Swag 2: Rock Posters of the '90s and Beyond

Gift guide

Rock & Roll Books

Swag 2: Rock Posters of the '90s and Beyond

by Spencer Drate & Judith Salavetz

Harry N. Abrams, 160 pp., $29.95 (paper)

At 160 pages, Swag 2: Rock Posters of the '90s and Beyond flips through like an exhibition catalog rather than a serious overview of the rock poster's second most prolific decade. Stacked atop 2003's first volume, also 160 pages, the total page count still doesn't match last year's mammoth Art of Modern Rock: The Poster Explosion, 492 glossy, coffeetable-crushing pages that follow up Paul Grushkin's biblical first Art of Rock volume from 1987. Swag 2's foreword acknowledges the bigger issue: "In the past, the only way you could see a poster was in person or in a magazine or book such as this one. .... The Internet has changed all that." See GigPosters.com. Not helping the printed cause, this sequel's unifying aesthetic – if there is one – feels haphazard at best, while biographical information on individual artists and organizations reads like it was supplied by the parties involved and thus varies widely in usefulness. Not that artists don't jump out and that Austin isn't represented: wily vets Danny Garrett, Guy Juke, and Bill Narum vs. new guard Jared Connor, Billy Perkins, and Jamie Ward. The organically tweaked folk-art style of S.F.'s Joel Elrod; Santa Cruz's Jim Phillips and his high gloss, 20th century sideshow styles, complemented by Berkeley's Justin Walsh and his Pythonesque upending of Victorian formality; Tara McPherson's Teletubby cuddly; this paper's Jason Stout and his updated Fillmores, softened. Perkins' owlish souvenir to starman Bowie's 2003 Backyard blowout, one of the best posters this town has produced. Now that's swag.

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