Dude, Be Cool: Here’s How NOT to Dress at Shows

Backpacks, bare chests — Man Man frontman Honus Honus shares some solid wisdom when it comes to show attire.

Here we are again. Uncle Honus here to share some observations you never knew you never wanted observed and, even after muscling through, you will still disagree with entirely. Today’s delightful topic: proper show attire.

Here’s a list, in no particular order, of show etiquette “no no’s” that I’ve encountered during my more than seven decades in the indie rock “biz.” If I’ve left anything out, (fellow music players) let me know:

DON’T…be an inconsiderate Sherpa.

Maybe you were studying late at school, lost track of time, and before you knew it the concert was suddenly upon you and there was no time to run home and drop off your collection of library books and overstuffed Trapper Keepers. Maybe work ran unexpectedly late and you had to change into your sexy show clothes in a filthy Chinatown Starbucks bathroom and barely made that Uber, train, whatever. Maybe you had a tiff with your roommate about who ate your leftover spring rolls and you accidentally snapped because of all those deep-seated, unpacked anger issues you didn’t know you had and the altercation turned darker than expected and suddenly you found yourself having to slowly dispose of your roomie in backpack-sized bundles, the guilt compounded by the fact that you ended up finding your spring rolls tucked behind the rice milk on the bottom shelve of the fridge. Whatever the reason may be, you brought your fucking backpack to the concert and now everybody has to deal with it.


I’ve had to bring a backpack to a show because of various circumstances, and it sucks because you look like a dork and you feel like a dork. It also sucks for whoever is standing behind you, to the left and right of you and anyone in front of you when you turn around. Basically, it sucks for everyone around you. Pretty simple, right? Whenever you move, the dead Yoda on your back moves with you and smacks whoever is in range in the face, boobs, chest, neck, shoulders, etc. If you don’t want a backpack filled with liquid, then be aware.

If you insist on wading into a crowded audience, just drop that sucker on the ground and secure it between your feet. Or do what I do and hide it somewhere you know you’ll remember that doesn’t look too shady. Or coat check it if the place is fancy enough. Or, my favorite, lean against a wall. It’s dumb that I have to write this stuff out, but somebody has to, right?

And, yes, I know photographers have to lug around bags of gear, but they should be aware, too, of the fans around them. Most photographers I’ve seen at shows are considerate enough to at least sling their bags in front of them like an extra belly or sleeping baby chimp. That’s a cool, considerate photographer. Me likey you.

DON’T…take your shirt off, bro.

Disclaimer, I don’t really care too much about this one, but I’ll take on the point of view of those who do because, hey, that’s what I’m here for. There are times to go skins instead of shirts and those entirely depend on what kind of show you’re attending. Here are a few times it’s OK to strip:

At a hardcore/punk/metal show: If someone is in the zone, having a good time, wiling out, I feel you. Go with it. If you’re moshing/slam-dancing/whatever around and your clothes get torn off or just get so sweaty they melt off like a stick of butter in Bulletproof Coffee, then I get it. That’s what you’re supposed to do. When I saw Jesus Lizard re-unite a couple years ago in Philly, David Yow’s jeans were torn to shreds after the first song. Go with it! If you’re not at one of those shows, keep your shirt on, bro. Only Anthony Kiedis and Flea get the pass, and those funky fuckers are flexing their funk on stage, dripping the funk.

At a festival: If you paid too much money to sweat in the sun all weekend, hear bad sound mixes, eat random drugs and buy twelve-dollar slices of pizza and eight-dollar bottles of water, then do your thing. Get weird. Bros will be bros and bros being bros will always want lady bros (or other bros) to check out their bro-awesomeness that they’ve worked (respectfully) hard to maintain. That’s what festivals are for. Prance, you glorious peacock, breed away.

If you’re at a rock show in a small venue, keep your fucking shirt on. I feel for the poor suckers who get trapped next to a shirtless goon and are constantly bumped into the thick brambles of sweaty, exposed back hair and have to spend time pulling wig samples from their teeth. POV Sweat Monster: I understand, you’re rocking out, it’s tough working up a sweat and having your shirt cling to you like a latex cleaning glove — but remember that at least it’s acting as a body hair barrier to those around you. Keep it on. I’d rather brush up again a sweaty, contained bag of flesh than have the contents spill out all over me, my face sliding off a sweaty armpit like a septic Crocodile Mile slip ’n’ slide.

Now, time to contradict myself. Sometimes I get a kick out of watching people have to deal with this shirtless turmoil. I’m looking at you, Darren Mabee. I love you, but I’d hate to have to be standing next to you at a show.

Here’s a tip to those who don’t want to be standing next to shirtless wonders. Just move. It sucks, but let other people taste the bacon.

DON’T…touch the mustache.

Mustaches be glorious things, but just because guys can grow them doesn’t mean that you can pull on them when you see them. Yes, they’re real, and yes, it hurts when you tug on them. That’s all there is to say about that one. You don’t see me going around and tugging your eyelashes, ladies. Unless that’s your thing. Call me. I could get into that.

(Photo credit: backpack: Jinx!. Header art: Dan Schmatz)

Ryan Kattner (aka Honus Honus), is a musician-songwriter, film/theater score composer, screenwriter, mustachioed multi-hyphenate living in Los Angeles. Texas-born, he grew up in the Philippines, South Carolina, Germany, Illinois, Alabama and Missouri before finally settling in Philadelphia and pouring his scattered upbringing into his bands Man Man and Mister Heavenly. He’s releasing his first solo album in 2016. Michael J. Fox as Teen Wolf is his spirit animal. You can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. (photo credit: Mike Gerry)