Step Up to the Concert Merch Table

rock show merch
[Editor’s Note: Even as live music has been temporarily sidelined, we can take a moment to appreciate some of the stranger “merch” we’ve picked up at concerts past. It will be kinda interesting to see what’s created once bands get back on the road.]


One of the best parts of being a music fan is collecting your favorite band’s merch. Usually, that means records, t-shirts, hats, and pins. But some bands like to put a more unique touch into their swag. Here are a few bands that try to put at least one item on their merch table you just won’t see anywhere else. Everyone knows about KISS and their proclivity for slapping their faces onto as many different products as they can (including condoms and coffins), here are some other groups who went out of their way to sell their fans something interesting via their concert merch.

 A Monogrammed Hankie – Amanda Palmer

Bandanas may be pretty standard for a band to carry in their merch bin but a monogrammed hankie is not. That is probably why Avant-guard queen Amanda Palmer decided to sell them. She was just trying to let her fans know that it’s okay to cry. Palmer began carrying this item a few years ago and it has really become one of the most popular on her merch table. Palmer has always been known to march to the beat of her own drum, and the hankie tracks as pretty “normal” compared to the abstract musician’s usual antics.

Prayer Candle – Supa Joint

Phoenix, Arizona’s Supa Joint has evolved from the mascot of marijuana to the patron saint of leafy greens. The cartoonish weed-based character made the step-up official by producing his own line of prayer candles. With his huge hair, tights, and bright colors, Supa Joint was already a one of a kind persona. But the inclusion of the prayer candles in his shtick has made the joke simply divine.

Air Freshener – OK Go

 People can say a lot about the mid-2000’s rock band OK Go, but nobody could ever say they stink! The reason being is that back in 2012 the group decided to put out a line of car air-fresheners with their faces emblazoned on them. The air fresheners were a limited run and have since ceased productions, but they are definitely one of the weirdest pieces of band merch ever.

 A Brick – Eminem

 This one was not available at the merch table, but to go along with the re-release of his sophomore album Marshall Mathers EP Eminem was selling bricks from his childhood home in Detroit. It truly was one of the most unique pieces of merch an artist has ever sold, and considering the magnitude of Em’s career, is a true piece of music history. Couple that with the fact that “Slim Shady” only sold 750 bricks from the house and what you’re left with is quite possibly the most unique piece of band merch in music history.

Trembling Fetus Christmas tree ornament – The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips and their stalwart frontman Wayne Coyne are already considered some of the biggest weirdos in the music industry. From the giant hands to the bubble man, these guys are justly considered oddballs. So naturally, in keeping with expectations, the group decided to sell one of the strangest pieces of merch ever with their trembling fetus Christmas tree ornament. The trembling fetus was already part of Coyne’s more-than-bizarre stage show, but making the take-home version a part of the Christmas season is the kind of decision that only he could ever explain.

-J.S. Moses

Photo: Concert shot by ProtoplasmaKid via Wikimedia Commons




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1 comment on “Step Up to the Concert Merch Table

  1. Gary Theroux

    After paying ridiculously padded fees for concert tickets, why not blow the rest of your money on overpriced merchandise at the souvenir tables? I’ve seen people buy the same CDs they could get anywhere else (like Amazon) lay out two to three times the normal retail price. That being said, some of the “unique” items can be fun collectables nonetheless — and, if the fans know it or not, can directly benefit the stars they came to see. I remember years ago emceeing a sold-out concert by the late Johnny Maestro (formerly lead singer of The Crests) and his then current group, the Brooklyn Bridge. After the show I congratulated Johnny on the fact that he’d packed the place and commented that the show must have been pretty lucrative for him. He responded by saying that he was actually getting very little from the ticket sales and that he’d show me where his real money was coming from. Crossing backstage, we emerged behind his merchandise tables — manned by memberd of the Brooklyn Bridge. The tables were stacked with everything from T shirts and bumper stickers to toys, posters, etc. A big draw were the Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge LPs, cassettes and CDs that were on sale –a remarkably steep prices. Not owning the masters of any of the hits he’d recorded in the ’50s and ’60s (“Sixteen Candles,” “The Angels Listened In,” “The Worst That Could Happen,” etc.), Johnny and his band has simply (and inexpensively) re-recorded soundalike versions of all of them plus othe standards and even a bunch of Christmas tunes. Those masters were then compiled into five or six different abums and the fans were eagerly buying all of them at the same time. Long since amortized, Johnny proudly told me that the sales of his remakes plus all the rest of his merchandise was what made concertizing for him so immensely profitable. Sure, in every show, he had to perform exactly the same set of songs just like the records — and did so thousands of times over the decades, but doing so was more than worth it — financially and as an ego stroke — for Johnny Maestro, whose aging (and mostl female) fans truly adored him.. Fortunately for Johnny, he remained in excellent voice for the rest of his life — passing away at age 70 in 2010.

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