Most bands sell merchandise at their shows. For years, if I even vaguely enjoyed a band, I would buy a CD, sticker, or shirt to support the arts. Minimalizing one’s lifestyle might imply advocating for the opposite. Fewer of my pesos do pollinate the pockets of performers, however, purchasing with purpose should always be the way to go. If you can answer yes to “will I still listen to this in ten years?,” buy away!
I have more regrets about buying concert merchandise than not buying concert merchandise. I didn’t know about merchandise tables when I saw minibosses so I missed the convenience of supporting them in person… and I’m sure there are others. Mostly, though, I owned and still own things from bands that I saw and liked well enough, but never followed, until revisiting them years later to discover that without the attachment of the live performance, it was just another album.
I’ve been to shows that have knocked out the mental baggage from my mind. Those are the performances I’ll remember without physical souvenirs or photographic stills. Having souvenirs of those special moments enhance and reinforce those memories, embedding that special moment into the mundanity of the present. Buying souvenirs of everything just seems like such a waste because even if that supports others following their dreams, if it’s a materialistic albatross for me, what’s its use?
I’d rather try to capture the ephemeral moments that make things worthwhile. Watching a moshpit suddenly form, with two rows of people in front of me and that chaos, reminds me that the problems we encounter in life can appear and disappear instantaneously. I have thousands of concert photos I’ve taken over the years that I’ve underutilized, like the concert merchandise I’ve bought over the years, so part of this merchandise intentionality applies to my photography as well.
I mostly value photographic souviners over physical souvenirs. They represent specific moments in time irreplaceable. The neon lighting, almost turning Arkona’s new logo of a typographical abstraction of an animal’s skull, into something more cyberpunk than archaic. Why not take a few moshpit photos at just below eye level to show its potency? I’m partial to behind-the-scenes shots so I’ll explore the area and take photos of the area just outside the crowd with the light reflecting off empty tables.
I’ll still buy merchandise to support bands. I bought my first new CD, Katk Kutsariks, in forever only because I’d already heard it twice before and I could see myself still listening to Metsatöll in 2029. I’ve just stopped researching bands before seeing them live. If they’re impressive enough, I’ll seek them out. Kerr Ring were nearly there. If their name popped up on a concert calendar in the next year or two along with some other bands, I would consider seeing them again. Same for Arakus.
This essay and my formal concert reviews have been my souvenirs. Capturing your experiences in your own words is always better than trying to buy them.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: The usual merch booth shout-out, which I always 100% support, if only for the aforementioned minibosses example. Now that I’m writing on my smartphone abroad most frequently, I’m becoming more comfortable opening up my writing app, jotting down some notes, then referring to them later. Why not do this? That way, when you’re scratching for ideas, you can just refer to your neverending list of ideas on things to write about. Also, although I’m mostly done writing formal concert reviews, I still go to shows, and I still have opinions, I’m just more honest with myself that I only have maybe 10 to 50 words to say about a band, and most of the time, it’s “I like this band” or “I like this part” so why not use my platform to showcase bands that don’t suck? So I’ll stop writing reviews about bad bands unless their badness was particularly cruel and use shows as examples for things. See the essay that will publish in a few days called “Pushing Through Crowds” for a cluttered example.|
|Related: Other Downsizing Zeal essays and Concert Reviews.|
|Photos: Using their file names, and as a side note, I had intended for them to be in order but as I wrote and considered, this order felt more right for me:
zd-buyconsou6 – Arkona, at a table along the stage
zd-buyconsou1 – Metsatöll
zd-buyconsou3 – moshpit
zd-buyconsou4 – Arkona
zd-buyconsou5 – Arkona, at a table in the back
zd-buyconsou2 – Kerr Ring
|Written On: September 17th [62 minutes, from 8:20am to 9:22am, WordPress]|
|Last Edited: September 17th [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|