Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I'm generally all for anyone taking their inspiration from Who lyrics. But why must the entire indie rock aesthetic be based on a pair of lines from "I'm One" on Quadrophenia?
Ill fit clothes
I blend in the crowd
The just-slept-in look is not only a cliché, but it is an utter lack of style. The only thing more tired than the trend of trucker hats is media references to the trend of trucker hats. One band looks exactly like another looks exactly like the audience, like they grabbed the clothes off the floor that smelled the least. Even the once-stylish Robert Plant fell prey to the anti-look on his last tour. The current perception of the punk look may have been distilled to the Sid Vicious/Johnny Thunders spiked hair/black leather jacket motif, but at least it was deliberate. And besides, the Ramones all had long hair, except C.J. who immediately grew out his military cut.

This was particularly obvious at Halloween. I attended a party where four people went as the different members of Kiss. With few other bands could outsiders figure out not only what group but what specific members each costume was. Just try dressing up at Pavement or Bright Eyes or Modest Mouse for Halloween. Even the most hardcore indie snob would have a hard time guessing you were in a costume, let alone which distinct band you were supposed to be.

Fortunately some new bands are making an effort to forge a unique image. The Hives and the White Stripes have color schemes. The Mooney Suzuki all don black but pay attention to details, such as the drummer's neckerchief. Interpol always look like they've gotten their hair cut within the last month, while most indie rockers barely look like they've gotten their hair washed within in the last  month. And older acts that are still strong musically are also still strong on the style front: the Fall's Mark E. Smith took the stage at the tiny Empty Bottle in a freshly-pressed shirt and well-cut trousers. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds all sported their unique take on haberdashery. And there's always the Echo & the Bunnymen option: keep the lights dim and swath the stage in so much fog that no one can quite tell what you're wearing anyway.

No comments: