Monday, 20 November 2017

Bands not brands

I've seen a lot of discussion lately about not needing to listen to the band on your t-shirt, which I find perplexing honestly. I can't fathom why you'd want to wear and promote a band you don't even listen to. People seem to feel attacked like it's an elitist thing, but it's literally a 'why would you even want to?' thing.

I've seen many comments of 'it's just a t-shirt, it's not that deep' which I'm not sure whether is coming from a place of naivety or just ignorance. If music has never moved you, if you've never heard something that resonated with you so deeply that it meant everything to you, if you've never had a favourite band, I find that sad. Music means so much to so many. Music makes me happy, it articulates feelings I can't put words to, it makes me feel validated in my negative experiences and has gotten me through the very worst of times. Bands have literally saved peoples lives. It is that deep. And when I wear a band shirt, it's because I want to tell the entire world 'hey, this band means the entire fucking world to me'. Not, 'cool, a triangle with a rainbow through it'.

I understand people feel attacked for being questioned by strangers on the bands on their t-shirts. And as I listen to bands that are predominantly seen as having largely male fanbases (regardless of whether that's true or not) I get it. I've had men mansplain and tell me there's no one in Pink Floyd called Syd. I've had men ask me whether I really like vinyl or that particular band, or if I'm just trying to impress a male (because why else would a girl like something???). I've been quizzed on my pop knowledge as if I'm supposed to pass some test of being a 'true fan'. Seriously, I get it, I know just how much sexism there is in being a music fan, and it sucks. But you're not helping female music fans be taken seriously by wearing bands you know nothing about. Why shouldn't women be mocked for their interests when they bought their Beatles top at Primark and don't know what Iron Maiden means despite wearing it?

Also not everyone who asks you about your t-shirt is interrogating you. If I see someone, particularly a female, wearing a shirt of a band I love, I feel a connection because I assume we like the same thing and I want to get to know that person because we share an interest. Throughout the ages t-shirts have been used to communicate to others that they share interest in a subculture, in a movement, it's always been the one item of clothing anyone could wear regardless of dress codes or restrictions. You can't wear something that makes a statement of your interests, and then get upset because people are assuming you like that thing that you're wearing. Most people aren't interrogating you, they're simply excited to have found someone who likes the same thing that means a lot to them. And surely you'd too be upset if you then found out said person was actually just wearing it as a fashion statement? Even if music is just an empty, meaningless commodity to you, surely there's something else that you feel fiercely with your whole heart that you can liken the situation to?

Lines have become blurred in recent years, with fashion stores like Primark and Topshop stocking music t-shirts which is something I've always taken issue with. Previously if you wanted a band t-shirt you'd have to either buy it from a music venue, the band's merchandising directly, and basically put a little bit of work into getting it. Nowadays someone can stroll into Primark and purchase a Sex Pistols t-shirt just because it's the right shade of pink for their skirt (also let's marvel at the sheer irony of a punk band selling their wears in the most mainstream of stores). The lines between whats a band and whats a brand have become a little blurred, which was proven earlier this year when Kylie Jenner plastered her face over vintage band t-shirts. And fashion stores themselves have even been caught using bands images without consent.

But it's very easy not to be a mindless consumer. Google is free. So is YouTube. It's not like the old days where you had to invest money in a CD to find out if you like a certain band, you can literally listen to a couple of songs on YouTube for £0.00 to find out if this is a band you want to rep or not. Because like it or not, whatever your stance on the issue, when you wear a band shirt you are representing a band. So why not make sure that it's a band that represents who you are?

pink floyd t-shirt - forever 21 // skirt - 1970s vintage // shoes - 1960s vintage // necklace - indian silver via oxfam

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Wonderful Wonderful

Last Tuesday night I finally saw The Killers live at their own concert. And it was so fabulous I've struggled to find the words to even put it into a blog post.

