July 30, 2008

Tip Our Hats: The Merch Dude

The Merch Dude is the unsung hero of the music world. He is the warm, smiling face stationed behind your favorite band's merch booth. He can toss a balled up t-shirt across the room like Zeus tossing a lightning bolt from the sky. He is usually bored out of his mind and texts his friends back home non-stop, but if he's in the mood to be social, flashing a smile at him can usually get you either a free pin or a sticker. If you sign the band's mailing list and crack a few jokes, you can maybe even swing both!

He isn't in the band, but since he has to make small talk with the fans all night, he knows where the best after-parties are. On average, he scores about 40% of the tail the guys in the band get, which isn't bad because all he has to do is load the truck, compute basic math when making change, and keep track of how many youth large t-shirts are left.

He's also really good at pointing at the cardboard sign listing all the prices when you have a question about how much something costs. Seriously, he's an A+ pointer.

The Merch Dude is the guy who drives the van across three states while everyone else sleeps. He can be the voice of reason or the source of insanity when it comes to partying. He is the only guy you could share a 3' x 6' space with for a month and not hate him at the end of it. He's an all-around solid guy, and he always gets props in the liner notes.

He is also severely malnourished, as he's subsisted on gas station snacks and veggie delite subs from Subway for the past three weeks. If the band stays over at your place, he is usually the one to sleep in the van and watch the equipment. He seems to run on adrenaline, coffee, and good vibes.

If you guys hit it off, he will also be a superb pen pal and might even send you postcards from the road. I've made a few lifelong friends just from shooting the shit with the Merch Dude and keeping in touch randomly over the years. In fact, I became friends with a Merch Dude at a punk show in high school and we hung out a few summers ago when he breezed through town!

And for that, we tip our hat to you, Merch Dude. Your positive attitude and happy-go-lucky demeanor is a ray of sunshine in the dingy, smoky club your friends' band is playing in.


Michael said...

As a professional merch guy in the music industry I was very proud to read this little write up. This had to have been written by someone who has done this before or at least gone on tour. Seriously . . . nail on the head.

Anna said...

Thanks, Michael! Your comment totally made me smile.

I used to go to shows all the time when I was younger and I've hosted my fair share of bands at my house and I can say without a doubt that Merch Dudes are top notch. I'm glad that you think I did them justice with my post!

Smile smile,

Greg Neate said...

yeah no doubt. as a former diy promoter .. those behind the scene guys get kind of the raw end of the deal... but then i guess if there were no bands there would be no merch dude.

Greg Neate said...

gotta love the merch guy esp. travis conner.

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