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These Walls Can Talk: Our Favorite Concert Posters and Stories

on October 31, 2013, 11:44am

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Last week, Daniel Kohn wrote at great lengths about the power of concert posters in his Aux.Out. piece, “Keep This Concert Forever: The Creators and Collectors of Concert Posters.” One of the artists he spoke with was Grouplove’s Hannah Hooper, who described the growing fascination with the merchandise best: “A poster can be something that you can just buy, and I know it’s a bit fancier, but I love that it’s something you can get at the merch table and you can go home and it’s a piece of art. And that it’s directly associated to the show that night — hopefully a good show and a positive memory.” Because we’re also concert fanatics, Consequence of Sound’s staff decided to turn to their walls and tell their own stories. Odds are this will be an evolving list, so check back and feel free to share your own tales and posters below.

Bon Iver - One of the greatest, life-affirming shows I have ever seen, Bon Iver's stirring Bonnaroo set back in 2006 was the epitome of a breakout performance.  Vernon transformed his intimate, whispy songs into full fledged scuzz-rock odysseys. I realized he was bound for even greater glory, right then and there, from the front row. When I saw a vendor selling this print, with its beautiful woodcut bear and sun, I knew I would have to have it.  - Drew Litowiz

One of the greatest, life-affirming shows I have ever seen, Bon Iver’s stirring Bonnaroo set back in 2009 was the epitome of a breakout performance. Vernon transformed his intimate, whispy songs into full-fledged scuzz-rock odysseys. I realized he was bound for even greater glory, right then and there, from the front row. When I saw a vendor selling this print, with its beautiful woodcut bear and sun, I knew I would have to have it. –Drew Litowiz

Foo Fighters at the Metro? I still thank my lucky stars for this one. They actually handed these out for free as everyone walked out. I gave mine to a friend who missed out, so this one actually belongs to my fiance. It would really suck if she got this in the divorce; one of the best shows I've ever attended. - Michael Roffman

Foo Fighters at the Metro? I still thank my lucky stars for this one. They actually handed these out for free as everyone stumbled away in a daze. I gave mine to a friend who didn’t get one, so this poster actually belongs to my fiance. Yeah, it would really suck if she got this in a divorce; one of the best shows I’ve ever attended. –Michael Roffman

I was laid off from my job on Wednesay with this festival looming that weekend. Needless to say, a severance package and a trip to Vegas for the ultimate boutique music celebration was plenty comforting. Ted Leo won the fest, and the best thing I saw was his covers battle set with Fucked Up. Just over three years since, and losing that job was the best thing that could have happened to me. - Philip Cosores

I was laid off from my job on Wednesday with this festival looming that weekend. Needless to say, a severance package and a trip to Vegas for the ultimate boutique music celebration was plenty comforting. Ted Leo won the fest, and the best thing I saw was his covers battle set with Fucked Up. Just over three years since, and losing that job was the best thing that could have happened to me. –Philip Cosores

jamesblake These Walls Can Talk: Our Favorite Concert Posters and Stories

A few months before this show, the hype behind James Blake’s self-titled album was staggering. The 11-song stint circulated through my iTunes everyday for months. Initially, Blake was set to play his first Chicago show at the 300-person capacity hideout Schubas, but it sold out instantaneously. I was pissed in the worst way possible after missing out on a ticket (just ask my roomates). But, continuous demand moved the post-dubstep guruu to the beautiful Lincoln Hall, allowing me to finally obtain a ticket and witness such an landmark set at one of Chicago’s best spots. –Sam Willett

Bill Callahan - I just picked this up earlier this month on Callahan's Dream River tour.  I love the simplicity, the negative space, and the old-time typography, all fitting perfectly with Callahan's calm, beautiful, and solemn post-modern Americana.  - Drew Litowitz

I just picked this up earlier this month on Callahan’s Dream River tour. I love the simplicity, the negative space, and the old-time typography, all fitting perfectly with Callahan’s calm, beautiful, and solemn post-modern Americana. –Drew Litowitz

