Juliet creates commemorative T-shirts for cancelled concerts

The band Mountain Head was scheduled to perform in Toronto on June 5, 2020. But that performance—as well as others planned for the rest of the year—never happened. It was just one of an estimated 10,000-plus shows cancelled in Toronto alone during the pandemic.

Mountain Head’s Kyle and Ben Hannah say they had between 60-80 shows cancelled because of the pandemic, with lost revenue in the thousands of dollars (those losses were partly offset by getting a song into the top 30 last year).

From the notorious Fyre Festival, to The Beatles (well, John and Paul anyway) reportedly toying with accepting Lorne Michaels’ invitation to reunite on Saturday Night Live for $3,000 in 1976, only to decide they couldn’t be arsed, music lore is filled with potentially legendary concerts that never happened.

But a new fundraising program created by Toronto agency Juliet called “For the Love of Live,” is letting fans of Toronto-area bands purchase a commemorative T-shirt for a show that never happened. The shirts are selling for $75, with all proceeds going to the bands.

The front of the shirt features a graphic representation of the band and its name created by an illustrator who was specifically matched with the band. The back of the shirt features a message that reads “This is a concert T-shirt for a concert that never was,” directing people to ForTheLoveOfLive.org to purchase the shirts. Each shirt is available in a limited run of 25.

Juliet co-founder and chief creative officer Ryan Spellicsy first put out a call for bands that had been hurt by the pandemic. It led to about 100 submissions, with the bands selected on a first-come-first-served basis.

Mountain Head were tipped off to the program by a friend in the PR industry. “[It] seemed like a cool way to collaborate with other creatives, for something that would make a difference not just to us but other artists,” they said via email. “[I]t’s cool to be involved with initiatives to help artists, but mainly we enjoy expanding our creative collaboration pallet and expand our network for future collaboration and artistic endeavours.”

Juliet has made a point of giving back to the community since launching. In the early days of the pandemic, it pre-paid for drinks and food at dining establishments near its east-end Toronto office, and last year introduced a program called “Home Page for Change” that turned over the top spot on its web site to a different BIPOC artist for one month, accompanied by a $2,000 grant to the artist.

Creative director Noel Haan called “For the Love of Live” one of the best programs he’s been involved with in his career, and said he’s been impressed by the resilience of bands during an extraordinarily difficult two years.

“They don’t give up,” he said. “It’s not like they go to work at a grocery store and forget about everything. They might go to some [regular] job to get through, but they don’t [let go] of the dream.”

Mountain Head, meanwhile, will be back on the road in both Canada and the U.S. later this year, with a run of dates booked in Ontario, and an L.A. with dates confirmed for mid-summer. And yes, shirts will be available.

Chris Powell