The skinny on pants, drugs and rock n’ roll

I’ve been to a lot of concerts around town in recent months, ranging from the hip twin duo Tegan and Sara (pictured below) and the gangly, quirky Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman to the melodramatic, post-punk British duo The Kills and TRL-friendly pop-punkers The Medic Droid. Despite the clear differences in musical genre, if I had to isolate one common thread between all of the shows it would be the skinny jeans. As far as the eye could see, in all cases, the thought process behind the pants of choice for performers and concertgoers alike seemed to be “the tighter the better.”

Tegan and Sara, skinny jean enthusiasts.

Although tight pants are often associated with the fashions of hipster culture — along with ironic t-shirts, disheveled hair and classic shoes — I couldn’t help but wonder whether there was more to it. Surely, the overwhelming spread of the Gospel According to Tight Pants could be attributed to more than just a few influential hipster rockers in Brooklyn sitting around and deciding to borrow their girlfriends’ jeans for a gig. I went to investigate to who or what could be owed the credit (or blame?) for getting the ball rolling.

As it turns out, according to an article from Kitsch Magazine, the mid-1950s breeded what we now call the “skinny jean” as actresses like Audrey Hepburn wore the fitted looks in her films. As New York Magazine put it, “[s]kinny trousers are the uniform of the hard-edged and underfed.” As rock/rebel types like Elvis Presley, James Dean and Marlon Brando also gained prominence through the fifties into the the sixties, they too were known not just for their anti-establishment attitude, but also for their tight-fitting jeans.

From the late sixties into the seventies, fashion trends steered away from skinnier fits, as bellbottoms and larger fit pants emerged through time. In the decades that followed, skinny jeans continued to have their hold within the punk and rock subcultures, while mainstream designers moved toward bootcuts. Designers like Nicholas Ghesquiere, Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney borrowed heavily from music subcultures in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when skinny jeans began to hit the runway in prominent fashion shows.

All of this led up to today, where the skinny jean has made its mark, thanks to the decades of musicians that maintained their zeal for the skin-tight aesthetic. The trend has reached all corners of the globe, leaving some, including medical researchers, to wonder what potential costs may exist with the fad’s spread. In January 2003, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a letter detailing the cases of three women “who had developed a nerve condition similar to carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of regularly wearing hip-hugging jeans.” The letter went on to warn that tight-fitting hipster jeans can “squeeze a sensory nerve under the hip bone, causing a tingling, burning sensation called paresthesia.”

Researchers in Australia have also examined the issue, wondering if men wearing tighter jeans might be risking infertility, stemming from a 1986 scientific study that suggested that tight pants and underwear lower sperm count (subsequently sparking the trend of baggier jeans in the mainstream). Sydney andrologist Dr. Rick Gordon asked members of the band Avant Garde to wear tight pants for a period of six weeks. Following the test, measures of the band members’ fertility were re-evaluated. The results? The band members’ sperm counts were unchanged. Hipsters 1, Science 0.

So, why does this all matter? My point is not to say that all indie music fans need to stop wearing their skinnies and bring back hammer pants — I certainly won’t be. I simply encourage readers to take a look around at the next show you’re out at, and take note of the trends around you. It is seemingly trivial things like the tightness of jeans that remind us of the potential societal impact of popular musicians. Whether they like it or not, so-called “rock stars” are, and always will be, at the forefront of fashion trends, supporting the creation of product lines that can profit millions for corporations of many sorts — some socially responsible, and others not. It all comes with the territory of being part of an American subculture.

– Joe Erbentraut, True Endeavors Communications and Public Relations Intern

This W(eek!) in Shows

Watch out Madison music fans, lots of shows to check out this week highlighting talent in smaller rooms. Catch them before they are too big to get cozy with!

Today Friday April 25


Genre: Bluegrass

“Slap your knee to these guys and you’ll be sore the next day.” – New York Press

Split Lip Rayfield- Truth and Lies

With THE JAVELINAS Friday 9:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon 268-1122 $12 adv – 21+ BUY TICKETS NOW!


