Let the music play on
TOP UNMASKED MUSICIANS IN THE INDUSTRY
Part of being a successful musician means giving a good face. Whether it is a winning smile, a signature snarl, a distinctive makeup choice or an eye-covering hairdo, an artist’s face allows them to communicate who they are and how they want to come across to their audience. A recognizable face also allows fans to identify musicians off the stage and follow their lives outside of their art. But what if you remove this aspect from a show? What happens when you strip away the lipstick and winks and scowls and smiles and draw focus to the music and other aspects of a live performance? Here are seven artists known for doing just that;
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1. MAGIC SWORD
The Boise, Idaho-based electronic group made their debut in the music industry in 2013. The third band member hangs out behind the scenes creating gloomy projections while the other two perform while donning hooded cloaks and fencing masks with glowing laser lines for eyes. By utilizing the electronic soundtracks and soundscapes we recall from silly 1980s movies, Magic Sword creates authentic throwback music. The Keeper, one of the band members, revealed to Westword that he had the inspiration while attending a meditation vacation. "On day seven, it finally hit me: I wanted to do this. "80s epic soundtrack music was the one thing that remained constant in my life," he said.
Magic Sword has been successful in accomplishing this, creating music that can be used in any action scene, montage, or romantic moment. The band's debut album, which included an original comic book, was published in 2015. Since then, Magic Sword has been able to appear in a wide range of contexts, from the Hotline Miami 2 music to the Treefort Music Festival.
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One of the less enigmatic masked artists on our list is Canadian DJ and producer Joel Thomas Zimmerman, who frequently shows up in photos and interviews as his regular self. However, Deadmau5—a round-headed mouse with protruding (often glowing) eyes and a wide smile—is still his stage character, for which he is best known. You're not alone if the thought of a smiling mouse costume makes you think of Disney; Zimmerman faced legal action from the business in 2014 and responded with a lawsuit the following year. The Deadmau5 head continues to exist and is associated with EDM events and videos of enormous dancing crowds in party hotspots like Ibiza. Eventually, everything gently died down. Numerous Juno awards, Grammy nominations, and even a place on Forbes' 2016 list of the highest paid DJs in the industry have all been received by Zimmerman as a result of his music. Prepare to see that bobbing head on the circuit once more this summer as Zimmerman and his mask embark on a tour that includes several music events.
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3. DAFT BUNK
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, two of the most notorious modern masked men, act on stage while concealed by robot heads and gloves. In the 1990s, Daft Punk found incredible success by making French dance music accessible to the general public. Although the two artists' names are well-known, they hardly ever give interviews and never perform without their helmets, which gives their technologically advanced music a sci-fi feel. Homem-Christo and Bangalter won a Grammy for their album Alive in 2007, and they won four for their album Random Access Memories in 2014. They may be best known to the general public for providing the audio for Tron: Legacy and producing music that was significantly better than the film. For two guys you wouldn't know, it wasn't too bad.
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Gorillaz do not use faces or disguises on stage, in contrast to many of the acts on this list. Instead, the group uses four digitally animated characters to perform a blend of pop, electronic, rap, and reggae music. Damon Albarn, the main singer of Blur, and Jamie Hewlett, the artist behind Tank Girl, came up with the concept for Gorillaz as a way for Albarn to avoid fame and recognition. Albarn once said, "The nature of celebrity and the cynicism of popular culture was one of the things that really got to us." The band, which is made up of diverse musical collaborations, made its live performance debut in 2001 while the four members remained hidden behind a screen. Everyone has conjectured about the sounds behind the faces, and fake backstories have been made up for the animated members. With songs like "Clint Eastwood" and albums like Demon Days, the band broke new ground and achieved success. They also worked with a number of well-known musicians, including Danger Mouse, Snoop Dogg, and Massive Attack. Keep an eye out for the group, as they have lately hinted at a comeback.
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Gwar is the most theatrical of the masked artists on this list due to their insane live performances and outrageous costumes. Each member of this heavy metal band, The Slave Pit, wears a warrior-inspired costume with full theater-level intricate monster masks, swords, loincloths, and armor, and they perform as a rotating roster of musicians. Think of Bebop and Rocksteady from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as battle-ready characters with enormous penises that squirt liquid into a giddy audience. The group's performance, which includes fake blood and extremely violent scenes, is frequently referred to as "shock rock." Unsurprisingly, the band's members have faced a great deal of controversy, including accusations of stealing lead vocalist Dave Brockie's cremated remains after his overdose death in 2014 and backlash over sexually explicit lyrics. Gwar, however, also enjoys a devoted fan base and has achieved both creative and commercial success; for his 1992 album Phallus in Wonderland, he received a Grammy nomination. Gwar has also released a series of trading cards and even a board game. The GWAR-B-Q 2016 in Richmond, Virginia, is the band's upcoming major event, so if you enjoy your hamburgers with a side of decapitation, this is the spot for you.
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This Australian vocalist and songwriter, the only masked woman on our list, shot to prominence in recent years thanks to her brilliant lyrics, sound, videos, and distinctive voice. Sia Furler is renowned for concealing her identity and performing or making television appearances while keeping her visage hidden. A big blonde wig with a bow on top is frequently used by the performer as a mask. The length of the bangs is adjusted depending on whether she needs to talk or sing. Even in her music videos, Sia has been known to conceal behind props when performing live, drawing attention to other dancers, most frequently the young Maddie Ziegler. Sia did not, however, always act in disguise. The singer explained why she started donning wigs "10 or 11 years" into her career during an appearance on The Late Late Show, stating, "I thought, 'What doesn't exist in pop music at the moment?'" It was a riddle, too! I said, "There are Instagram photos of everyone at the doctor. Masked or not, Sia has created some amazing music, becoming well-known for hits like "Chandelier" and penning popular songs for other artists. She recently performed at Coachella 2016 and is presently on tour.
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Tall, mysterious and silent, Buckethead is known for performing on stage while wearing a white mask and a hat made from a fast food chicken bucket that has been adorned with an orange funeral procession bumper sticker. As guitarist Brian Carroll’s alter ego, Buckethead has a long and creepy backstory that claims he had his face scratched off by chickens and that he once operated a theme park made from scrap metal and at some point worked in a deli. All we know for sure is that Buckethead is one hell of a guitar player and a looming presence on stage who is prone to tending to dolls, breaking into a robot dance and moving around in a disorienting shuffling manner. Between 2002 and 2004, Buckethead performed with Guns N' Roses and has collaborated on projects with artists like Iggy Pop, Les Claypool, and Serj Tankian. He is known for his insane shredding and long, quick fingers. You can now see the musician perform live as he recently revealed his first tour dates since 2012.