If you know me, you probably know that you don’t often see me wearing the same shirt twice. For the better part of the past ten years, I’ve been gaining a large collection of t-shirts, most of them being shirts for hardcore bands. The amount of shirts I’ve had has fluctuated up and down over the past few years, with at times having more than 200 different t-shirts. WHY DID I NEED SO MANY SHIRTS?! The short answer is that I didn’t, which I guess is why that number has dwindled. I currently have far less shirts than that, possibly as few as 100, maybe even as few as 75. Even then, 75 shirts is a lot. I ask myself the questions again: Why so many goddamned shirts? Considering a majority of these shirts are for hardcore bands, I think it ties into the fact that these shirts aren’t typically available for mass consumption. You can’t just go to a website, or your local Target, and buy one of these shirts to support something you’re passionate about. This means that I would typically buy at least one shirt of a band I liked when I would see them live, and it also means that if I saw a shirt being sold on eBay that I knew was only available at a show, I’d try to pick it up. The goal of this post is to highlight some shirts I really love, or think are really weird, or just have an interesting story for. Hopefully you can find something interesting in here, even if you’ve never seen the shirt before or have ever heard of the band that’s on the shirt.
The one that started it all
American Nightmare is a hardcore band out of Boston that was one of the first bands I had listened to that wasn’t bullshit on the radio. Through listening to them, I was introduced to lots of bands I loved, and some that I even still currently love. If you’re familiar with the band, you know that the angel logo, designed by Linas Garsys, is iconic for the band, and has been used in multiple different shirts, records, and other merchandise. The reason that this shirt is considered the one that “started it all” was because I remember seeing a friend of mine wearing it and wanting it REALLY badly. Despite having gone to see the band multiple times before they broke up, I never saw this shirt for sale at one of their shows. There were other shirts that they had printed that incorporated the angel logo, but none that had the angel, the band’s name, and the five stars on it. It took quite a few years to find the shirt for the price I was willing to pay, but I eventually found it. In retrospect, I think it was when I finally purchased this shirt that I stopped “hunting” for shirts, and probably only purchase a shirt once every month or two, as opposed to one or two shirts a week.
The one(s) that started it all [PART 2]
SLOW DOWN THERE, GUY. BEFORE I CAN SAY ANYTHING ELSE, YES, YOU ARE RIGHT, THESE ARE REPRINTS. The reason I felt like I wanted to admit to these being reprints of the original shirts is because these are the shirts I own currently, as well as wear regularly. I mentioned it’s been ten years or so since I started being involved in the hardcore scene, and it was probably 8 or 9 years ago that American Nightmare broke up. Preceding their breakup, they were being sued by a different band who were already named American Nightmare, so while the hardcore version was going through a name change, they were simply referring to themselves as “A N”. It was around this time that they printed the zippered hoodie, and I don’t know if I can really put my finger on why it happened, but everyone NEEDED that hoodie. It might have been because it proved you were “in”, because you could have only gotten that shirt at a certain time in the band’s history, or maybe it was because the letters were HUGE and unmistakable to anyone in the hardcore community, while also being incredibly vague to anyone who didn’t know what “A N” meant. Regardless, these sweatshirts were rare and were being sold to people across the internet for well over $100. I was even trying to convince my mom to buy one on eBay for me at different points and asking for it as a birthday present. Eventually, I found one at the right price online, and when the size medium arrived….IT DIDN’T FUCKING FIT! IT WAS TOO FUCKING SMALL! It was frustrating that I couldn’t wear it, but all that mattered was that I had it. Similar thing with that varsity style hoodie, that it proclaimed in huge letters “AMERICAN NIGHTMARE”, but was only sold in limited amounts and was tough to track down, but I eventually found one online for sale. When the size medium arrived…IT DIDN’T FUCKING FIT! IT WAS TOO FUCKING BIG! Luckily, after some of the band members realized how insane the prices for these sweatshirts were getting, they authorized someone to make reprints of these hoodies, seven or eight years after anyone could have possibly bought them. The price was around $35, which was a steal, and when the two sweatshirts I ordered arrived…THEY BOTH FIT FUCKING PERFECTLY! I was then able to sell the original versions of the sweatshirts for about what I paid, so now I can wear these sweatshirts for comfort, but still tell everyone that I owned the originals at one point, in case they think of calling me a poseur. Even though they weren’t my most sought after shirts, they were shirts I would start talking to people about and trying to trade with and learn the best ways to get shirts off the internet that were hard to find.
