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Forget the Billboard charts or VH1's Greatest Hits of Whatever Decade. The true litmus test of a musical artist's distinction and endurance is on the vintage concert t-shirt racks at overpriced used t-shirt emporium Scout Vintage T-shirts on Mulberry Street. It's a strange land where both reincarnated-as-a-hipster-go-to band Hall & Oates and New York punk legends the Ramones share the same real estate space, as well as the same exorbitant price tag of $168. And it's ripe for pop-culture analysis.
Under the guise of research, we had the best old time musing down memory lane looking at every single shirt. Prices range from a bargain-basement $58 for Tommy Page (90's one-hit-wonder of "I'll Be Your Everything" fame...you know that you know that song) to $188 for bands like Motley Crüe (we must admit that the red "Shout at the Devil" 1983 tour tee was pretty awesome) and, well, Genesis.
Sensing a theme, we found that even though the golden days of hair metal are over, the genre is still hot stuff at Scout, commanding $128 for a baggy, faded Slaughter "Stick it to Ya!" tee and $148 for a gloriously high-haired White Lion tee. At first we were surprised that Van Halen was priced at a somewhat insulting $128, but then we realized that it was from the Van Hagar era. David Lee Roth would have bumped that back up to $168 at least.
Adult contemporary and easy listening are in high demand, too, with Barry Manilow, disco hip-swiveling Andy Gibb, and everyone's guilty pleasure Bryan Adams sharing the same $148 price tag as Billy Joel. Sorry, Billy. We also saw some odd bedfellows within the same price points. For instance, a skillfully made up Boy George during his Culture Club days cost $168, as did Styx of "Mr. Roboto" fame and the legendary Led Zeppelin (plus a solo Robert Plant.) Also, apparently Air Supply (the long pastel blue sleeved tee was really cute) and Eric Clapton have the same retail power—their price tags were both $158.
Two questions prompted by our research: How can these people sleep at night charging such insane prices on t-shirts that were probably worn twenty years ago by some mullet-coiffed sweaty guy from the Midwest? And how do they decide that Genesis has a higher cachet than Elvis? A staffer told us that the tees are sourced and priced in Atlanta (which maybe explains the preponderance of $88 Randy Travis?). The pricing is mainly based on which artists are the most popular, if the tee is a limited edition from a specific concert, and also, of course, the condition. (Though we did notice a couple holes in the sleeve of a $168 The Cars tee.)
If you're like us, maybe you recall attending, oh, say, a Slaughter concert back in the 90's. Had you known then that you could have made a 600% profit twenty years later, wouldn't you have bought out the entire merch stand?
· Scout Vintage T-Shirts [Official Site]