I've loved The Killers for over 10 years. When I first discovered them, they really reignited my passion for music and have remained incredibly important to me ever since. I'd always been incredibly passionate about music throughout my young life, but during my later teen years I found myself drifting away from it for a while, becoming a passive listener. That is until I heard When You Were Young on the radio when it was released and something was ignited in me that has never gone out since. I went out and purchased Sam's Town as soon as it was released, then the following week went back to the music shop to buy Hot Fuss and catch up with what I’d missed. I remember when I held that album in my hands for the first time, recognizing some of the track names and feeling apprehensive as I was sure I wouldn't like it. It was for nothing and the songs quickly grew on me, although I have to admit Hot Fuss has never been my favourite album even if I do have a tattoo of one of the tracks from it! Nothing came close to the magic of Sam's Town for me, at least not until the release of Day & Age.

The Killers

Although I’ve been a fan of the Killers for so long, and a member of their official fan club for over a decade, it’s taken me until this year to be able to see them live. The first time was for my birthday, which felt serendipitous but ending up being a not so great time, so I was excited to have the opportunity to see them again in a better environment surrounded by like minded fans.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket within the two minutes they were on sale before selling out (!), and last Tuesday I made my way up to Birmingham. It’s taken me until now to be able to form my thoughts somewhat coherently, and still I don’t feel I can emphasise just how amazing the experience was.

I got there a little later than I had intended, I had a standing ticket and wanted to queue early but the M5 had other plans. Despite being held up for 2 hours, there were only about 100 people in front of me when I arrived at the Genting Arena at 5pm which I suspect was due to the abysmal weather. We were let in early at 5.30, and by the time we were allowed into the arena I was 5th row from the front, which was an incredible view: close enough to be able to see the actual texture of Brandon’s face, but far back enough to clearly see the back of the stage and the rest of the band.

It’s only Brandon and Ronnie left of the band members touring now, and I have to admit I didn’t take much notice of the other musicians although they were faultless. Brandon was everything you’d expect him to be, a true showman who commanded the stage at all times. Ronnie was on his platform giving his drum kit his all, I’ve always had a weak spot for Ronnie so he particularly held my attention (my favourite band member is always the drummer, and I literally have no idea why???). It was my first time hearing their new album bar The Man which they performed at Hyde Park. I hadn’t wanted to listen to it any sooner as I haven’t liked some of their more recent work and was worried that if I didn’t like it, it would tarnish the show for me, and so I’d rather my first experience of those tracks be the live versions so I can forever associate them with the atmosphere. I love the new album so I needn’t of worried, but I do love that it now has that link to the show for me. I can't listen to it without feeling that joy and seeing them perform in my minds eye all over again.

One thing that I always love about Killers fans (or Victims to use the fan club name) is that we’re a diverse lot. On one side of me were two girls who looked about 16, the other side a couple who looked in their 50s. In the seats I could even see a few people with grey hair and walking sticks. I love when a band can bring so many generations together, I think that’s something really special. It's so wonderful to connect with strangers in such a sincere way through such a strong and shared love of something.

Their performance was amazing. They played some of my favourite songs, including Spaceman, Losing Touch, For Reason's Unknown, Read My Mind, and Runaways, which I was so thankful for. I'd seen the set list from the previous night and was pleased to notice that it was different, offering each audience their own experience. My happiness was immense, I've never danced so much in my life and my feet were throbbing the entire next day but it was entirely worth it.

A small note to end on, but I was also pleased with the venue, especially as I'll be seeing Roger Waters there next year. It's not as big as the venues in London, which I feel offers a much better experience all round no matter where you are situated in the audience.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day

Over the weekend I traveled for an hour and a half to visit a little town I hadn't visited in over a year because of that distance. I was mostly excited to visit the secondhand record shop, there aren't any where I live and so it's been a little while since I've seriously tried to buy vinyl in person. I've recently fallen into the trap of buying it online which bothers me because playing the long game and digging through crates is my passion. When you discover that record you've been hunting for for years unexpectedly, it makes it mean so much more to you and can't even compare to the instant gratification of eBay. Most of my vinyl collection has taken me on travels all over (as you can see by my archives!), and so many discs have fond memories attached to them for where and when I finally found it. And more to the point most of my collection has cost me only £1-£5 each!

I never really thought anything of the fact I hadn't been to a record store for a couple of months until I was standing in one thinking to myself "What the f*** has happened???" Most of the store had been taken over by new repressings, which I have a very deep hatred for (it's digital music pressed onto vinyl, it's faux analogue. If you want to to listen to old music on vinyl then listen to it how it was originally released. Music producers in the '60s and '70s knew what they were doing, they made these albums successful in the first place and don't need someone to come along now to "improve" it!) How can a record store advertise itself as secondhand when 80% of the stock is brand new??

Initially I was quite happy with the vinyl resurgence when it began. Record stores were finding it impossible to stay open, and with them the vinyl community was disappearing. Now there's a huge market for it, but it's begun going too far in the opposite direction. If it's not repressings taking over, it's unscrupulous dealers trying to sell completely wrecked discs that can't even be played for £50+ just because it bares the name of popular band like Led Zeppelin. I know I sound like the moany old woman that truly I am, but I'm sick of sellers taking the piss. Keep your repressings to a minimum in a secondhand record store, and stop trying to pass off poor quality as something valuable. All it does is rip off kids who don't know better instead of teaching them to fall in love with the hobby, and looks dishonest and untrustworthy to those of us who are experienced enough to know better.

Rants aside now I've got that off my chest, I did at least manage to get a few nice bits from the charity shops while I was there! The charity shops where I live are shoddy, I think I've bought a grand total of about 3 things in the 2 years I've lived here, so I'm always eager to check the charity shops as soon as I go any place else. My very first find was this pink dress which I'd admired in Topshop over a year ago, but turned my nose up at the ridiculous price tag. I got it for a grand total of £5, with it's ridiculous £48 price tag still attached! I really love the art nouveau pattern, it'll blend seamlessly into my vintage wardrobe.

I also picked up the black velvet kaftan, not vintage but by a brand called Nomads which I used to wear a lot when I was a teenager from the local hippy shops. The label gives me a warm feeling of nostalgia, and I thought it'd look nice thrown on over a vintage maxi skirt for more a simple outfit.

And the knick knacks! Sticking with the theme of nostalgia, the blue and gold oil lamp reminded me of the sun, moon and stars motifs that were so popular in the '90s. I was only little and thought it the height of sophistication at the time, so I'll always have a soft spot for it. I've always loved Winnie The Pooh, especially the classic designs as EH Shepard is one of my favourite illustrators, and so couldn't resist this Pooh Bear candle stick which will actually come in useful as I love candles. I always think Winnie The Pooh is so underrated, unfortunately it's been entirely taken over by Disney but AA Milne's original books are so witty and inspiring. If you've never read them but enjoy the works of Tove Jansson or Lewis Carroll I really recommend them, they're so much more than 'for kids' and are quite deep.

I quickly swiped up this cushion as soon as I saw it, I have the matching throw and thought it'd make a great set for a room, you can see them side by side here. And I love the illustration on this vintage pattern so had to add it to my stash.

No records, but a lucky day out none the less! And I've since found out there's a record fair on next week, so hopefully luck will be with me there instead.

I'll leave you with this fab TV set I saw on my travels, how I'd of loved to take it home with me! Out of curiousity, if anyone knows whether it's possible to make an old TV like this work I'd be very interested. I know you can get analogue to digital converters and freeview boxes, but I don't know if they would work on a TV of this age? I've tried Googling, but it was mostly full of people gutting them and repurposing them into drinks cabinets, which really isn't my vibe.
© Dolly Rocker. Design by FCD.