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You either Die a Scene Legend or Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become the Merch Guy

When determining the most admired person at a local show, it could easily come down to a toss-up between the front man and the bartender. The least respected might be more easily identified as the Merch Guy. The man who sits behind a wonky table, hoping someone might convince themselves that they need a Fever Krust t-shirt and throw him a crumpled note to put in his little red tin.

How do you go from being the life and soul of the scene to the dead-behind-the-eyes pile of beard hawking crap at the back of the room? Joe ‘Pockets’ McGill knows all too well…

The Hard Times: Hey man! We almost didn’t see you there. How’s business?
Merch Guy: Some guy who wanted to buy a wristband just asked me if I take card so I had to spit on his shoe. I’d call it a busy night.

Tell us, how does a guy like you land this job anyway?
I used to be a name around here, people knew me. Pockets they’d call me, because during every show people would throw so much beer on me that I’d drink it from my pockets at the end of the night.

That’s… awesome.
Our shows were always packed. We really thought we were gonna make it big, y’know? Then, all of a sudden, the younger, tamer bands started drawing bigger crowds. Before I knew it, I was only getting on stage if they needed a hand setting up their 13 guitar pedals.

Did you enjoy being a roadie?

I definitely liked swapping out the drummers’ ride cymbal for an extra crash, just to see them squirm when they’d accidentally make some actual noise. But once I hit 60, all that heavy lifting had really done a number on my back. It was fucked up man but all I really wanted was a spot to sit down.

And you decided to step down to a Merch Guy position?

Nobody “chooses” this shit it just happens. I found a chair in the back and sat for one of the shows. Suddenly the band had a table set up in front of me and expected me to guard a tin of cash during their set. I took that responsibility seriously and sealed my fate as the merch guy.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring merch guy out there?

If there is anyone reading this who actually wants to do this job, I would urge you to re- evaluate your life choices. I could be living it up with a wife and pension at this stage of my life but instead I sit here and try to sell enough t-shirts so that I can get a pack of PBR and some Advil at the end of the night. I don’t even enjoy the shows anymore, not since lead singers stopped spittin’.

Well, thanks for talking with us, it has been a pleasure.
Hey, aren’t you gonna buy something? I just spilled my guts to you!

Sorry, Fever Krust just finished their set and I would really like to interview someone that people might actually want to read about.

Okay I guess I wouldn’t mind shilling out for a t-shirt.

That’s more like it.

Do you take cards?

You can find Joe ‘Pockets’ McGill at a little table at the back of most shows in Electric Avenue on 5 th Street. If you pay him a visit, we recommend bringing cash.