"That gospel yeah yeah sound'

Published Jul. 17, 1998|Updated Sep. 13, 2005

(ran TP edition)

They've come from D.C. to hear you say, "yeah!" Part political science, part gospel, they're the MakeUp.

Beneath the MakeUp's caustic rock 'n' roll freakouts, mellow church organ breakdowns and pleadings to "Let me hear you say "Yeah' " lies an expansive philosophy. In the words of MakeUp artist Ian Svenonius, "We're trying to belie the trend in the industry, which is to downsize the productive element and increase the size of the consumer body. Including the entire audience in the performance expands the producer base."

But it is not mere audience participation that the MakeUp hopes to elicit. It is attempting to conjure up the true power of a congregation.

The MakeUp endeavors to achieve this via a gospel music format: topical sermons, call and response vocals, primitive rhythms and the voice of Svenonius.

Though the MakeUp is apt to play quietly so the band and the crowd can share a discourse, Ian Svenonius is known more for his inhuman shrieking. His screech reminds you of the Artist when he wails "and no particular sign, am I compatible with!" at the end of Kiss.

Svenonius sees other comparisons between the MakeUp and the Artist. "He's also very interested in holy music and the strength of the congregation," Svenonius said in a phone interview. "The (crowd) is the flesh and blood, the band is just the skeleton. I think (the Artist) understands that."

The members of the MakeUp, with the exception of bassist/vocalist Michelle Mae (formerly of the Frumpies), once powered the artful noise-punk band the Nation of Ulysses.

Like the MakeUp, the Nation of Ulysees stressed the communicative power of live music and had a home at do-it-yourself independent label Dischord Records. And like the MakeUp, the Nation of Ulysees booked its own shows, interviews and tours. Its records included sleeves containing political manifestos urging young people to destroy the capitalist structure by building a youth-oriented society. Eventually, the band began to feel that the over-the-top nature of the music was alienating the audience instead of drawing it in. The Nation of Ulysses began to feel "abstract and pointless," Svenonius said.

Thus, the more dynamic, inclusive music of the MakeUp was born.

"MakeUp is an attempt to fuse all (of our) ideals into a show. . . . It's less reliant on a record sleeve (to get the point across)," said Svenonius.

All of the band's records, including Destination: Love, After Dark and Sound Verite, have been recorded live. The records are designed to draw the listener to the live show.

Fittingly enough, the MakeUp's performance at the Rubb on Wednesday is the second installment in the club's fin de siecle series, which highlights music for the new millennium.