Incredible String Band 1971 - I was a huge fan and think I saw the ISB fourteen times from 69-74. Pictured is the delightful Licorice who was Robin Williamson's girlfriend and a full band member for a time. - Tony Hardy

I was a huge fan of The Incredible String Band 1971 and think I saw them 14 times from 69-74. Pictured is the delightful Licorice who was Robin Williamson’s girlfriend and a full band member for a time. –Tony Hardy

Show was sweaty and passionate. Everybody arm in arm, singing along to every lyric of every song. Then moshing. Then singing again. This poster brings back fond memories. - Jon Hadusek

Show was sweaty and passionate. Everybody arm in arm, singing along to every lyric of every song. Then moshing. Then singing again. This poster brings back fond memories. –Jon Hadusek

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St. Vincent’s Strange Mercy was almost all I listened to in 2011. So, you could imagine my surprise and excitement when I ran home, poster in hand, and saw that Annie Clark herself had signed it. I’ve seen her at a dozen festivals or venues, but she never sounded better than at the Metro that night. –Michael Roffman

carson dawes e1383229091764 768x1024 These Walls Can Talk: Our Favorite Concert Posters and Stories

I don’t collect concert posters and I don’t ask for autographs, but when Dawes played a sold-out, in-store gig at Nashville’s landmark establishment, Grimey’s, I wound up with both. Pre-ordering the album got me one of 150 spots at said in-store, as well as a free screen print poster to get signed. That band makes it so easy for me to hand over my money. I can’t complain because I haven’t tired of admiring Taylor Goldsmith’s songwriting and the way their songs make sense to me. That poster is a happy reminder of a quick brush with one of my favorite bands. (And now they’re releasing the set as a 12” for Black Friday. You know where I’ll be.) –Erin Carson

This show was so damn loud, my takeaway was that I'd outgrown Nine Inch Nails. I was convinced that my enjoyment of the band would end after this show, but I never outgrew them like I thought, and am looking forward to seeing them later this year. It was just really loud and they caught me when I was really into Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - Philip Cosores

This show was so damn loud, my takeaway was that I’d outgrown Nine Inch Nails. I was convinced that my enjoyment of the band would end after this show, but I never outgrew them like I thought I would, and am looking forward to seeing them later this year. It was just really loud and they caught me when I was really into Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!… –Philip Cosores

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As soon as this show came to a close, which I watched from the very last row of the United Center, I rushed to the merch table. Despite the fact that the majority of people in attendance had a better view than me, I had the time of my life singing, dancing, and perhaps shedding a tear or two as I heard most of Rumours played live. The penguin on the wall is a great reminder of a legendary show. –Amanda Koellner

This poster's from Brand New's Deja Entendu release show at Irving Plaza on June 20th, 2003. It was my very first time seeing the band. I had scored tickets off WSOU's 89.5 FM. Brand New and the DJs were hesitant to give me a pair at first (because I hadn't technically won them), but I kept pleading like the whiney teen that I was, telling them that I had just turned 16. Sure enough they finally gave in! The thing is pretty wrinkled, after dropping it during the show and losing it for a good five minutes. Somehow it magically found its way back to me and I haven't parted with it since. It's supposed to be limited edition, but even if it's not, that concert's probably one of my most memorable. - Michelle Geslani

This poster’s from Brand New’s Deja Entendu release show at Irving Plaza on June 20th, 2003. It was my very first time seeing the band. I had scored tickets off WSOU’s 89.5 FM. Brand New and the DJs were hesitant to give me a pair at first (because I hadn’t technically won them), but I kept pleading like the whiney teen that I was, telling them that I had just turned 16. Sure enough, they finally gave in. The thing is pretty wrinkled, after dropping it during the show and losing it for a good five minutes. Somehow it magically found its way back to me and I haven’t parted with it since. It’s supposed to be limited edition, but even if it’s not, that concert’s probably one of my most memorable. –Michelle Geslani

