Don’t you just love beards? Musicalypse thinks beards are pretty great. In fact, we think they’re so great that when we found out that The Beards – an Australian band that has dedicated their musical career to spreading their bearded message to the world – were coming to Stockholm, we grew out our beards and hopped on the plane from Finland to Sweden to see their show at Debaser on November 23rd, 2014.
Before the gig, we managed to grab the guys for what ended up being a fairly lengthy interview, where we discussed all things beardy. Be sure to check it out!
One might argue that beard love overtook the crowd before the show even got started. While they were changing the stage from the opener, the beardly of Debaser chanted, “Beards, beards, give us beards!” and when Roxette’s song “She’s Got the Look” began playing in the background, the crowd began singing, “She’s got the beard!” Even when the lights dimmed at twenty past nine and Thunderstruck began to play, the crowd chanted “beards” instead of “thunder” and “beardstruck” instead of… well, you get the point.
Before I tell you what happened when Johann Beardraven came on stage, let me just say this: Damn, that was a lot of great beards. Thick beards, short beards, long beards, mustachioed beards… I would go so far as to say that the crowd was probably a bare minimum of 90% bearded. Maybe closer to 95%. It was glorious.
Nevertheless, after Beardstruck finished, Johann Beardraven came on stage to uproarious applause, shook some hands, combed his beard, stood before his bearded keyboard, and began playing the intro track from their latest release, “Beards are Back.” When the song picked up, the band joined him, and as it finished, Johann Beardraven welcomed the crowd and asked if they were in the mood… for beards! There was a cheer, and he said, “Me too,” which led right into “I’m in the Mood… For Beards.” This was accompanied by a bit of pelvic thrusting during the “hold your body tight” lines, and at the “I wanna feel every piece of you” point he knelt down to stroke the beards in the front row. The song had a very dramatically long outro, where Johann Beardraven declared that they had a thing or two to tell the crowd about beards, and then went back to rubbing beards and having his beard rubbed by the crowd as the song finished up.
Johann Beardraven was attended to by The Boy, who provided him with his keyboard and saxophone as needed throughout the show. He suspiciously had no beard, but I was told earlier by their manager that no one is allowed to have a beard because The Beards are unwilling to give orders to anyone with a beard, which makes sense. I was delighted to see some behind-the-head keyboard shredding during “This Beard Stays.”
There were some slight technical difficulties after “This Beard Stays,” where Johann Beardraven and Nathaniel Beard requested that the bearded sound-man give them some more vocals in their monitors, as well as a general request for more beard. Nathaniel Beard then went on say that a few years ago, a beardless man told them to play in Sweden, and they said no. But, recently a bearded man asked them to play in Sweden, and they said, “It’s a deal,” and got on the next flight to sing some songs about beards. The crowd got jumping and screaming to “If Your Dad Doesn’t Have a Beard, You’ve Got Two Mums,” singing along and touching Nathaniel Beard and Johann Beardraven’s beards and shaking their hands when given the opportunity. Before the end, Johann Beardraven was so overwhelmed by all the quality beards in the crowd that he had to hug as many of the bearded people as he could get his hands around, declaring his love for Sweden. When he tried to speak after the song ended, he was drowned out by chants of “beards, beards!” from the audience, and ended up stopping to pump his fists and drink a beer. He then said that that was the end of the show, the rest of it would be the crowd chanting for an hour while gets drunk.
I love a band that talks to and connects with the crowd, and the Beards had no shortage of this in their show. They welcomed the special groups in the crowd, such as the Swedish Beard Alliance, or was it the United Beards of Sweden (who were wearing shirts depicting their club)? I wasn’t sure if they were the same thing or two separate entities. The band asked if anyone could be a member, and the response was that, as long as you had a beard, you were in, so the band asked to join and were accepted with enthusiasm. They also pointed out the Tactical Beard Owners Club in the crowd, who are, “a worldwide organization comprised entirely of combat-trained beard wearers.” If you have any trouble, you were referred to them for help, unless you don’t have a beard, in which case they were likely to make trouble for you. Then again, if you didn’t have a beard, you might already be dead, but life without a beard isn’t really a life anyway. They also mentioned that it was their bearded merch guy’s birthday and that you should probably buy him a drink or tickle his beard.
