At any moment in just about every part of the world, you can spy a piece of band merchandise. Fans often wear clothing embellished with the logos of their favorite bands to help them express who they are to strangers. And now, perhaps more than ever, bands are embracing merchandising and creating new and innovative pieces that go beyond classic tour T-shirts, hoodies and patches.
Over the last couple years one area of merchandising that has particularly gained popularity is T-shirts for women. I'm not talking about T-shirts emblazoned with the same design displayed on men's shirts but in smaller sizes, but shirts made with special, female-friendly designs with shapes and fabrics created with women in mind. And some bands go deep into the wardrobe. I recently purchased workout shorts from GRAMMY-nominated metal group Mastodon with the word "A**todon" written on the rear, as well as "booty shorts" from the likes of the Darkness, Cannibal Corpse, Hank III, and more.
I've also seen great scarves from the likes of Rammstein and the Horrors, a unique wearable item great for these cold winter months. But, hands down, the best item I've seen this season was a Slayer Christmas sweater.
Municipal Waste has some of the most creative merch. I've seen them toss out branded frisbees at concerts and they even have their own snuggie. Nothing says metal like a bright-blue snuggie.
Rock duo One-Eyed Doll make a lot of their own band merch, adding a custom one-of-a-kind flair to items their fans eat up.
Some of my favorite items are those that are limited to that night's concert, such as gig posters. Poster art captures the uniqueness of the show as it includes the date, venue and artist lineup, and is usually created by a locally commissioned artist. The best posters are on good paper stock, numbered and signed by the artist.
Some bands even sell live recordings of the concert you attended as the ultimate keepsake. Kiss and Metallica have both offered professional quality recordings of their shows.
While visiting GRAMMY winner Jack White's Third Man Records last year, I purchased a limited-edition Jack White USB flash drive, marking one of the most unique pieces of merch I've ever purchased. Coldplay utilized Xylobands to turn their audience into an LED billboard at concerts. The remaining wristband became a take home souvenir for many.
I've spent many hours before and after concerts at the holy grail, aka the merch booth, salivating over items that will become memorabilia for years to come. Even now that the merch booth is also available online, shopping for items swathed in my favorite band's logos is still an integral part of my music experience.