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Billboard.com had an article recently with what they claimed were the 25 Best Rock Posters of All Time. I am surprised that the list didn’t seem to garner really that much discussion, particularly on Gigposters.com or Expressobeans.com, but I guess it was for one main reason… the list was just so ridiculous. No disrespect to any of the artists in it at all, as some do truly deserve to be there. But it was clearly compiled by someone who had no idea, particularly about modern gig posters… from a significance or aesthetic perspective.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on this… I have only come into this game in the last 10 years at best (mainly about the last 6 or 7). With that I can only say that my grip of all things modern gig poster is adequate and my knowledge of posters of the 60’s and 70’s is basically non-existent. All that aside though, here is part 1 of my response to the Billboard article. Here are the first 5 contemporary gig posters that really deserve to be on some kind of best of list. Now this is a combination of popularity, artistry, and certainly my own biases. Note that they are all considered modern posters. But they are all cool, no question. So in alphabetical order (by artist):

1. Apollo Sunshine by Leia Bell

How convenient that alphabetical order puts my favourite artist first. I have so many Leia Bell’s that I think I have lost count, but I love every one. This got the gong for two reasons… it is her most iconic, and it is just simply awesome. I (sadly) only have a copy of the second edition, but I have seen a copy of the first and it is so tiny it adds even more to its coolness. Don’t just try and find this one… buy all her stuff!

2. Sonic Youth by Casey Burns

Maybe an odd choice for those not into gig posters, and it is a recent one, but when this came out it just captured that era of Sonic Youth so well. Of course it was the Sonic Nurse LP, but the feel of the poster made it feel like it could have been 80’s era Sonic Youth just as well. Everyone who has one will never sell.

3. Flaming Lips by Wayne Coyne

A relatively old one, but it is just so great. The Lips maestro sadly does not do more gig posters. This is a good indicator of most of Wayne’s Flaming Lips poster work (which are often about crazy day-glo and aliens). I don’t have this… a true holy-grail of gig posters.

4. Nick Cave by Emek

Emek had 3 posters in the original Billboard article. He has become the man to chase these days. Not sure why to be completely honest. Some are amazing, don’t get me wrong. But I have a few that had gone to crazy prices, and even owning them I am not exactly sure why. Regardless, this is a beautiful gig-poster. If any are going to be called “legitimate” art (I use that term reluctantly) then this surely has to be one. I would easily trade any other Emek I have for this.

5. QOTSA by Justin Hampton

Hampton was one of the first artists I collected a lot of. It was actually his 90’s Blur poster that got me into him, but this is his best I reckon. A pretty simple idea really, but just executed to perfection.

So there you have it… the first 5. The second part will obviously have Frank Kozik making an appearance, as well as Jay Ryan. Plus a few personal faves, and one just simply hilarious.

… muttler

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