Facey McStubblington was introduced fairly early on as the very nice-bearded, nice-guy guitarist, who actually owns his own guitar after paying off his dad. One thing that I wasn’t aware of was the fact that, in “My Baby Left Me for a Man Without a Beard,” he is actually the one who sings the, “I’ve been growin’ this here beard,” part of the song, and he went on to sing while Johann Beardraven played the saxophone. Nathaniel Beard was then introduced as the one playing the bass. They said that they weren’t sure what exactly a bass was or what it does, but since all the other bands were doing it, they felt like they had to get involved.
One of the most fantastic parts of the show was when they picked someone from the front row, a Sydney-born fellow named Lars, and brought him up on stage. They admitted to have been out and about, singing about beards and making sacred oaths, and wanted Lars to do the latter. His oath was to never ever shave his beard again. Lars agreed to do it, so Johan Beardraven said to repeat after him, followed by, “I pledge my life and my family’s lives, if I shave off my beard then take a knife to my wife, take a gun to my son, and my two beardless mums, you may slay me this day if I shave it away.” Naturally, Lars didn’t know the lyrics to the song by heart, so he simply swore not to shave his beard. They thought that was good, but it wasn’t official. To make up for it, Nathaniel Beard called for The Boy to come out and bring The Chair of Honor so the band could recite the pledge to him on his behalf. By listening to it, it was thus legally binding (likewise to anyone listening, incidentally). So Lars took his seat in The Chair of Honor and they played “The Bearded Pledge” to him. Afterward, he got a beer and got to sit there while they serenaded him with “The Beard Accessory Store.” Lars looked like he was enjoying himself, snapping a couple selfies of himself and the band while he had the chance. And of course, all of the beard talk and bearded pledge taking was putting Johann Beardraven in the mood for a song about beards.
There was a bit of a sexy bearded vibe in the air, which led to “Touch Me in the Beard,” which was accompanied by some sensual saxophone and a lot of pelvic thrusting. Johann Beardraven said that it was likely that there was a special beard in the room that you might have been eyeing, and now was the time to reach out and touch that beard. There was also that delightful moment of, “Put your hands between my legs and touch me in the beard,” where he slid his hand down his body, and up to his beard.
As the night grew late, Johann Beardraven thanked everyone for being such a wonderful bearded crowd. John Beardman Jr. was introduced on drums before “No Beard, No Good,” though he wasn’t able to introduce the song because he doesn’t have a microphone, you know, because he’s the drummer. And lastly, Johann Beardraven made some recommendations for people who didn’t have beards: shake a bearded person’s hand, stroke their beard, buy a bearded man a drink, and of course, you could have sex with a bearded man. The sexy, sexy band was introduced one last time, and perhaps you were looking at John Beardman Jr. and thinking, “You want to grab him by his facial hair!” At the climax of “You Should Consider Having Sex With a Bearded Man,” Johann Beardraven tore his shirt open, displaying the full glory of a bearded man.
Sadly, there was only one song in the encore, though it was a good one. “I Like Beards” ended the night, with a nice long part, similar to “I’m in the Mood” at the beginning of the show, where Johann Beardraven thanked everyone for coming, and then finished by telling us a few more things about beards. That was, in short, that he doesn’t really like anything except beards.
It’s hard to put to words how much fun this show was without having you actually experience it. The performance was fantastic, the banter was hilarious, and the band really connects to the crowd. Between bringing a fan on stage and allowing the crowd to rub their beards (and rubbing the crowd’s beards in return), the show was absolutely perfect. While I don’t recommend coming to one of their shows without a beard as it may be detrimental to your safety, I do recommend everyone to grow and/or acquire a beard and check them out if you ever get the chance because they are absolutely fantastic. This may, perhaps, actually be the most fun I’ve ever had at a gig. And hey, fingers crossed that they’ll bring me up on stage for “All the Bearded Ladies in Munich!” A girl can dream, right?
1. Beards are Back (intro)
2. I’m in the Mood… for Beards!
3. This Beard Stays
4. If Your Dad Doesn’t Have a Beard, You’ve Got Two Mums
5. Stroking My Beard
6. All the Bearded Ladies
7. My Baby Left Me for a Man Without a Beard
8. Lars’ bearded pledge (interlude)
9. The Bearded Pledge
10. Born With a Beard
11. Touch Me in the Beard
12. No Beard, No Good
13. You Should Consider Having Sex With a Bearded Man
14. I Like Beards
Photos: Marco Manzi, Jana Blomqvist