We really hesitated on the title “Dressed to Kill.” If you are familiar with Kiss, Dressed to Kill is the title of their third album. The album cover shows the band wearing suits while still in full make-up. If you are not familiar with Kiss, then the title may seem a bit extreme. No band better represents the characters that musicians can create on stage than Kiss. Their make-up, space suits, giant boots, and light-up guitars really ensure that no one could ever truly duplicate what they do and everyone will always remember their image.
This is not to say that getting on stage requires a performer to become someone or something else. Oftentimes, the rock star persona is merely an extension of the person. If we look at Mick Jagger, Stevie Nicks, or Joe Perry on and off stage, they are pretty much one and the same. One of our SoundLife instructors actually ran into Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top at the airport a few months back, and although his long beard made him instantly recognizable, Billy still needed to put on his shades before allowing a picture.
In honor of our upcoming Showcase at Zebulon this month, we thought it would be fun to showcase some different fashion for the stage and highlight a few places that specialize in mini person (i.e. kids) sizing. The stage is a wonderful opportunity for students to express themselves fully and have fun, not only through what they play, but also through how they move and what they wear. Here are some classics…
The classic Rock-and-Roll look was defined in the 60s and 70s by bands like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, and Led Zeppelin. No two male musicians embody this look more than Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards. For the ladies, nobody embodies this more than Stevie Nicks. To this very day, these are the examples we look at that define the “rock-and-roll” look.
The best way to put together this look for yourself or your student is to hit up some vintage stores. Los Angeles has one on almost every block. The most notable shops are Wasteland and Buffalo Exchange. For younger kids, we recommend Grow Kids Grow. You can even find rock-and-roll items at Target. Items for this look don't need to be expensive. The musicians who made these looks famous did it when they were virtually penniless.
The look always has a base of fitted slim jeans or slacks. Jeans or slacks will also work for girls, but if we’re modeling Stevie, she has always been known for long flowing dresses. Everything on top of the base is creative and funky. This look can combine scarfs, belts, necklaces, bracelets, and bandanas. The style is meant to be fun and certainly something that stands out.
We’re going to call this next look the “Grunge” style, or the “I Don’t Want You to Know That I Care” look. In the 90s, Nirvana took all of the Glam from the 80s and threw it into a giant trashcan. They came out with jeans, t-shirts, and of course...the flannel. This flannel isn’t necessary, but the jeans and t-shirt look will always be in style. Dave Grohl still wears his classic black tee with jeans when he appears with Foo Fighters. Finding fitted band t-shirts can be tough, but we really like Little Rock Store. They sell band t-shirts for pretty much any band in any size. Put one of these on with some jeans, and you are good to go.
We’re going to call this last look the “Character Creation.” Some of the best and most enduring examples of this look are Kiss, AC/DC’s Angus Young, Alice Cooper, and David Bowie. These are characters that the artists created just for the stage, and over time they became synonymous with the band or artist. In the case of Angus Young, he wore a school uniform on stage. Alice Cooper put some simple, but effective black makeup around his eyes. And Kiss, well, they went all in. Kids can have a blast creating their on-stage characters. Ideas for this character creation can be found in your own home. We suggest looking through uniforms and old halloween costumes. Have an arts and crafts weekend making something truly cool that no one will ever forget!
Now, before we end this article, we do have to make one very important disclaimer: While dressing up for the stage is fun and important, the music still needs to do the talking. Students who don’t practice and ensure that they are prepared will not be confident on stage, and without confidence, it's very difficult to let go and truly have fun. By not preparing, we are essentially preparing to fail. The playing is always the foundation on which everything else is built.