I’m always intrigued to see a version of a gig poster available for sale at the gig – usually at a ridiculously high price. And then you see people with them, after or during; the poster scrunched up like the last bit of Christmas wrapping paper on the roll. A complete waste. I would never buy a poster for a gig – at the gig. Not at the start of the gig anyway. I did get a Kirstin Hersh numbered print after a gig had finished. To me that’s a different story.
We’ve kept a few of the gig posters I’ve either been given, have bought or – in some cases – have swiped. Some are framed, some are block-mounted, some were tacked to the wall but are currently rolled up because tacking them to the wall is what you do when you’re a student in a flat, not what adults who live in a house do, Simon!
To some the gig poster is pointless – to others it’s a cheap, effective piece of art. It’s also a reminder of good times and/or an announcement of (some of) your musical taste.
One of my favourite gig posters was an A4 photocopy of a Paul Ubana Jones gig from up at the ski-fields. Me and a friend drove four hours each way in one night to sit and watch Paul play to a small roomful of people. We had a drink with him after and I was keen to nab a souvenir. I got it signed by Paul. It lost a corner each time it was moved; it’s enjoyed wall-time in four different flats and is was rolled up, waiting. I should have got it blocked, it eventually crumbled and fell away it was so old and torn and worn…R.I.P That Poster.
I’ve also got a poster from the Gary Louris/Mark Olson tour from a half-decade ago or so. Ripped down from the wall after the gig; I got Louris to sign it – the gig was good but the real souvenir this time was because I had interviewed him. And then I had taken the chance to meet him in person, have a quick – awkward – chat after the gig. I am not sure if the poster will ever get wall-space but it seemed the right thing to do (but then, so did drinking 28 beers that night and introducing myself to Gary Louris. So the things we think seem smart or right aren’t always).
We nabbed a Connan Mockasin poster from Happy many years ago We have that one blocked. It’s on the wall. Same (local) artist as the Kristin Hersh poster.
And we also nabbed a Throwing Muses poster from their last gig here. Again, it seemed right. So right that we had it put in a frame. It looks cool (I reckon). It was a great gig. I had interviewed Kristin Hersh before the gig. And both Katy and I are huge fans of Hersh’s solo and Muses work. So it’s one for us to agree on. It references the Limbo cover too – one of my favourite albums.
I’ve also got a Head Like A Hole poster in a frame. It’s got a quote from me – from the Blog On The Tracks daze (in fact I had to write the quote for the poster, then make sure it turned up in a blog-post, they needed to get the posters off to be printed so I made up the quote for them, emailed it, then made sure I added that comment into the next day’s blog-post)– so that one has to have pride of place over the desk. It’s next to a framed cartoon from the New Yorker of two dogs staring at each other. One says “I used to have a blog but gave it up and went back to incessant barking”.
I’ve ended up with posters I don’t really need (Peaches) and I have ones that I would love to frame up and show off (Leonard Cohen) but haven’t yet sorted out a space, or money for framing.
Every poster (in our house) does have a story. I told you – at length – about the Prince Tui Teka poster-print I have. The story behind that is a lifetime of appreciation for one of our great entertainers. (And having very nice parents who have encouraged my love of music).
Some posters really are quite ugly. But a cool image/design is crucial to making me want to keep/hang a poster. A poster can be art – or made to seem like art – but it’s also not really. It’s no substitute for an original artwork. I’d rather a gig poster than a cheap, lazy art print. But I’d rather a decent piece of art than a room full of gig posters. That is until I get my man-cave with the drum-kit, guitars and floor-to-ceiling record shelves…which I’ve almost got an indoor-version of now anyway…and original art, lazy prints and gig-posters all get to mingle. And that’s probably how it should be.
Anyway, what are your thoughts on gig posters? Do you keep some? Do you have no interest? Is it something you did but grew out of? Is it something you’re just getting in to? And does the book Every Poster Tells A Story sound like something that would interest you either for yourself or as a gift for someone else?
Finally, what are the stories behind your posters? Do you have them because you played in the support band, or because you knew someone on the bill? Do you have them because you paid top dollar, or did you have to carefully sneak it from the wall while the gig was still going? What do you think of gig posters as a souvenir; a piece of musical ephemera that tells a story?
(And if you love badges, posters, stickers and/or t-shirts have I got the song for you!)