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January 13, 2008 Slideshows » Music

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Banhart, ?uestlove, Martsch -- The Top 10 Beards in Modern Music 

You're strong. Carefree. Rugged. And your face is warm. While the mustache has become an ironic joke, the beard will always be a scratchy, somewhat pungent sign of manliness (or homelessness). It represents wisdom, and proves you don't have to shave for any old day job. When even hot girls tolerate your pube-topiary, consider adding yourself to our elite list of: The Top 10 Beards in Modern Music. �By Dustin Glick
10. Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene It isn't easy leading a band made up of 400 other smaller bands. But that's what Kevin Drew does. You think he'd be able to do that without his ever-present beard? Not a chance in hell or Canada. Yes, his beard gives him the pondering power he needs to organize a band that is the indie equivalent of Voltron. Sure, the beard gets shorter from time to time, but maybe his special lady friend Feist doesn't like it too long. And that's okay, because she sold a lot of iPods last year.
9. ?uestlove and Black Thought of The Roots The Roots have been around for a long time, and there's always been beards in the picture. Whether it's the huge bushy beard connected to ?uestlove's giant afro or Black Thought's smoothly trimmed chin strap, The Roots have been rocking beards since the days when Scott Storch was playing keys for them. Sure, everyone down with the Okay Player scene seems to have had a beard at some point: Common, Mos Def, K-os, Mr. Lif. But ?uestlove and Black Thought are committed. They're lifers. They use the power of the beard well, even if it's just so that ?uest can look like a Pete Rock album cover.
8. Jim James and Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket These good ol Kentucky boys used to be quite the hairy bunch. When the band's career was just starting out, seeing them live was like watching a bunch of sheepdogs play music. These days they've trimmed down a bit, but lead singer Jim James and drummer Patrick Hallahan have wisely held onto their beards, resisting fame's call to clean-shaven faces, unlike those pretty boy Kings of Leon. Since making it big, the Kings' beards and staches have receded faster than Greenland's glaciers. But My Morning Jacket remains strong and bearded. Would you expect anything less from the home of bourbon?
7. Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders of Mastodon When your band is named after a gigantic dinosaur elephant, you better look the part. And what better tools to reinforce that beastly image than massive, scary beards? Coupled with tattoo-covered arms, the beards of these two shredders strike fear into old ladies on the street. While they sing about Moby Dick and Captain Ahab, they look like they might have been on the boat.
6. Devendra Banhart This scraggly looking waifman seems to be the leader of the so-called "freak-folk" scene, whether he likes it or not. He certainly has the "freak" part down and that's due largely to his bird's nest of a beard. Without it, he'd just be another long-haired hippie throwback. With it, he looks a younger, nicer Charles Manson. He could also pass for some sort of wandering wizard you'd catch not in Lord of the Rings but in one of those cheap rip-off. Also, see him live this week at the SF MOMA.
5. Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio This man is a ball of hair. When at its longest, it's hard to see where his beard ends and his fro begins. Some could say his beard encircles his entire head a tilted halo of hair, a lion's mane of bristles. At times Kyp looks like an Eskimo peering out from within his furry hood. One can only imagine what he would look like if stranded on a dessert island. He'd be found, years later, just a giant mound of hair with glasses.
4. Kerry King of Slayer This evil MF looks like he just finished eating the guys from ZZ Top. What a badass. With his pointy devil beard and tattooed bald head, his face is like one big exclamation point. And what word comes before that exclamation point? METAL! Beat that, Serj Tazjizjikijkshistan.
3. Will Oldham aka Bonny Prince Billy This dude has got the beard of a hermit. It's the beard of a man you'd find making moonshine in the middle of the woods. The beard of a hobo, a vagabond traveler who rides the boxcars with nothing but a harmonica and his gunnysack. This beard has been around. It's seen things. You could probably see some things in it, actually. Sure, its length ebbs and flows, but its spirit remains. Even if he shaved the whole thing off completely, in its place would be a ghost beard, only visible in infrared light or to dogs and small creepy children.
2. Doug Martsch of Built to Spill Doug Martsch is considered one of indie rock's elder statesmen, although with his masterful beard, he looks more like indie rock's great grandfather. And when at its fullest what a wonderful beard it is. It is a beard worthy of Moses, or perhaps some 17th century British guy with a pipe and an Airedale. With that beard, he could easily walk onto a civil war battlefield and command an entire army.
1. Tie: Rastas From Burning Spear and Toots to Ziggy and Damien Marley, the rastas love the beard. For these guys, it's not about style, but about being too stoned to shave. Jah has placed the beard upon our faces, what right do we have to shave it off? None just ask Matisyahu. The beard is a way of life. It connects you with the Creator. And you can hide your weed in it.
For more top tens by D. Glick, bookmark our culture blog All Shook Down.
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10. Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene It isn't easy leading a band made up of 400 other smaller bands. But that's what Kevin Drew does. You think he'd be able to do that without his ever-present beard? Not a chance in hell or Canada. Yes, his beard gives him the pondering power he needs to organize a band that is the indie equivalent of Voltron. Sure, the beard gets shorter from time to time, but maybe his special lady friend Feist doesn't like it too long. And that's okay, because she sold a lot of iPods last year.
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