In the alternative music subcultural scene it’s common to put patches of favorite bands and labels on your jacket (or shirt, or pants, or whatever) to identify with that subculture. A single band patch can say a lot about the way you see yourself, and say a lot to others about the sort of things you’re into. Everything from politics to simple aesthetic taste. It used to be that the only places you could get such merchandise was at the show or concert, so a kind of “legitimacy” or “street cred” came from sporting the patch of an alternative band. Of course it came to be that you could then write to the band for their merchandise, and then labels and eventually retailers began offering mail order merch. A couple of these have a kind of street cred themselves, having only existed for a brief time during a certain era. Authenticity and street cred is kind of nonsense anyway, it’s really just a way of saying, “I knew about this before you did so I am better than you.” But then again, these days you can buy merch just about anywhere. Concert T-shirts? Forget it. I remember when showing up to school the day after a concert and wearing the T-shirt you bought there made you the coolest kid in junior high. There was even credit given to kids who were seeing unpopular bands, because they were still getting to go out of town and do things with their friends and without their parents. You could get almost the same T-shirt from the local record store, but unless it had the dates and cities on the back it was just a regular T-shirt. These days you can buy “vintage” concert T-shirts, with original tour dates and everything, and they even come distressed so they look like they might have come from that era. Which is balls, even if you don’t care about “music scene street cred” like I really don’t. Because I don’t care about that sort of nonsense; this is all just a preamble to my music patch collection.
The Ducky Boys, one of my older surviving patches. A nice example of DIY patch making, just a screen printed logo on a piece of canvas. A lot of the old school mail order places offered huge lines of stuff like this because they were so easy and cheap to make. A few places on the internet still sell mass loads of these, but it’s not nearly as cool unless a band member or his girlfriend spent their own time laboring over it. Otherwise it’s just a crass copyright or trademark infringement. But I digress, I got this patch at the Dropkick Murphy’s / Ducky Boys show in Lawrence at the Bottleneck back in… 1999? I was sort of puzzled that I don’t still have the DKM patch anymore, but after thinking about it I probably gave it away to one of my younger friends. I stopped caring about DKM after they released “The Gang’s All Here”.
In the same vein, here’s an incredibly generic mass produced screenprint on canvas patch. An ex-girlfriend of mine gave this to me, and I can’t even remember why, but it was around 2002. My relationship with Oi! music is complicated by the fact that I am not “working class”, but to hell with it, I like music about drinking, fighting, and chasing girls, and it doesn’t matter what the excuse is, really. It probably came from one of the aforementioned mail order houses forever ago. Actually it probably came from one of her ex-boyfriends leaving it her house, but such is life.
Ruskabank, a local ska band from Manhattan, Kansas. They had a radio hit with their song “My Friends” back in 1999 off their album “This Took Some Time“. I still haven’t bought their second album, which is kind of weird considering how much I liked their first one and that they’re local, but there it is. I’ve drank with some of the guys at Aunti Mae’s in Manhattan, and from what I remember they’re decent folks.
The Piestasters… oh man, what can I tell you about the first time I saw them in Lawrence in… 2000. Definitely 2000, because we were all still living in that ramshackle fire hazard of a slum in North Lawrence. But… I don’t remember much about the show other than there was some formal apologies that had to happen before they let me back in the venue. The last thing I really remember was the band buying me shots from onstage, there’s a blurry image of a cinder block flying through the air out in the street, and then cut back to my house somehow with one of my roommates shaking me so hard I vomited because he was mad that his girlfriend threw a milkshake at him and it was somehow my fault. Or something. Don’t listen to ska music, kids, it will just make you throw up on your shoes and get people mad at you.
The Pilfers, which I think was some kind of side project that never got off the ground. There was a lot of that going around in the late nineties and early 2000’s when the ska frenzy was starting to fade. The 3rd Wave blew up huge on college campuses, but it never really worked out because the audience making it popular was frat kids, and the people making the music and really into the originating subculture were punks and skins and stuff, so it was a really odd combination thing going on. Sort of like that transition period where you could go to a Dropkick Murphy’s show and half the audience were skinheads and the other half were suburban kids who had never heard their previous albums. And the DKM got put on tour by their label with Antiflag opening for them, and that was a laugh all the way around. But I digress, here is my old Pilfers patch, who I really go into because of the song “Saga” (which I won’t link to Youtube because the only version I could find had been digitally raped):
The Toasters is one of those bands I’ve liked since I got into Ska, but never got a chance to see until recently. I saw them last year in Lawrence at the Jackpot, where the local band Checkered Beat opened for them. This patch, therefore, is not old at all since I only buy and wear patches for shows that I’ve actually been to. My buttons are where I will show off general tastes, but patches have always been a “had to have been there” type of thing for me.
Bad Manners rocks! I loved getting the chance to see them play live several years ago in Kansas City. Fun fact: I was the fattest guy there. Now, when you’re the fattest guy at a Bad Manners show, you know you need to go on a diet…
I’m not above buying things on eBay if I like them. This was pictured as more… rectangular. What came was this compressed version of the logo, but I guess it’s still cool. It shipped from England, so I have no idea who made it or where it was originally sold, though I’m assuming it was either during the big reissue period when Trojan released tons of compilations representative of different eras and musical movements. Or some enterprising Englishman made some knock-offs and I got one. Either way, it’s a neat patch and I like it.
I know exactly where this 2Tone patch came from: a place called Modern Suede that specializes in catering to the scooterist community. It’s one of my more recent acquisitions, since I’ve been wanting it for years but never bothered to buy it until just now.
This next 2Tone patch has a bit more of an interesting history. It’s very probably one of those cheap knock-offs from an early mail order company, but I got it from a secondhand shop in Westport, Kansas City, when I bought an old maroon flight jacket. The jacket was too small for me, but I bought it anyway, took the patch off of it, and then traded it for a larger maroon flight jacket that a friend of mine had that was too large for her. Everybody happy in the end, right? I have no idea what happened to flight jacket I ended up with. I think I gave it to a girl when I got too big to wear it anymore or summat.
I have this patch because we took it off the jacket of a friend of ours. I don’t remember what the thinking was, except maye we were enforcing some kind of consistency of theme to his patches / messing with him because we could. Probably just messing with him because we could. At any rate, I’ve never really been into the Dead Kennedys, but I can’t bring myself to throw away a perfectly good patch, so here it is:
The following is sort of representative of the attitude I used to have when I was a “hooligan” type. Politics was for the birds, and as a staunchly antisocial punker I would loudly play whatever I thought would piss off the most people. Booze makes you do crazy things.
As a caveat to that last one, I would like to point out that the swastika, also called the fylfot, is legitimately used by religious groups ranging from Buddhists, Native Americans, Asatru/Heathens like myself, and many others across the globe and throughout history, including today. It’s use here as a political thing is in no way representative of its total use, and I myself use it in non-political religious ways that has nothing to do with nazism or radical racial politics. So take this picture of this patch of the swastika and isolate it to a political context, then realize that if I ever used it, or the anti-communist and very racist patch to its right, it was just for a laugh and to try to point out the hypocrisies of others who I thought were being even more obnoxious than I was. I used to like to wind people up when they were full of themselves and inflicting their BS on other people, so there it is.
So those are all the patches that either survived my punk rock years or were purchased out of nostalgia more recently. I honestly though I would have had more than that, but I guess not. I know there must have been some others, but like the DKM patch were probably given to friends who liked the bands more than I did at some point. This ends another installment of my weird patch collection fetish.