tour merchandising manager for
Heden says metal fans are among the best customers. “These fans rock. They stick with their band, they’re loyal, they’ll buy a shirt every time that they’re here,’’ he says.
Mai Nakui, 28, from Tokyo, is one of those fans. She spent $55 on a bandanna and tank top, a price she deemed reasonable. “Every show I will buy something,’’ she says. “I want to keep it as a memory of which concert I attended.’’ Even if she doesn’t like the design, she’ll buy a shirt. “I even don’t wear it,’’ she says with a smile. “I hang it on the wall in my room.’’
Some opt for a different route. Billy Gilford, 19, and Jon Whalen, 18, of Halifax, decided to go with the bootleg options in the Comcast Center parking lot before heading into a recent Lil Wayne show. “Ten bucks,’’ crowed Gilford.
When Germar Kelly was Gilford and Whalen’s age, he says, “I went to shows, but I couldn’t afford the T-shirts.’’ Now Kelly, 51, of Sandwich, buys one every time and feels like he’s reclaiming a bit of his youth.
While some fans complained about “ugly’’ shirts at the Wayne and Frampton shows, design isn’t the biggest selling point for most fans, says Brent Long, Brad Paisley’s tour manager. He agrees that the classic “face and dates’’ shirts remain the most popular.
“It might not be the hippest, coolest-looking merchandise,’’ Long says, gesturing to the more basic shirts piled up in the merchandise shack at a recent Paisley show at the Comcast Center, “but people want a remembrance of the day.’’
Mat Sienko, 26, is happy to simply use his brain to conjure memories of the Mötley Crüe show. The Providence-based musician generally buys T-shirts only of smaller-scale bands because, “it’s a little different when you know you’re putting food in someone’s mouth. It’s not like Tommy Lee needs the money.’’
Plus, he adds, “With $9 beers, it’s hard enough keeping money in your wallet here.’’
Sarah Rodman can be reached at email@example.com.