Sunday April 27


Genre: Indie/ Folk Rock

“..a melodic hodgepodge of brass, rumbling drums, intricately plucked guitars, and Klausener’s plangent vocal melody do more than their parts to propel a charming, inspirational lyric. Elsewhere, the group avoids generic world-music traps, using dynamic shifts and evocative instrumentation to forward the narrative…” -Pitchfork

The Acorn- The Flood Pt.1

With special guests JOHN CRAIGIE + MARTY FINKEL Sunday 8:00 pm @ Café Montmartre 255-5900 $8 BUY TICKETS NOW!


Monday April 28


Genre: Rock

Lions create a blend of retro riffage, artful noise, melodic interludes, and revolutionary attitude with a live show that has been described as “furious” with “a full- frontal assault” that will leave you “half-deaf and disoriented.”

Lions- Metal Heavy Lady featured on the Guitar Hero 3 game

With DROIDS ATTACK and UNITED SONS OF TOIL Monday 8:30 pm @ The Annex 256-7750 $7 – 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!


Tuesday April 29


Genre: Pop

“The British band takes cues from recent dance-rock and post-punk revivalism as much as the early-’80s stuff that inspired the revival in the first place” -Onion AV Club

Foals- Balloons

2 Free Song Downloads Here

With WORRIER Tuesday – early show 7:00 pm @ High Noon Saloon 268-1122 $10 dos – 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!



Genre: Techno/ Rock/ Power Pop/ Indie/ Alternative

The Medic Droid

Free Song Download From The Medic Droid

Genuine sound that dances with ACM’s overwhelming sense of raucous energy and refusal to take themselves too seriously.

A Cursive Memory- Everything

Learn More About Both of These Bands or Enter to Win Tickets Here

With special guests SINGLE FILE and THE WHITE TIE AFFAIR Tuesday 6:30 pm (doors open 6:00 pm) @ Orpheum Stage Door 255-8755 $8 / $10 dos – all ages BUY TICKETS NOW ! Tickets also available at Strictly Discs


Thursday May 1


Genre: Americana/ Indie/ Acoustic

One stark, solo acoustic guitar builds into layered swan songs and raspy serenades that resonate with unassuming depth and candor.

Chris Pureka- Interview and Song Momentary Thief

Plus MARTHA BERNER special early start time Thursday 6:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon 268-1122 $10- 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!




Genre: Folk Rock/ Indie/ Pop

“Pete Francis (of Dispatch) presents a style combination of Funk, jazz, reggae, folk with musical influences of Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Pink Floyd and Miles Davis, which culminates into a sound that takes you on an amazing ride.” -CD Baby

Pete Francis- Shooting Star and the Ambulance

“Employing handclaps, sing-along choruses, and guitar solos with equal measure, the more intricate musical arrangements punctuate and add layers to Pond’s slow-burning guitar melodies.” -The Boston Globe

Matt Pond PA- Sunlight

With special guest DICK PRALL Thursday 9:00 pm @ High Noon Saloon 268-1122 $15 adv and dos – 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW !

Mad-Town Monday Music Tix (Free Free Free!)

Not excited about the beginning of the work week? Lets start it out then with a pair of free concert tix..feel better yet?


The Medic Droid is for those who are bored with genres and titles. Full of sassiness and attitude, this trio fuses dance music with indie rock power and punk rock DIY ethics, The Medic Droid have created their own scene.

the medic droid

“..with their first major record label release the Californian quartet (A Cursive Memory) exploded into the scene with catchy tunes that reminisce of Hellogoodbye’s rise to fame. Infectious keyboard and a pair of soft vocals lead this pop rock driven band.”

How A Cursive Memory Became Bandarazzi!

SPECIAL EARLY SHOW With guests SINGLE FILE and THE WHITE TIE AFFAIR Tuesday 6:30 pm (doors open 6:00 pm) @ Orpheum Stage Door 608.255.8755 $8 / $10 dos – all ages BUY TICKETS NOW! Tickets also available at Strictly Discs!

The 4th person to email with the subject line TMD & ACM Tix will win 2 guest list spots to this show.



black rebel motorcycle club

With special guests THE DUKE SPIRIT Saturday 9:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon 608- 268-1122 $16 adv / $18 dos – 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

Be the 5th person to email with the subject line “Win Rebel Tix” and you will receive 2 guest list spots to the show!