As I was walking out the door to go to my first rock concert decades ago, my father interrogated me about my attire (for the record, a button-down Oxford cloth shirt and a pair of Levi’s.). He asked why, if I was going to a concert, was I not wearing a jacket and tie? When I told him that no one would be dressed like that, he assured me that “the Jefferson Airplanes will all be wearing jackets and ties.” (For the record, they were not.)
Today, I’m the Old Fart rolling his eyes and tut-tutting at what people wear and how much thought they obviously expend putting together an ensemble.
In my prime rock ‘n’ roll warrior days, your biggest concern was timing your intake of psychedelics. Done right, you’d be peaking just as the band kicked into your favorite song. Done wrong, you’d be battling flying purple lizards on the drive home.
Back then, clothing was an afterthought. These days, attending a rock show (or festival) can mean putting a lot of planning into your “look.”
I know this because I read an article in our local daily last week that offered a fashion guide to the Austin City Limits Festival. The writer asked three local artists who are appearing at the show to create a look based on their ACL Fest “muse.”
Consulting your muse and planning a look is a far cry from rock’s Golden Age, when your most critical fashion decision was the t-shirt. You could bust out your fave Grateful Dead T—the one you scored in ’72 at Red Rocks, the one with the roach burn right on top of the dancing bear’s head. Or you could rock the “Rastafari Live Up” tie-dye you got in Jamaica (“Second Sunsplash, bruh. Saw Marley. Fuckin’ irie.”)
Beyond that, you gave it no thought. But that doesn’t make it today. The writer recalled her attempt at a punky ‘80s vibe, and an artist interviewed called her own style a conflation of “edgy rocker and sweet bohemian with a velvet floral crop-top blouse paired with chunky-heeled, metal-embellished boots.” Why not? It worked for Robert Plant; no reason it can’t work for her.
But what does the Rocker of a Certain Age wear for ACL Fest? Well, last weekend’s ensemble of skull-emblazoned boxer shorts paired with an XL Ren and Stimpy t-shirt was a huge hit with my crew so I’m reprising it this weekend. It’s not only flattering, but comfy as hell – just the thing for enjoying the festival from my deck.
Oh, and one more thing: you call that noise music? Listen, when I was a kid …
Totally concur with your choices in concert fashion backinnaday. I used to put a lot of thought into it and whether I was working the concert soundboard, back-stage, on the limo ride or at the band’s after party the decision was always the same…faded jeans, scuffed boots and one of a handful of significantly hip t-shirts all of which were faded and either tie dye or concert. Really with the right uber hip “tude”, of which I always was well supplied, you could pull most things off …except a jacket and tie like The Airplanes. Now that I think of it perhaps Dr Carmack meant fringed leather or tie dye.