Who Says Masks Aren’t Rock and Roll?
All we seem to be hearing right now is talk about mask wearing and vaccine passports. We couldn’t comment on the vaccine thing because we’re not doctors or Karens who claim they know everything, but we do know a bit about pre-pandemic awesome mask-wearers. These icons make wearing a mask to a gig positively fearsome (in a good way) and we wished we looked this good in our masks during the weekly food shop.
Kerrang writes that “the willingness to pull on a solid mask is to completely sacrifice the human being within for your time onstage, in service of the symbol you become.” Wearing a mask in heavy music is not for the faint hearted of course. Just imagine the sweat and the restricted view of your instrument for starters. Mad make up is a time-honoured tradition in rock and metal as Kiss will attest, but there is something otherworldly about musicians wearing a solid mask onstage. The mystery alone injects some wild into the atmosphere.
1. The Residents
Their chill, psychedelic music is like no other and their iconic eyeball masks and plague doctor masks make it all the more mysterious. These guys were making masks cool since the 70’s and there’s still no stopping them now.
These Star Trek looking masks combined with the fantastic costumes fall somewhere between some dodgy monster porn and a fatal disease, but the effect is truly awesome. We reckon that these guys weren’t among the people moaning about wearing a little cloth mask back when they were compulsory in public places. However uncomfortable our masks are, we can’t even imagine how they suffered for our enjoyment.
These masks look a little less like monsters than those of other bands, and more like the future of humanity post nuclear war. The protruding teeth and gas mask style of some of them give a little apocalyptic feel to the music. We’re loving their vibe. After all, we all know someone who’s been wearing an actual gas mask when they leave the house since the start of the pandemic, are we right? No? Just the people we know then.
In their video for Glumurphonel you can see some serious macabre masks. Hats off to the lead guitarist who surely can’t see a damned thing in his headgear but is playing perfectly. These guys are clearly committed to the ambience of otherness they’re creating.
Whether you love them or hate them, their masks are iconic. People who have never listened to one of their songs can still tell you that the spiked mask is linked to the band Slipknot somehow. That is the level of their star status. With the band’s original intention to keep their identity a secret, the masks were a must, and it fits firmly in the realm of logical that their first ever show was on Halloween. Since then, there is much more that fans now know about the band, but Kerrang! has it right when they say, “Slipknot without their masks simply wouldn’t be Slipknot.”
We’re not so sure that wearing masks in concerts and gigs is so mad. What’s the difference between the fans wearing them and the musicians wearing them mere feet away? It’s not compulsory right now but there’s no reason you can’t still wear a badass mask and get creative with it.
We understand that wearing masks is a personal choice now, and we’re not debating whether it’s right or wrong to continue wearing one. We’re just saying that people who have elected to wear masks have given music fans a lot of joy and entertainment over the decades. If wearing masks is a choice, then let’s get creative with it. That’s what Metalheads do best, right? We don’t conform, but we perform.
Do you have an awesome mask? We don’t mean like a super comfy one. We mean a weird one or spooky one? Let us know on social media. We’d love to see the pictures!