What do I wear?!
With The Black Flag being the definitive online source for alternative culture and music, you could be forgiven for assuming that – in between writing and posting award winning articles (the awards are yet to come but they will)- we are sat around in Black Flag towers wearing eye liner, painting each other’s nails black and slaughtering the odd vestal virgin or two. Whilst I can’t deny that the first two don’t ever happen (and as for the third I am legally bound to deny all knowledge), I am – at least – for the most part, probably as average in the alternative world as you can be. This leads me onto a problem I am going to encounter more and more as The Black Flag envelops me in its warm, dark embrace….
I was recently asked to attend and review a forthcoming gig, that of the ‘anti-christ’ himself Marilyn Manson. As it turned out I had a prior commitment so couldn’t go (painting my nails black since you asked) but it leads me to ask myself, if I was going to go, what on earth would I wear?
The below photo is from a site run by a photographer who attended a wide variety of gigs and took photos of the fans attending. This is from a Manson gig.
Pretty much your typical Manson fan, I think you’ll agree. Now, it took me all of 60 seconds to cast my eyes over my wardrobe for me to realise I don’t have a huge leather trench coat, a sleeveless leather vest, a pair of leather trousers (spotting a trend here? Clearly Manson fans are not concerned over the stock levels of cows) or indeed, a mock military hat. However, as it happens I don’t mind the odd bit of Manson on my record player. I own two albums and recently listened to the single ‘No Reflection’ from his latest album ‘Born Villain’ and found it to be pretty good – certainly it sounds like the album is worthy of a review on these fair pages in the not too distant future. Now, does the fact that I choose not to dress in a similar fashion to him mean I am not a ‘true’ fan who can attend his gigs? And if I did go to one of his shows in ‘non Manson regalia’ am I suddenly going to be ostracised by the painted masses?
I don’t have any issue with fans being dedicated enough to mirror their idols in their own personal fashion but it does make it rather polarising for those people that might well be a fan of an artist who don’t dress the same but who want to attend events. Do you have to change your ‘look’ for every gig you want to go too depending on what the artist/fan base might be wearing?
For me – and this is my view only – the beauty of the alternative music scene is that it is welcoming of all people or rather, it should be. I know fans will always have their favourites and there will always be discussions and disagreements over the merits of artists but someone’s fashion sense shouldn’t predetermine their preferences or preclude them from showing their support by attending events. Manson as an artist is probably less shocking and ‘extreme’ than he once was and there are far more alternative artists out there these days than there ever has been. With my lack of leather, tattoo’s, piercings and painted features how I am going to fit in, for example, at a Combichrist gig?
In fairness though I have no idea how I would feel or if there would be any reaction (negative or positive) to my appearance at such an event as a Manson gig. For all I know my concerns over my lack of leather and ‘alternative’ look might be misplaced and at worse, misguided. My seminal 70’s/rock n roll/folk look (what a mixture!) might be welcomed with opened tattooed arms by the fans there.
Ultimately, I think you should dress how you want, listen to what you want and go where you want (in the boundaries of the law obviously. – I am not advocating burglary here). Maybe the key is for me to go to such a gig/event and see if the alternative scene is as welcoming as I hope. So, if you are planning attending a gig in the near future, one where the fan base might well be leather wearing painted die-hards and happen to see a tall, rather skinny guy in flares, boots and a ‘hippy’ shirt do me a favour and come over and say hi….
Words: Brian McKay