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Glammed out opulence: Rococo punk through the decades
January 23, 2013 8:09 PM   Subscribe

If gears and brass aren't your thing, and you'd prefer your alternate history to take its influences from 18th century Paris, then Rococo punk might be your scene. But this is no new reaction to steampunk. Oh no, the Boston band The Upper Crust ("Let Them Eat Rock," "We're Finished with Finishing School," "Little Lord Fauntleroy;" previously) go back to 1995, and before them was Malice Mizer ("Illuminati," "Bel Air," "Au Revoir,"), though their visual style wasn't just Rococo glam (as seen here in "Beast of Blood" and "Garnet"). But the grandfathers to all these young punks was Adam and the Ants ("Ant Music," "Kings of the Wild Frontier," "The Prince Charming Revue" [YT playlist]).
posted by filthy light thief (46 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Number of Things That Are a Thing to Peak in 2051
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:11 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


My erstwhile bass player back in the Science Park days had the dubious claim of being punched out by a member of the Upper Crust at a particularly infamous Cambridge, MA performance. Those were the days.
posted by mykescipark at 8:14 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]




My old boss, Tom Warburton, was a big fan of The Upper Crust -- enough so that he asked them to do a cameo on an episode of his show, Codename: Kids Next Door.

It's kind of killing me that I can't seem to find a clip anywhere on line...
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:23 PM on January 23, 2013


After watching a bunch of Adam and the Ants, they reminded of that newish band who go around with the dramatic face make-up, whose name and other descriptive elements I now forget. They weren't Rococo of any vague sort, but more a riff on the paint streak across the face, and maybe some feathers in their hair, and a bunch of bright colored clothes.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:30 PM on January 23, 2013


(Also, I grew up using my mother's cold cream to make Adam Ant makeup on my face so I could dance around the living room to "Antmusic." I will forever be in his debt.)
posted by mykescipark at 8:31 PM on January 23, 2013


filthy light thief, was it Empire of the Sun?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:33 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Adam Ant has been in the wars a bit. I ran into a fan in a Kings Cross pub a couple of years ago, and have been following events since - there's a story there about how fandom can organise itself to look after a fallen hero, which certainly happened here.
posted by Devonian at 8:34 PM on January 23, 2013



After watching a bunch of Adam and the Ants, they reminded of that newish band who go around with the dramatic face make-up, whose name and other descriptive elements I now forget. They weren't Rococo of any vague sort, but more a riff on the paint streak across the face, and maybe some feathers in their hair, and a bunch of bright colored clothes.


Empire of the Sun, who used to be Sleepy Jackson, a baroque-pop band based on George Harrison. But they mostly ripped off MGMT and other face-painted hippie hipster acts. I could never get Adam Ant... I was always on XTC's side.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:34 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


No. Please no. Just no. no
posted by greta simone at 8:37 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could never get Adam Ant... I was always on XTC's side.

There is room in this world for both! (I say this as someone who has memorized far more XTC songs than Adam Ant ones.)
posted by mykescipark at 8:38 PM on January 23, 2013


This stuff is punk? Malice Mizer sounds like would-be Malmsteen to me. The junction of hard rock and glam rock was all leather, lace and ruffles.

To wit: Queen in Love. And bonus (with wardrobe and rocker diva wails): Queen in Love in Leningrad.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:45 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for Time's take on how hip this is, but this all seems a lot like a rehash of New Romantic, liberally sprinkled with some glitter, romantic goth, slathered with globs of Steampunk for flavour and a bit of as Malice Mizer (Visual K?) turned to brown.

I don't care for this made-up trend.

Also, YOU FORGOT FALCO and Army of Lovers.
posted by Mezentian at 8:47 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


With regard to the Upper Crust, any band that rhymes "butler" with "subtler" in a song lyric is OK by me.
posted by scratch at 8:54 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


a rehash of New Romantic, liberally sprinkled with some glitter, romantic goth, slathered with globs of Steampunk for flavour

You mean like this? Notice Blackie's arm sawblades.

Really, this is just the usual fashion cycle. We've had early/mid 80s nostalgia over the last few years. Now its time for late 80s/early 90s. Stussy and Hypercolor all over again. Soon enough after that it will be young ironists will be getting Blossom back tattoos, starting telnet only BBSes and rediscovering glitchcore remixes of OPP or whatever.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:01 PM on January 23, 2013


The 80s almost killed me. Let's not recall it so fondly.

But seriously, there's a strain of 50s nostalgia in punk now, and hopefully that'll continue.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:03 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


That synth riff in Rock Me Amadeus is some serious fuckin' business.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:05 PM on January 23, 2013


filthy light thief, was it Empire of the Sun?

Yes, thanks!

Empire of the Sun, who used to be Sleepy Jackson, a baroque-pop band based on George Harrison. But they mostly ripped off MGMT and other face-painted hippie hipster acts

Oh yeah, it's all coming back now. Damned catchy pop tunes and ridiculous outfits.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:05 PM on January 23, 2013


The 80s almost killed me. Let's not recall it so fondly.

I don't know how it is in Australia, but it feels like the radio's been ripping off the 80s since like 2006 or so.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:06 PM on January 23, 2013


I think Malice Mizer is more a case of convergent evolution and should probably be considered separately from the other bands in this post. visual kei is really its own thing, although its not an especially descriptive term from a purely musical standpoint, as you might guess.

There's a bit of knowledge from being fourteen that I never guessed would come in handy again.
posted by invitapriore at 9:07 PM on January 23, 2013


The 80s almost killed me. Let's not recall it so fondly.

