Monday, March 18, 2013

Book puts modern twist on vintage concert posters

Last week I stumbled on an enormous coffee table book in my editor's desk. My first thought was, "How'd this fit in here and who would want a book this big? It's too tall for the shelf."

Then I read the title: "Swissted: Vintage Rock Posters Remixed and Reimagined."

"Oh," I immediately backpedaled. "Can I have this?" 

When I moved to Charlotte in 1994 I began collecting concert posters. The Frank Kozik and Uncle Charlie prints I bought and had framed at Infinity's Images still hang in our home today along with countless others we've picked up at shows over the years. So a book of concert posters is right up my alley. 

What's different about the posters in Mike Joyce's book are that while the shows actually happened, these posters did not - until recently, that is, when the owner of NYC's Stereotype Design began combining his love of `70s, `80s and `90s punk, new wave and hardcore with his fascination with Swiss modernism. Bands who once advertised shows on crude, busy, black and white flyers now have sleek, colorful versions like the ones that appear on the cover of the book (pictured above).

Joyce, who has designed album covers for musicians like Iggy Pop and the Lemonheads, explains his fascination with the International Typographic Movement and how it relates to punk and indie rock in the book. The convergence of the seemingly disparate underground bands and modern art style makes sense once he explains how bands like the Ramones, for instance, were drawing on disparate movements to make their own art. 

While I was delighted to find posters for obscure bands like the Accused (my high school boyfriend's favorite) and riot grrrls aplenty (Babes in Toyland, L7, Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill), the best part of this discovery was when my 4-year-old discovered it. 

He and his babysitter uncovered the real gem - a poster of a Material Issue show. Material Issue was a power pop band from Chicago that I listened to in high school. When I introduced my eldest to the song "Diane" because it was his teacher's name, he was hooked. Both my 2 and 4-year-olds know the words to several Material Issue songs. Sadly the group's singer committed suicide in the `90s, so my son's quest to see them live is never going to happen (although the surviving members have done shows as Material Re-Issue). 

He's pretty happy to settle with a flyer for a long ago show framed on his bedroom wall - for now. See, the pages of the book are actually perforated so you can tear them out and display. After flipping through the book twice we're already planning our trip to Ikea to buy frames so he can put posters from some of his favorite bands on his bedroom walls (I know, starting early). 

While we didn't come across his very favorite (Blur), he has claimed seven including one that bears the name he shares with a famous band from the `80s which I imagine will become the centerpiece of the new "Swissted" display over his bed. As much as I am a little sad about him taking down some of the artwork I purchased for his room when he was born, it's pretty cool that it's the Beastie Boys, Rancid, No Doubt, and Sleater-Kinney (so proud) that will replace it. As far as children's decor goes, it could be much worse (Barney?). 

The only downside? Seeing a Dead Kennedys poster prompted him to ask me if the band members were all dead. 

"Swissted" is available online. Although it lists for $40, Amazon is selling it for $22.72 here