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Swedish/Norwegian jazz heavies The Thing (Mats Gustafsson on reeds, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on bass, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums) dropped by stateside after the release of their excellent 2006 album Action Jazz, including two nights at Chicago’s Hideout. Their performance with local saxophone genius Ken Vandermark on the second night was released on Smalltown Superjazz, but the monster on this poster captures that performance’s power just as well, the three legs united under one brain, the arm holding the briefcase all business, the sword-bearing arm ready to scrap. –Adam Kivel

A few years back, my fiance and I hit up Minneapolis' First Avenue to see The Hold Steady for Fourth of July Weekend. I'll see Craig Finn wherever, but seeing them at a venue that launched my favorite band of all time --uh, The Replacements -- was a match made in heaven. This one hangs in the living room, back and center. - Michael Roffman

A few years back, my fiance and I hit up Minneapolis’ First Avenue to see The Hold Steady over the Fourth of July weekend. I’ll see Craig Finn wherever, but catching them at a venue that launched my favorite band of all time –uh, The Replacements — was a match made in heaven. This one hangs in the living room, back and center. –Michael Roffman

A famous gig, considered by the band to be their career highlight.  The Shins opened and played "Phantom Limb" for the first time and Belle & Sebastian, with a full orchestra backing, turned the sold-out bowl into their trademark dance parties, with people filling up the stage, the catwalk, and the aisles. Magic. - Philip Cosores

A famous gig, considered by the band to be their career highlight. The Shins opened and played “Phantom Limb” for the first time and Belle & Sebastian, with a full orchestra in support, turned the sold-out bowl into their trademark dance parties, with people filling up the stage, the catwalk, and the aisles. Magic. –Philip Cosores

wilco wang These Walls Can Talk: Our Favorite Concert Posters and Stories

Maybe it’s because I’m in the thick of the Red Sox’ third World Series appearance in nine years, but Wilco’s poster from its September 2011 show in Boston makes me nostalgic for home. The subdued colors and the band’s clever take on the legendary Citgo sign that’s long hovered over the Green Monster make for a simple yet creative gig poster, not to mention a tasteful tribute to one of the most storied teams in all of American sports. That said, if they lose this series I never want to see this poster again. [Editor's Note: Ryan is somewhere lying in a bucket of beer right now. Kudos, Boston.] –Ryan Bray

Pavement - While I studied abroad in London my junior year of college, I got to catch the first of Pavement's 4 night run at London's Brixton Academy.  Quoting "Here", the poster alludes to the fact that Pavement's last show before they broke up took place at London's Brixton Academy: "Everything's ending here." The Buckingham Palace Guard greets me every morning, next to my bed, reminding me of that brilliant time in my life, where I got to see one of my favorite bands for the first time, and in a strange land. - Drew Litowitz

While I studied abroad in London my junior year of college, I got to catch the first of Pavement’s four-night run at London’s Brixton Academy. Quoting “Here”, the poster alludes to the fact that Pavement’s last show before they broke up took place at London’s Brixton Academy: “Everything’s ending here.” The Buckingham Palace Guard greets me every morning, next to my bed, reminding me of that brilliant time in my life, where I got to see one of my favorite bands for the first time, and in a strange land. –Drew Litowitz

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This poster came into my possession because I held a raffle ticket with a stamp on the back of it. I had just seen Phoenix in-the-round at a small Chicago bar. They sat on the floor with several keyboards and mics a few inches above their heads and performed several songs in the middle of the afternoon. Each member of the band signed this poster after, and that night I saw them blow the roof off the Aragon. –Amanda Koellner

Foo Fighters at the Metro? I still thank my lucky stars for this one. They actually handed these out for free as everyone walked out. I gave mine to a friend who missed out, so this one actually belongs to my fiance. It would really suck if she got this in the divorce; one of the best shows I've ever attended. - Michael Roffman