I don't know how it is in Australia, but it feels like the radio's been ripping off the 80s since like 2006 or so.


In Australia its exactly the same, only from a bit earlier than that. Except now its changed to some weird tribal indie mutant thing. I dunno, I don't listen to the radio. I blame it on the ads for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:07 PM on January 23, 2013


Oops, I missed that link in the OP. Point still stands, though.
posted by invitapriore at 9:08 PM on January 23, 2013


I don't know how it is in Australia, but it feels like the radio's been ripping off the 80s since like 2006 or so.

Lately I've been hearing Wild Nothing on the radio. It's basically indistinguishable from actual 80s music.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:37 PM on January 23, 2013


Louis IV is worth a mention here.
posted by Ansible at 9:40 PM on January 23, 2013


Everything I do for fun is getting co-opted.
posted by _paegan_ at 9:52 PM on January 23, 2013


It seems like a missed opportunity to call this "rococo punk" instead of "punk rockcoco".
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:49 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah America. You've never really grasped the true meaning of 'punk'.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:56 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Adam Ant is British. The Ramones and Black Flag are American. QED.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:16 AM on January 24, 2013


mughalpunk
convivenciapunk
hunpunk
reconstructionpunk
eunuchpunk
monasterypunk
carthagepunk
punk-era-punk
posted by threeants at 1:51 AM on January 24, 2013


Ah America. You've never really grasped the true meaning of 'punk'.

dare you to go to new york and say that.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:20 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, The Upper Crust! A roommate about 15 years ago listened to them a lot. All I could do when I entered the apartment was exclaim "My Dear Sir! Are you listening to those ribald musicians again?" To which he would reply "By God, Sir, I most certainly am!" Ahhh, the halcyon days of library school.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:45 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Adam Ant played at 101 Club.
*TRUMP CARD*

Americans may have invented punkish-garage rock, but the UK perfected it.

dare you to go to new york and say that.

Yes, I will look at that one wall at CBGBs and .... um....
posted by Mezentian at 4:35 AM on January 24, 2013


I think they are trying a bit too hard.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:03 AM on January 24, 2013


I love Adam and The Ants (and also XTC), but this just makes me flashback to that dreadful Sofia Coppola "Marie Antoinette."
posted by thivaia at 5:55 AM on January 24, 2013


I am Adam Ant that Marie Antoinette was a major disappointment.

Adam Ant is British. The Ramones and Black Flag are American. QED.

Why do you overlook facts that Clash with your proposition?
posted by ersatz at 6:24 AM on January 24, 2013


And then there's the 20th century: dieselpunk, atompunk, and Helvetipunk.
posted by acb at 6:26 AM on January 24, 2013


Clash followed the Pistols (AFAIK).

Pistols were an amalgam of US proto-punk which was basically sped up garage music (including the NY Dolls).
Americans created punk, but didn't quite know what it was or what to do with it.
posted by Mezentian at 6:28 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This stuff is punk? Malice Mizer sounds like would-be Malmsteen to me.

There is no more punk in Rococo punk than there is in steampunk. Except for those who add some punk aesthetic into their looks, I viewed this as a modern nod to the overly lavish Rococo style.

With that, I added Malice Mizer into the mix as an example of the florid clothing in the time between Adam and the Ants and The Upper Crust, not a direct lineage between the bands.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:00 AM on January 24, 2013


Yes, Thee Upper Crust (in my mind, they always needed that extra 'e') were fun. That is unless you ask a former co-worker I used to carpool with whom I tormented with Ye Olde Badde Boyes of Bofton and Cambridge-Mostly Cambridge. (And by carpool, I mean I hitched a ride in his car a day or two a week and made him listen to horrible music that he hated.) But they were plenty fun when they were just The Satanics at T. T. the Bears. Too bad there's no video. It wasn't rococo. It sure as hell wasn't punk. But it was terrifically big, dumb, rock.
posted by Gotanda at 7:55 AM on January 24, 2013


I will always love the Upper Crust for their song title "I Got My Ascot n' My Dickie." Also, I think one of the members (heh) went on to be a speech writer for Bill Clinton, though I may be remembering this wrong.
posted by staggering termagant at 8:00 AM on January 24, 2013


Yes, Ted Widmer.
posted by staggering termagant at 8:01 AM on January 24, 2013


"Adam Ant is British. The Ramones and Black Flag are American. QED."

Black Flag Kills Ants
posted by Room 641-A at 8:10 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


As an old Adam Ant fan, I am really hoping that when I go through these links, I find something Ant-sounding.
posted by immlass at 9:02 AM on January 24, 2013


I'll save you the trouble: there are only three Adam Ant audio/video links, and those are the last three links in the post. The rest are to two other bands with quite different styles.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:16 AM on January 24, 2013


I don’t know what it means that I have all 3 of these acts in my iTunes. Not a huge fan of the first two, but I love the Ant man.
posted by bongo_x at 9:39 AM on January 24, 2013


In a bizarre confluence of events, a local group putting on a "Steampunk Maker's Faire" sent out a press release stating "We will predominantly search for steampunk makers and crafters, but also incorporate other vendors who make lolita and sci-fi related goods." I was rather confused by the usage of lolita in that context, and being at work felt it was probably better that I not go into detective mode immediately.

Someone else checked into it and it turns out that it's a reference to a style in a clothing line by Mana from Malice Mizer called "Elegant Gothic Lolita", confirming my suspicions that it was "probably something Japanese".
posted by nTeleKy at 11:28 AM on January 24, 2013


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