Weirdo Beardcore

All Music Guide genre entry, just in case they ever need one

Related Styles: Antifolk, Psychedelphia, Outsider Art, Spazzcore, Beard Rock, Neo-Hippie, Jamband Decade: 2000s Roots and Influences: Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Fugs, Holy Modal Rounders, Godz

Weirdo Beardcore (also known as "Beardo Weirdcore" or simply "Beardo" in some circles) was an underground rock subgenre popular in the early to mid '00s. Its practitioners crafted sprawling, out-of-control messes by gluing together melted pieces of Krautrock car wrecks, acid-folk freak-outs, fake whiteboy reggae and hip-hop, dirty campfire sing-alongs, and Frank Zappa's dead body. Weirdo Beardcore artists also followed a strict dress code that emphasized loose-fitting, handmade tie-dyed clothing, bright colors, and lots of facial hair. They formed large, loose, music-and-mayhem collectives that resembled wandering hobo armies.

In late 2003, Beardo Weirdcore was born when founding bands Need New Body and Dufus released their seminal UFOand 1:3:1 albums within weeks of each other. Need New Body, a shape-shifting entity from Philadelphia, had released an equally bizarre eponymous record in 2001 to little fanfare. Similarly, the New York City-based Dufus brigade (led by singer-songwriter-fashion designer-cult founder Seth Faergolzia) was a fixture on the local antifolk scene and had several obscure self-titled releases under its belt. But it was Dufus's landmark 2003 albums that served as scene-making rallying cries, uniting unshaven, sonically adventurous pot smokers from around the world under the Beardo umbrella. However, the roots of the schism that would ultimately divide Weirdo Beardcore also lay in these masterworks.

Dufus, from the style's non-ADHD wing
photo: Jen Knee
Dufus, from the style's non-ADHD wing

Need New Body were the forefathers of the so-called "ADHD" school of Beardo, meaning their stylistically schizoid soup rarely congealed into actual songs lasting longer than a minute. Although UFO included selections that sounded like a video game eating a funk band, a Martian mariachi trio on acid playing a wedding dance, early Sonic Youth killing a cat, Wayne Coyne free-associating his grocery list (which includes "beef hearts"!), the lounge-jazz parts of Andre 3000's The Love Below, and a back-porch bluegrass jam, only a handful of its 23 tracks featured discernible verses and choruses. Dufus, on the other hand, tended to adhere more closely to traditional song structure, although no one would ever mistake any of 1:3:1's deranged populist show tunes, acoustic-punk fight songs, or dirty-hippie party anthems for anything from the Great American Songbook.

Ultimately, the Weirdo Beardcore movement proved short-lived. Seeking to heal the schism, members of both bands shaved faces and heads clean in a peace ritual in late 2004.


Dufus play Mercury Lounge April 4.

 
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