The one that proves I’m a giant poseur
As if I needed more reasons to look like a poseur, there’s this shirt for the band The Hope Conspiracy. Relatively simple shirt, just a viking looking awesome and the band’s name. How on Earth could this shirt make me look like a poseur? Well, let’s have a look at what’s on the back of the shirt…
In case you’re blind, it says “ICELAND – DECEMBER 17, 2005”. Guess what, guys…I wasn’t in Iceland on December 17th, 2005. In fact, I’ve never been to Iceland on any day of any year, so there’s no possible way that I could have purchased this shirt at that show. I mentioned earlier that a band typically only sells shirts, or limited versions/colors of shirts at their shows, so when you see someone wearing a shirt that you know they could have only gotten at a show or on a specific tour, it’s almost like a badge of honor. I’ve seen people wearing shirts from specific shows/tours and approached them, and mentioned having seen the same band around that same time to start up a conversation. A strange phenomenon I’ve witnessed at Bruce Springsteen concerts is that you are practically OBLIGATED to wear a Bruce Springsteen shirt, in order to easily determine who has the most experience with The Boss, based on chronological order. The older the shirt, the more obscure locations of the tour, the more that peers are expected to say things like, “Oh man, I wish I could have been there!”, or, “YOU were at that show?! I’m so jealous!”. By owning this shirt, that was only sold in Iceland for one specific show, if anyone ever approaches me and asks, “Hey man, were you at that show too?!”, I have to say, “Nope, I bought this shirt on eBay.” Totally lame.
The (possibly) rarest shirt I own
And boy is it ugly. This is a version of the very first shirt that the New Jersey hardcore band Tear It Up ever released. The original version of the shirt was printed with red ink on a white shirt. The reason why these shirts are funny is because the quote on the back reads: “…you always hurt the one’s you love.”, which is obviously a typo, since “one’s” is supposed to be plural and not possessive, but I digress. I saw this shirt being sold online and the seller was claiming that this shirt was made JUST for him, and it was because he was friends with the band and the person selling it claimed to love the Denver Broncos and that’s why the shirt was made on orange. I believed him, and bought it for around $15. I’ve never, EVER worn it, because it’s really fucking ugly. I put it in a box and was okay with knowing I knew I owned a 1 out of 1 Tear It Up shirt, and I thought I was special. As years past, I got more and more doubtful of this being an authentic Tear It Up shirt, and that it was just a bootleg that someone made. I told this story to my friend, Billy the NJHC Warrior, who has connections to the band members. Sadly, the information I received didn’t help. When brought up, the anonymous source from inside the band talked about how all of these shirts were just made in the band members’ kitchens, and there were plenty of one-off shirts and test shirts on different colors. This makes me believe that this is the only shirt of this color with the original design, yet I now doubt that this isn’t the ONLY Tear It Up shirt that only exists in once color, considering all of the other accidental shirts or colorways made for various friends. The shirt is ugly as shit, so I’ll probably never wear it, and I doubt anyone will ever buy it, but at least I have that story for it.
The most offensive shirts I own
I wish I could say I only had one REALLY offensive shirt, but these are all equally fucked up. I don’t necessarily make it a point to wear these shirts out in public, because I don’t want to look like too big a of a dick, but if I know I’m not going to be leaving the house or if I know I’m going to be wearing a sweatshirt, all of these shirts are fine to wear.
I’m pretty sure that this shirt was made the afternoon that people found out that Jerry Falwell had died, because I don’t know how Ceremony could have gotten them printed out so quickly. Granted, this shirt isn’t offensive for the sake of being offensive, as much as it is angry because of how big of a piece of shit Jerry Falwell was. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t even say that this is Ceremony’s most offensive shirt, because they released a shirt a few years later with the American flag on it with the words “BURN THIS FLAG”. I’m not saying I was offended, as it looked like the shirt a character wore in Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses, but I remember reading a lot of people online bitching and moaning about either being offended or about being offensive simply because you had already started that trend.
I only got to see the band Spanish Bombs one time, but it was awesome. They only had a demo with them at the time, which I didn’t buy, but I kept on the lookout for anything they were selling online. In case you can’t figure out what the image is of, it’s a hand spreading open a vagina, that has wings and eyes and mouths and ears, and there’s blood coming from either the vagina or the butthole. I think if I knew the female anatomy better, that wouldn’t be as hard for me to figure out. The reason you know it’s a Spanish Bombs shirt is because the fingers spreading the vagina open clearly have an S and a B on them, duh. I have another one of their shirts which has a dude with a mullet wearing a crown with “Spanish Bombs” written on it, and the dude is puking out the words “HEY GIRL”, and I think they have another shirt that has a bunch of curses on it, including “CUNT”. Very, very classy.
Not necessarily my favorite band or anything, but Meltdown is a hardcore band from Massachusetts, so if they release a shirt with Satan jerking off and cumming the band’s name on one side, and promote things like getting laid and hailing Satan on the other side, YOU CAN BET I’LL SPEND MONEY ON IT AND BE EMBARRASSED TO WEAR IT.
The only ones I’ll ever need
As much as I enjoy having the option of wearing as many shirts as I own, I can’t help but choose a few favorites. The following are just some shirts that I love to wear, but typically refrain from wearing. As lame as it sounds, I know that when I wear one of these shirts, it’ll be a long time before I’ll have the option of wearing it if I wanted, because it’ll be at the bottom of my laundry bag. Is that lame? That’s really lame.