Was glam a rejection of gender? A reification of norms, tied up with a neat boa? A cultural blip where fashionistas with high cheekbones and an unsubtle command of chorus writing could play dress up and kill time before punk came along? Yes, yes, and yes. Even as late as 1991, squares were still misunderstanding glam; setting the canard of “grunge killed hair metal” in stone, as if Alice In Chains wasn’t rewriting “Do The Strand” for a new generation of the differently doomed. (Shortly thereafter, the greatest American music misunderstanders of all—the English—thought they were rejecting grunge by getting back into glam rock. Which was great and all, but Suede and Alice In Chains would have been a boffo double bill.)
Punk rock has always had a complicated relationship with the glam rock that gave birth to it. While punk’s denunciation of history never meant throwing out one’s glitter rock LPs, and just about every English punk musician of a certain age will readily cite David Bowie and Mick Ronson’s appearance on Top of the Pops in 1972 as life changing, by 1983, large subsections of punk also decided that popularity, fun, and effeminate footwear were signs of inauthenticity.
Those were best consigned to counterrevolutionaries, new wavers, and all the other sellouts with insufficiently austere hairdos. Pantomiming the masculine and shirtless hip-shake of Iggy Pop and the Stooges never went out of style, but aping the gender fluidity of Bowie or Bolan would require a subculture (seemingly determined to never once clap in time) to admit that maybe it had been wrong about disco.
Was glam a rejection of gender? A reification of norms, tied up with a neat boa?
Fast forward to 2022: Gender fluidity is scary in a way that Bowie is lucky to be absent for and guitar rock is a hobby, like collecting porcelain chickens or space exploration. Glam rock is back where it belongs; the purview of total freaks.
Peace De Résistance and Chronophage are two outfits originally hailing from Austin, Texas, with Peace De Résistance calling New York home now for several years. They are friends, which is always nice, and there’s some overlap in other musical projects. Both acts are loosely associated with what is loosely called punk. Whether both bands would call themselves “glam rock” is immaterial. Neither they nor I are being paid the big bucks to do anything, let alone determine genre, so we are all free. But both band’s recent albums (Peace De Résistance’s debut LP, Bits And Pieces, and Chronophage’s self-titled third) draw from the sultry confusion of the 1970’s fourth or fifth most debauched music scene.
Their respective treasure/trash maps might lead to different sonic destinations; Bits and Pieces revels in Motor City drug-muck and Chronophage’s s/t resides in whatever town is big enough for both them and Sparks. But both bands end up working the same line, doing time in the velvet goldmine just like their daddies did before them.