With festivals, tours, and concerts canceled, and no end in site, bands are feeling financially strapped. For a musician, touring is their largest source of income, and in some cases, that includes the salaries of guitar techs, tour managers, sound engineers, and more. So, what can we do to support our favorite bands during this tumultous time? Aside from generous virtual tips during an artist's live streaming concert, you can also treat yourself to some of their merchandise. I don't know about you, but retail therapy is just what my anxious brain needs right now, plus, you're helping some of your favorite bands make ends meet 'til they can get back on the road. Win-win.
KEXP is rounding up some of our favorite items from bands who've been impacted by the coronavirus, to help inspire you to do your own online shopping. It goes without saying that buying t-shirts and albums is always a good way to go, but here are some of the more unconventional things we've found. So, walk on over to the virtual merch table, add to cart, and show your support 'til they can get back on stage.
(Also, just for reassurance, the Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance maintain there is no evidence the coronavirus is spreading through the mail.)
When it comes to band merch, Michelle Zauner is kinda crushing the game. (In case you missed our interview with her last year, she pretty much excels at everything.) In addition to these ridiculously-adorable socks, she's also got a pom-pom beanie, a shot glass, and — though, sadly, out of stock right now — the obviously-popular Japanese Breakfast chopsticks. Plus, Zauner works with Asian and Asian-American designers to create these stand-out pieces. Japanese Breakfast were among the hundreds of bands scheduled to appear at the Treefort Music Fest in Boise, ID, in late March, but the festival has been postponed to September 23 - 27.
Run the Jewels aren't too shabby in the merch department either. The Meow the Jewels cat food dish may be long sold out, and their "Love Again" candy hearts are out of stock, but you can still get this sleek branded wristwatch and let Killer Mike and El-P help keep you punctual. (While it's out-of-season, this holiday sweater vest deserves a mention, as does this RTJ branded FIFA '18 soccer ball.) The guys were supposed to be on tour right now with a reunited Rage Against the Machine, but postponed their dates due to the coronavirus pandemic. They're hoping to resume their scheduled dates in May, which is probably when their fourth album — titled Run the Jewels 4, natch — will be released.
We were all pretty amused when John Darnielle released the limited-edition 7" single Welcome To Passaic last year, which featured the previously-unreleased track "Get High And Listen To The Cure" (originally written for the 2017 LP Goths, no surprise). So, I was certainly amused to find that he's selling a hemp pouch with the song title printed on it. And while you can't actually get high on hemp, the natural fabric is rich with CBD and other cannabinoids like terpenes... and y'know, to make a really dated reference, you can put your weed in it. Speaking of "dated", you can also get an '80s-style velcro wallet or, to get reaaally dated, this set of wooden nickels. The Mountain Goats are scheduled to start a tour in late April; here's hoping the ban on "social, spiritual, and recreational" gatherings is over by then.
The future is looking mighty uncertain right now, so thank goodness garage-pop-gals Vivian Girls have produced this Tarot Card set featuring 78 cards, all illustrated by Cassie Ramone. The decks were produced to promote the band's comeback album, Memory — do you think the cards may have predicted they'd end their five year hiatus and return with new music?? Ramone, apparently, is a believer in Tarot Cards, telling Taco Homo, "I’m waiting for someone to give me a deck so I can start doing readings, it’s something I think I could be really good at. Whenever I’ve gotten mine read it’s been truly accurate and insightful." Polyvinyl, surely you've hooked a (Vivian) girl up by now? What could be better than having Cassie give you a reading with cards she designed herself?
Self-care is always important, but especially during such an incredibly difficult time like this. Need some fatherly guidance? How about from the dad of Nada Surf frontman Matthew Caws? Yes, not only is Peter Caws a proud pop of Matty, he's also the University Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at The George Washington University, and he has written The Book of Hylas, a set of meditations on life and how to live it (in case the R.E.M. song wasn't enough help). The 10" record features the elder Caws reading his meditations against a backdrop of music by Boston-based group Parkington Sisters. And it's all packaged in a beautiful linen-wrapped hardcover book, individually numbered, and adorned with gold foil illustrations by award-winning illustrator and comic artist, Line Hoven. Can you put a price on inner peace? Yes, they did, but if that's out of your price range, you can also download digital copies on MP3 and FLAC if you need some soothing sounds and Let Go isn't quite working.
The Goths album outtake re-emerges as a b-side.
From the magic of the New York subway to rock discos in Munich, the Nada Surf lead singer tells the story of each track on the band's third album.