For ages, people have utilized flyers and posters to spread the word about events, bounties, and all types of opportunities, and for punks, hardcore kids, and metalheads what better way to be informed of an upcoming show. Maybe a touring band is rolling through town or perhaps your favorite local band is playing a secret show, whatever it may be flyers have consistently been a source of not only information, but also an outlet for artists within the scene to flex their creative muscles. They also made for killer decoration in your bedroom.
Often they are amalgamations of various symbols, photos, drawings, designs, all mashed into one impressive collage. Peace symbols, chains, skulls, scenes of violence, flowers, skeletons, grim reapers, gas masks, slogans, dates, times, band names, you name it and it can probably be found on a show flyer. Some are intricate and detailed, many are minimalistic, but one thing is for certain- no two flyers are alike even when made by the same artist. There is a profound freedom and honor when an artist is in charge of crafting a show flyer. The artist might consider: what do they want it to say, what emotions will it elicit from the target audience, will it help to sell the show?
Artists such as New York City local, Alexander Heir, have been known to create a show flyer or two, like the incredible work he did for New York’s Alright Fest in 2015, which depicts a punk rabidly tearing apart a rat corpse while his friend watches on, and a rather menacing zombie-like police officer hovers behind the two boys. It’s a terrifyingly realistic scene, complete with the title of the event, all the bands performing in alphabetic order and the dates of the fest. It’s work like this that make punk show flyers so impressive and to some, collector’s items.
There’s also the ever elusive slogan that is branded on show flyers. Slogans can add mystery or make a bold statement or create an allure to the already exciting prospect of going to a show. If you ask a punk, they may argue that some slogans or sayings are meant to “ward off any hagglers from messing with an otherwise good time” or preserve the culture by upholding the tradition of keeping shows off-the-radar. Take the Sex Pistols’ 1976 Anarchy tour poster and magazine for example which was designed by Jamie Reid, who at the time was head of political magazine, Suburban Press. It features images of London punk icon, Soo Catwoman and slogans from Reid’s political magazine. Sure, it’s a poster telling you about the show, but really, it’s much more.
Punk show flyers have a large collector base. You can check out sites like Punk Flyer, Angry, Young and Poor, and of course eBay. Better yet, grab your computer and create your own. All you need is a computer, a love of punk shows, and a sense of secrecy.