Mask mandates are starting to die, but the controversy around mask wearing is still very much alive. As public performers, musicians can get caught in the middle. The country will eventually settle into a new normal, but the transition to a non-pandemic world might be a little bumpy. As a public service, we’ve compiled a list of suggestions to get you through the maskless landscape of the next few weeks, months or years, by including examples of trailblazing performers who successfully managed to integrate masks into their art well before COVID came along.
If you're not ready to give up on mask-wearing, here are our top 10 inspirational strategies for keeping your mask and your art alive simultaneously.
1. Start a Daft Punk cover band and stay in character 24/7. Not as hard as it sounds. Just get a friend, two motorcycle helmets, and download their music to your iPhone.
2. Metalheads could get a day job as a welder and incorporate that into their act. Those welding masks are really dark, though, so ask the sound guy to use lots of strobes.
3. If you have ever been Furry-curious, look on eBay for some used Banana Splits outfits. Make sure you wash them and bear in mind that is not a good plan for those late August, outdoor afternoon festivals. And if you are one of those kids who liked Bugs Bunny in a dress, calm down. Furries are not sexual deviants. Even the ones with those cute little tails.
4. Doctors and nurses can wear masks all the time, but it takes years of training. If that’s too much of a time investment, just buy a mask and scrubs and tell everyone you are an extra on the remake of Devo’s "Jocko Homo" music video. (You'll probably need to look that one up because Devo is almost in the R&R Hall of Fame.)
5. Start a Slipknot cover band. No, forget that one. Nobody wants to see a Slipknot cover band. We know that, because very few people want to see the real Slipknot.
6. Instead of Slipknot, get a job playing for Swedish metal band Ghost. No one will even know it’s you. Come to think of it, it could be you already … how would we know? Wow, that’s creepy.
7. Put down your guitar and start doing burlesque. Burlesque dancers are experts at hiding all the little bits and pieces, and what’s more “personal” than your smile? For your big finish, you could whip off your mask to reveal ... a little tiny mask underneath! Please shave that foot-long beard, though. And maybe wax that, um, other beard.
8. Rename your band “The Nancy Pelosis.”
9. Light your shows like Tool, A Perfect Circle or that Beach House show at the Bomb Factory. You know, so dark that no one can see you and you just wasted a certain photographer’s evening.
10. Last and maybe least, we have one word for you. No, not “plastics,” but “Kabuki”. There have been a few hugely successful bands that incorporate Kabuki masks, including Baby Metal and the Shaolin Death-Squad. If you combine the commercial success of those two bands, the average is pretty good. Just don’t confuse Kabuki theater with Kabuki syndrome, which is a serious medical condition. Look it up, along with the Devo video.
COVID is a serious medical condition, too. No matter what your choice is when it comes to masking, we won’t judge you. But if you end up going full Furry on us, you might get a little judgment, and hey, you might get our digits, too!
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