I went to the Band of Horses show last night and was pleased to find their live sound as clear, bright and lyrical as their recorded album, if not more. What I found surprising, however, was that the band members themselves were nothing like I expected. Instead of trendy, hipster girly-boys--as their music might suggest--all six band members had beards. Long, scraggly, bushy things. Woodstock beards. Hippy. Earthy. But certainly not hipster (unless of course, beard is the new hipster trend, which isn't totally off base, I suppose, because of the irony of it all. Don't ask me).
It's not that scraggly beards are really that relevant to the music. But last night, was it me, or did Band of Horses sound more country than before?
This is funny to me: it's like discovering that Picasso was a womanizer or that Hemingway was chronically depressed and had a drinking habit or that J.K. Rowling is a woman or that Ellen Degeneres is a lesbian. Do we really want to know the truth behind the art form? Because once you cross that line, once you make that discovery about who the artist is, you superimpose new assumptions and prejudices to the art itself. Everything changes. You start judging the artwork by your value judgments of the person. Does that destroy the integrity of the art?
Then again, don't the beards inform the person who's informing the music? Aren't Picasso's views on women and Hemingway's views on liquor inextricably linked to the artwork? Otherwise, it's like saying artists have the canny ability to separate their personal experiences and personal character from what they do. And that's just oxymoronic.
However, now I'm confused and it's Friday night and I want to go have some wine.