When Alex Young sent me news about Pete and Pete’s reunion in Los Angeles. I immediately grabbed my phone, called Cap Blackard, and demanded he book flights out there. We did, we saw it, and Mark Mulcahy’s debut performance as Polaris brought tears to my eyes. Someone custom designed these posters for the event and coupled with the wooden frame, it’s one of my most valuable possesions, emotionally speaking. –Michael Roffman

I never saw Grandaddy until the reunion last year, but Jason Lytle's post-Grandaddy solo tour was pretty great for me, as he still played Grandaddy songs in a movie theater in Long Beach. - Philip Cosores

I never saw Grandaddy until the reunion last year, but Jason Lytle’s post-Grandaddy solo tour was pretty great for me, as he still played Grandaddy songs in a movie theater in Long Beach. –Philip Cosores

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The Swell Season was the collaboration between The Frames’ frontman Glen Hansard and Czech musician Marketa Irglova. Due to the success of Once, the Oscar-winning film they co-starred in, they had gone from playing small clubs to selling out Chicago’s historic Auditorium Theater. I was still in college at the time and went with a girl from one of my classes who was a huge fan as well but had never seen Hansard perform before. As a performer, Hansard has an amazingly powerful voice capable of reaching raw, emotional heights. When he played “Say It To Me Now” unplugged, I couldn’t believe it—the Auditorium Theater holds about 4,000 people and we were at the very last row all the way up top, too! The night ended with a cover of Mic Christopher’s “Heyday”, a close friend of Hansard’s who tragically passed away in 2001. I don’t usually buy concert posters, but I felt compelled to after an unforgettable show like that. –Josh Terry

leerenaldoposter These Walls Can Talk: Our Favorite Concert Posters and Stories

In May of last year, I was finishing up classes at Indiana University when I heard that Lee Ranaldo, fresh off a breakup from his band of the past 30 years, Sonic Youth, was coming through town for an in-store acoustic performance at Landlocked Music. Thrilled as I was for the set, Bloomington had me outright spoiled by that point from seeing so many of my favorite artists pass through town to play criminally under-attended shows. Ranaldo was doing a whole tour of in-stores, but apparently, he booked a date in Bloomington after someone dug up some old prints of a 1995 poem he wrote called “Bloomington, Indiana: Autumn”.

That was a cool surprise, but the real jolt came after I did a bit of Googling and saw that he had actually pressed a 12-inch of a seriously haunting, studio-skewed reading of that poem too. It soon came to my attention that holy shit there was a hardly-distributed Lee Ranaldo album called Bloomington, Indiana: Autumn, and Jim O’Rourke is on it too, and I might have never known this otherwise. It was an impossible combination of my favorite things, and it showed up right on time. The album would be for sale at the show too. –Steven Arroyo

This and the next two are all the same artist doing posters for these one-off special shows at the Hollywood Bowl. All included the LA Philharmonic as backing to the headliner. The Decemberists played "The Tain" and "I Was Meant for the Stage" and Band of Horses debuted "The General Specific." Andrew Bird played offball deep cuts because he was at his weirdest in these years. - Philip Cosores

This was one of a few special one-off shows at the Hollywood Bowl — all of which included the LA Philharmonic as support to the headliner. The Decemberists played “The Train” and “I Was Meant for the Stage” and Band of Horses debuted “The General Specific”. Andrew Bird played off-ball deep cuts because he was at his weirdest in these years. –Philip Cosores

P4K Poster

The first year I attended Pitchfork Music Festival was in 2010. Seeing a newly reunited Pavement and one of LCD Soundsystem’s last shows, plus all the other great artists on the bill, made for one hell of a weekend and an amazing first year at the fest. I’ve been back every year since. –Adam Novak

concert posters - 5

This was actually the first show I covered with photographer Heather Kaplan. I bought this for her because, well, she loved Wilco and I wanted her to remember her first time doing photos for us. Now that we’re engaged, it’s like a starting point of sorts. Plus, “Muzzle of Bees” has since become my go-to song for them. –Michael Roffman

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