I am more than ten years and two thousand miles from a moment in which, on the Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga tour, I first saw the band, Spoon. Now, an older and wiser man, I went searching for the gig poster for this show. And then I went on to look for other shows. Could I find them all? Here’s what I did.
“Remember that show?”
Spoon performed as part of Portland, Oregon’s yearly MusicFest NW show on Thursday, September 6, 2007, at the Crystal Ballroom. I remember seeing them, certainly, but was this my show? Could they have played another time? I found this beautiful, 1960’s pop art-inspired poster by Jeff Kleinsmith, but how could I be sure?
Research. All of it on the internet. Many of us by now know that search engines can locate not only gig dates and venues but also setlists. And this one, it turns out, proved correct (probably). A quick search on the opening act, Viva Voce, stirred some memories. But once I lined up the fact that they were touring on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, which I remember buying, and the release date, as well as looking up the lineup on Billboard to be sure it included both Spoon and opener Viva Voce, I nailed it. This was my poster.
I found a copy at Poster Cabaret in Austin, Texas, and ordered it for only $22.50 (on sale from $30). It will arrive shortly.
I began to look for other concerts for other shows. The search can be daunting; I had to use search engines, especially Google Images, using such keywords as the band name, the city, venue, and date, as best I could. It’s imperfect, but sometimes I get lucky. For example, I found the poster for the Interpol show I saw at the Crystal Ballroom while the band was touring on their second album, Antics, when I had just moved to Portland, 2004.
The poster is by the great artist, Mike King (more on him in another post). The image calls to mind one technique of gig poster art, which is to reference song lyrics; here, the poster refers to the song “PDA” from their first album, Turn On The Bright Lights, a driving tune whose chorus sings, “We have two hundred couches where you can sleep tonight…” The poster itself: sold out, from what I can tell, and certainly long ago.
The really famous concert
Another poster I found is another Crystal Ballroom show, The Black Keys from April 2008. This one was created by Guy Burwell, who I discussed in an earlier post with his amazing My Morning Jacket posters. This show was a few years after their breakthrough album, Rubber Factory when they were touring on Attack & Release. The show itself was made into a movie, and that may be part of why it is, basically, unavailable…at least in its original form.
This poster is perfectly in Burwell’s style at the time, with a Picasso-esque portrait of members Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney. It’s just weird enough to be vaguely unsettling, if not frightening. I found one single copy, an artist proof (and so not one of the numbered edition) at JoJo’s Posters—for $175.
Why so much? Probably because the original series is gone—as are the artist proofs. And one thing Guy Burwell has—and this is the same with Mike King—is a reputation. People know his work, especially in Portland, Oregon. In fact, I met him once in the Crystal Ballroom selling his MMJ prints the night of the band’s show.
One buys such prints, when they are new, for a reasonable price many times. $25-$30 is not unheard of. But with some artists, like Burwell, that number is growing. And over time, it is evident that some can increase in value dramatically. If you are thinking of collecting, then consider both Gen X and the Millennials: what will they want to remember in 20 years? A show? You bet. And the poster stands not only for the show, but a work of art that represents its time incredibly well.
GoCollect will soon be launching a concert poster price guide!