The Best Band Merch at 2014 Music Festivals
Merch Table via Coachella
T-shirts and concerts – they go hand-in-hand. You see an awesome band, then you celebrate the fact you saw said awesome band with an equally awesome t-shirt. Even better, you use your new band merch to proclaim your great taste in music at other concerts, especially festivals, which are essentially giant parades of band t-shirts.
A festival merch tent itself is a monster, and it can be overwhelming. Sure, everyone knows to get the festival lineup t-shirt, but after that, there will be a ton of other merchandise to choose from. With that in mind, here are 10 of the coolest t-shirts from bands playing festivals this year. Please note that this a purely speculative list, for we do not have any inside info about what t-shirts will be sold at each specific event.
Part of what makes a great band t-shirt is a great band name. The name has to look good in print if it's going to look good across your body. Case in point: Queens of the Stone Age. Josh Homme’s band has a great name, and therefore it looks great on a shirt. It looks particularly good on this “Succubus” t-shirt, and the design is cool, too. Basically, it looks like an advertisement for Hell-spawn who’ve got some vacation time on their hands/claws. Great band name + great design = great band t-shirt.
Normally I wouldn’t recommend a t-shirt from a solo artist, since a person’s name is usually much less interesting than a band’s. But Jack White bands, from The White Stripes to The Dead Weather, have a history of great merch, and this shirt is no different. The shirt has White’s name on the back and his awesome “III” logo on the front. As any Jack White fan will tell you, Jack White is to the number three what Beyonce is to the number four. The shirt also comes in black but I’m partial to the light blue.
If you’re trying to be “cool,” the year 2014 probably isn’t the best time to be wearing a Black Keys shirt. Sometime in the last couple years, the world’s most perpetually and criminally underrated band became the world’s most egregiously overrated band. Even after the Keys’ alleged sell-out, two facts remain: their 2004 effort Rubber Factory is an incredible album, and 'The Black Keys' is an incredible band name. Really, any name that follows the 'The Adjective Nouns' format is going to be solid at worst, unless, of course, you actually name your band 'The Adjective Nouns,' which is just obnoxious.
Anyway, this shirt is cool because it also reps the band’s hometown of Akron, OH, which still needs some cheering up after that whole LeBron James “Decision” thing. If nothing else, buy a Black Keys t-shirt to remind people that Rubber Factory exists, because, again, that album is incredible.
Now here’s a band that’s “cool” in 2014. Deemed (somewhat unfairly) as “black metal for hipsters,” Deafheaven backs up its indie cred with some legitimately stunning music. In keeping with their striking sound, Deafheaven has some pretty striking shirts. This one actually has the name of the band’s latest album on the front, but luckily, just as “Deafheaven” is a fantastic band name, Sunbather is a fantastic album name. The half-letter design also ties in nicely with the band’s dark and ominous sound.
The Replacements are an all-time great band with an all-time great band name. Even the film "The Replacements," a football comedy starring Keanu Reeves as the spectacularly named Shane Falco, could not tarnish the band’s name. Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson recently reunited the legendary band, which in and of itself makes a Replacements t-shirt a must buy. My favorite of the shirts listed on their website is this “Pleased to Meet Me” shirt, named after their 1987 album. Keep an eye out for the “I was robbed $25 by The Replacements” shirt though, because those are beyond incredible.
The already buzzy Perfect Pussy just picked up a lot more buzz at SXSW, so if cred is what you’re after, we’ve got just the shirt for you. More importantly, the band’s name is 'Perfect Pussy,' and shirt says “Perfect Pussy” no less than 6 times. That’s just fantastic. I’m already giving Meredith Graves’ noise rock outfit the “Best Band Name of 2014” award. And their music ain't half-bad neither. I would say that you should be careful where you wear your Perfect Pussy shirt, but if you’re the type of person who would wear this shirt to work, my feeble warning here probably isn’t going to stop you. But this is damn near perfect festival attire.
Speaking of buzzy, Chance the Rapper is probably one of the buzziest rappers today whose name doesn’t rhyme with Flendrick Glamar. With a top 15 finish on Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of 2013 and a bunch of festival dates coming up, Mr. The Rapper is looking to have an even more impactful 2014. This ridiculously cool t-shirt is sure to help, too. Though it doesn’t have Chance’s name on the front, it does have the equally great album name, Acid Rap, in rainbow letters on a charcoal background. It’s simple, yet totally represents Chance’s personality. This is probably my favorite shirt on this list.
This probably isn’t the type of demon that Matt Berninger was singing about on “Demons,” but the design makes an effective shirt nonetheless. 'The National' is an underrated band name, and it looks great displayed here under the aforementioned antlered demon. Plus, it can double as a “True Detective” t-shirt for your less musically initiated friends that also subscribe to premium cable channels.
On it's own, 'Phantogram' is an acceptable band name at best. But it really pops on this t-shirt, which just has really cool design. Ironically, the electronic duo doesn’t have a drummer (except when touring), yet somehow the image of a “Space Drummer” fits perfectly with their music. If you need any more motivation to buy this shirt, just listen to Phantogram’s most recent effort, Voices, which is one of 2014’s best albums.
Let’s face it: this year’s summer festival season is synonymous with Outkast reuniting. If you want to represent the fact you saw a music festival in 2014, an Outkast shirt will be the way to do it. There haven’t been any t-shirts released by the duo as of yet, but given the gravity of this reunion, they are bound to be special.
Look for them: everywhere!