The Dutchess and the Duke ::: Photo by Abbey
I’ve got a strange obsession with hair and rock n’ roll or maybe just more generally hair and popular music. I’m currently testing the theory that by growing longer hair I may in fact also be increasing my aptitude for rocking. Looking through history one finds the association of long hair and rocking hard is strong, though I’ve yet to come to a firm conclusion based on my own short experience.
Up here in the Northwest it seems we may have also taken that theory a whole ‘nother step by deciding to now bundle our mana in our beards, or at the very least our facial hair. (It’s just that much closer to our hearts I guess.) Among the latest crop of musicians who are easily identifiable with the new popular Seattle sound are beard supporters aplenty. Band of Horses and Grand Archives practically started this whole beard rock thing. Common Market. The Maldives. The Moondoggies. Fleet Foxes. The Dutchess and the Duke. The Cave Singers. Aqueduct. Throw Me the Statue. David Bazan. The list goes on. And the baby-facers? We’ll the ladies I suppose, but even the Sera Cahoone band has it’s own beardo and fair share of legit mustaches.
To drive my point home I thought I’d evaluate a few short match-ups of artists appearing at Sasquatch in this column to determine: Is Seattle the beardiest of them all? In my quest to weigh each band equally I’ll be asking myself primarily this question: which band most embodies the spirit of beardedness? Diversity, quantity (how many members), size and overall aesthetic are all factors that go into determining a winner.
To set the stage a little bit more, let’s delve a little deeper into just how serious we take our beards up here in the northwest. Before Sasquatch was to even happen, two local party loving hip hop groups Mad Rad and Champagne Champagne, who each sport a notably bearded member agreed to a one on one basketball challenge where the loser would have to lose the beard before their Sasquatch appearance. I checked in with Mad Rad’s Terry Radjaw today to learn the results, and they’ve decided to make more of an event out of it, moving the showdown to later in the summer, to happen at the Funhouse on July 24. To get warmed up, let’s start with their virtual beard-off…
Real Life Local Beard Off
Champagne Champagne (SEA) | myspace |
Noon Saturday May 23 at the Yeti Stage
Mad Rad (SEA) | myspace |
Noon Sunday May 24 at the Yeti Stage
Winner: Champagne Champagne.
While we won’t venture a guess as to the eventual winner of the basketball challenge, we’ve got to say as far as beardedness goes, Thomas of Champagne Champagne is the clear winner. Thickness, face coverage and the fact that his beard’s style is unified with his hair style make him a model member of the beard brigade. Terry Radjaw gets props for overall commitment, but let’s be real here: a beard without a properly developed upper lip is hardly a beard at all.
For the other festival match-ups I’ve tried to match similarly constructed bands into various logical categories:
Main Stage Veterans
Murder City Devils (SEA) | myspace |
5:20pm on Sunday May 24 at the Main Stage
TV On the Radio (NY) | myspace |
6:35pm on Sunday May 24 at the Main Stage
Winner: Murder City Devils.
These two heavyweights play the mainstage one right after another, so you’ll easily be able to judge for yourself who the winner is of this one. We will always give props where they are due: Kipp Malone’s beard is impressive. Very impressive. But the Murder City Devils aren’t exactly slouches either. You’ve got a Spencer Moody’s “backwoods crazy” beard counterpointed by bassist (and Cave Singer) Derek Fudesco’s typical well groomed Seattle style. It’s a one-two high-low punch combo that’s stood the test of time. What really put this band over the top though is their roadie Gabe. Have you seen his beard lately? He could practically win this competition single-handed. (Or maybe single-bearded?)
Fleet Foxes ::: Photo by Josh
Expansive Melodies and Harmonies
Fleet Foxes (SEA) | myspace |
4:45pm Monday May 25 at the Main Stage
Other Lives (TN) | myspace |
12:35pm Monday May 25 at the Wookie Stage
Winner: Fleet Foxes.
Other Lives singer Jesse Tabish leads an impressive enough band that they’ve been asked to open for the Decemberists for a few Oregon stops in the coming days, and his beard is no minor effort let me tell you. Yet Seattle’s Fleet Foxes sport two of Seattle’s most notable and bushy beards in Robin Pecknold and drummer Josh Tillman, while the whole band at times supports a total of four beards on stage at once. Even if Fleet Foxes wasn’t the biggest band in the world right now, in this competition what band could compete with that?
Northwest Head To Head
The Dutchess and the Duke (SEA) | myspace |
4:20pm Monday May 25 at the Yeti Stage
Horse Feathers (PDX) | myspace |
2:10pm Monday May 25 at the Yeti Stage
Winner: The Dutchess and the Duke.
I thought this match-up was a very good one and a hard one to tease out a winner. Neither band uses a drum, both are pretty acoustic, and both have a primary female member. Both also have front-men with beards. We had to include another beard from the Northwest to properly be able to judge if Seattle was really the place, or if it was just Northwest thing in general. You might call Horse Feathers’ Justin Ringle the model Portlandian Beardo: sensitive, acoustic, and thoughtful. D&D are those things too. What puts the The Dutchess and the Duke on top in this is the overall sense of unreserved fun. A happy beard always wins over a frowny beard in my book.
After laying it out like this, it seems pretty clear that Seattle is the beardedest of them all. Though I suppose luckily for our locals God wasn’t a player in any of these head-to-heads. If Matisyahu had been attending Sasquatch, things might look much different…