It was December 2013. I was wandering around the beautiful Grand Ballroom on 34th Street waiting for the Pandora Discovery Den (a free show featuring Pretty Lights, Chromeo, and Tegan & Sara) to begin.
This wasn’t my first PL show, but I had gotten into electronic music not even a year earlier and still wasn’t really familiar with the community.
All around the ballroom, as far as the eye could see, was Pretty Lights gear. Hats. T-shirts. Pins. You name it, the PL logo was on it.
I turned to my friend.
“So…like…is it not uncool in this scene to wear the artist’s merch to their own show?”
He looked at me like I had 3 heads. “What?”
“I’m pretty sure in the rest of the world it’s sort of lame if you wear a band’s t-shirt to their own concert. But everyone here is wearing Pretty Lights stuff. So that’s a normal thing to do in this scene, or…”
“Oh. Yeah I guess it’s a thing people do.”
In case of you are unaware of this very-much-spoken rule about not wearing a musician’s merch to a show, here’s some proof from the very influential 1994 movie PCU:
I spent much of my adolescence being very cognizant of not being “that guy.” Sure, I owned No Doubt and Weezer t-shirts (2 of my favorite bands everrrr) but I never dared wear them to a show.
In fact, when some friends and I went to see No Doubt in 2010(ish?), we even talked about the fact that it was acceptable for our friend to wear a No Doubt shirt only because it was from the 90s and therefore vintage and nostalgic and, ergo, extremely cool.
But this rule doesn’t exist anymore, at least not ’round these parts. I’ve mentioned more than once that Bassnectar’s fans put his logo on seemingly everything, and PL is no different. Not only is it acceptable to wear the t-shirt to the show, it’s encouraged. The more creative you can be, the better. Want to buy a hat and t-shirt and flag and display them all at the same time? Awesome. Want to design your own gear and put your favorite producer’s logo on it? Even better. People will want to buy one. Or seven.
I guess this is just yet another indicator of how I’ve had to fight my own age within the electronic music scene (I should really make an “old people stuff” category for this blog). Maybe one day soon I’ll get over the hesitation around being “that guy” that was ingrained into me for so long. Back in October I wore a pair of Big G boy shorts (glow in the dark!) under my jeans to see them play in Philly on my birthday, and even though no one knew about it except me, it still felt a little rebellious.