This was the best thing that ever happened to Times Square.
Jenny Holzer – SURVIVAL, 1983-1985 (exhibited as part of Creative Time’s 42nd Street Project 1993)
“Like the Jenny Holzer pieces, you’ve got a lot of people saying, ‘What the fuck is that? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?’ And it’s like, well, why are you angry about that and you’re not angry about anything else you see here? About drug dealing, about people with drugs, about homelessness, but you’re getting mad about this sign because people feel it doesn’t belong here. And they feel all the other stuff does." (Theatre Electrician) (x)
Recently on Teh Internets I was complaining about the comparative lack of imagination & general design sense of lordemusic’s concert t-shirts, particularly given how design-sharp she is in pretty much every other way.
Along the way I threatened to post my top 10 faves from my current collection. There are so many more which have gone to the great t-shirt drawer in the sky, but these are some current (and some lifelong) faves.
A couple of notes: I own some truly amazing metal shirts, but for some reason many of them didn’t make this list, I think in part because the intricacy of their designs doesn’t photograph well (and thus also doesn’t really make as much of an impact from more than 4 feet away). And in part because some of them involve too much ink to be really comfortable to wear, which does matter. Also, there are 11 shirts here, because just because.
In no particular order:
Cantwell Gomez & Jordan
From roughly 10 years ago, maybe? The original source is obvious, but anyone who knows the band knows how much they love playing covers that totally explode yr conception of the original:
Bought this at a show in Richmond at the sadly now-defunct Plaza Bowl. Cultural appropriation is an iffy thing, but given that the frontwoman (and entire musical focus of the band) is Cambodian, it’s a little more complex than that:
Grids were a short-lived band from Charlotte, NC. Proof that a 1-color design can still be a stunner:
PIPE singer Ron Liberti is probably better-known nowadays for his cut-up/collaged/recontextualized poster art than his band; here’s the perfect example of the collision between his two artistic endeavors:
USE that space! I think this is from the tour before WHOKILL came out & blew everything wide open:
Yes, that’s metallic gold ink. I wear a lot of too-small shirts but this one, sadly, is a little bit too too-small. Special occasions only, then:
The Love Language
I’ve had ups and downs in my relationship with the Love Language & their music, but this shirt rules, and proves that it’s always good policy to fuck with the Black Flag logo:
This shirt is every bit as batshit crazy as the band, right down to the fact that it’s printed all askew:
Another Ron Liberti design. I’m perfectly comfortable with my (many) dead-centered t-shirts, but it’s hard to argue against the power of an off-center design like this one:
My current favorite shirt of all-time, for two reasons. First, there’s nothing more evocative of this band than the black logo printed on a black t-shirt. Second, it’s literally the softest t-shirt I own, which was totally unexpected and is secretly delightful:
I never wear this anymore because (a) I lost the ability to care about R.E.M. a long time ago, and (b) it’s literally about to disintegrate. This is circa 1986, I think, give or take a year. The band’s name is on the back, but it doesn’t really matter either way:
This November’s election is probably the most important, at the state level, of any I have voted in during my 22 years as an NC resident.
I have made multiple donations to each of the candidates below over the past 6 months, and I encourage everyone else to do the same. The candidates with (LL) after their names are supported by Lillian’s List, which supports pro-choice women who are running for NC legislature. They’re particularly deserving of your donations:
Gale Adcock (LL)
Angela Bryant (LL)
Susan Byerly (LL)
Sarah Crawford (LL)
Sue Counts (LL)
Kim Hanchette (LL)
Jane Hipps (LL)
Natasha Marcus (LL)
Joe Sam Queen
Elizabeth Redenbaugh (LL)
Jane Smith (LL)
Erica Smith-Ingram (LL)
Margie Storch (LL)
Terry Van Duyn (LL)