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Kevin Ritchie
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2012's best concert Tees
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Concert tees that please

2012's best concert shirts


The best part of being a music writer is blowing the money you’re being paid to review a concert on pricey limited-edition T-shirts at the merch table. Here are eight examples from 2012 where the T-shirt lived up to the concert (and vice versa).

Atlas Sound

The gig: March 6 at Lee’s Palace; Parallax tour

The score:I love this shirt so much I wore it for two weeks straight after buying it. It’s Alternative Apparel “vintage soft,” meaning it fits perfectly and embodies what Atlas Sound’s Bradford Cox might call a “pagan, ripped T-shirt attitude.”
Hunx and His Punx

The gig: March 31 at the Silver Dollar; Hairdresser Blues tour
The score: The Hunx “magazine” shirt is designed like a 1950s panic teen-dream zine and covered in headlines that scream things like “Is he your dream guy?” Designed by Hunx man Seth Bogart, Vivian Girls’ Cassie Ramone and garage rocker Kyle Thomas (aka King Tuff), it’s a shirt people need to get really close to read.
Twin Shadow

The gig:July 29 at Lee’s Palace; Ton Up tour

The score: Twin Shadow’s limited-edition T-shirt, designed by illustrator Gianmarco Magnani, features a fantasy vehicular makeout sesh cleverly customized with flag art corresponding to each leg of his tour. The cutest shirt I bought in 2012.

The gig: Sept 12 at Air Canada Centre; MDNA tour

The score: I usually avoid T-shirts that lazily repurpose album cover art unless it’s an absolutely iconic image. Thus, I passed on the shirts brandishing the over-art-directed sleeve for Madonna’s MDNA LP and opted for this unsettlingly ageless image of Madge seductively snacking on a red glove.
Grace Jones

The gig: Oct 27 at Roseland Ballroom, New York; Hurricane — Return to Roseland

The score: The merch table at Grace Jones’s one-off gig in New York was an absolute mob scene. So many incredible fashions sold out before my eyes but not before I snagged this tank with the snarling Jean-Paul Goude–shot portrait from the Hurricane album cover. The date is printed on the back.
How to Dress Well

The gig: Oct 4 at The Great Hall; Total Loss tour

The score: R&B crooner Tom Krell is so obsessed with Janet Jackson that he created this devastating heather-pink T-shirt that excerpts lyrics from the Velvet Rope cut “Special” and juxtaposes them underneath a painting of a dead body. The most emotionally draining T-shirt I bought in 2012.
Mykki Blanco

The gig: Nov 18 at Wrongbar; Party from Hell tour

The score: The official shirt from the up-and-coming New York MC’s inaugural North American tour features an illustration of a maniacal mutant cat threatening to hose down a scantily clad woman who looks like she’s seen better days. The most NSFW shirt I bought in 2012.
Gentleman Reg

The gig: Dec 2 at the Gladstone Hotel; Leisure Life album release

The score: Another fruitful year of merch-table shopping ends with this striking but simple pink-and-gold gem created by artist Tyler Clark Burke for Toronto indie rocker Gentleman Reg. Two legs, two Ls, for Leisure Life.

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