Freak scene

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This article is about the subculture. For the song by Dinosaur Jr., see Freak Scene.

The freak scene was a term used by a slightly post-hippie and pre-punk style of bohemian subculture. It referred to overlaps between politicised pacifist post-hippies, generally non-political progressive rock fans, and non-political Psychedelic music and Psychedelia fans. The individuals moved between rock festivals, free festivals, happenings and alternative society gatherings of various kinds. The name comes, at least partly, from a tongue-in-cheek reference to the beat scene.

Members of the Weather Underground would even draft their manifesto and declaration of war on the U.S. state with the sentence: Freaks are revolutionaries and revolutionaries are freaks.[1]

Hair and clothes[edit]

The hairstyles were mostly long and unkempt but people were experimenting with other possibilities. Rock stars of the era such as David Bowie and Roxy Music were trying shorter styles and hair dye. Roy Wood of the pop group Wizzard had hair down to his knees with odd colours dyed in. These musical icons were influential. Shaven heads were seen occasionally but were not yet as common as they would become when punk began. There was a reluctance to make hair too short, for fear of looking like skinheads, who were considered by many to be violent hooligans. The clothing of the freaks used elements of roleplay such as headbands, cloaks, frock coats, and kaftans, suggesting either a romantic historical era or a distant region. These were combined with cheap, hardwearing clothes such as jeans and army surplus coats. The effect was to make a group of freaks look like a gathering of characters from a fantasy or science fiction novel. All of these appearances were intentional and enjoyed by the participants of the freak scene.[citation needed]

Music and culture[edit]

Freak scene music was an eclectic mixture based around progressive rock and experimentalism. There were crossover bands bridging rock and jazz, rock and folk, rock and sci-fi (space rock). BBC radio presenter John Peel presented a nightly show that featured the music. Love's 1967 album Forever Changes is a notable example of freak scene music.

The term freak appeared throughout the liner notes of the 1966 Mothers of Invention album, Freak Out!. In 1967, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band's album parodied the expression in the sleeve notes for the song "Cool Britannia", which said "Someone letta Freak-Out? What do you think Reader?" Another musical reference is in Joni Mitchell's 1971 song Carey: "A round for these freaks and these soldiers / A round for these friends of mine..." Ian Gillan of Deep Purple often referred to himself as a freak, such as in the song "Space Truckin'" (with the lyric "The Freaks said 'Man those cats could really swing'") and the song "No No No" (with the line "Looking at them all it feels good to be a freak"). Following the success of the 1978 smash hit "Le Freak" by Chic, the term enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence on the funk scene by the early 1980s, thanks to artists like Rick James, Whodini and Midnight Star. In 1981, Was (Not Was) released "Out Come the Freaks". The 1988 album Bug by Dinosaur Jr includes the song "Freak Scene".

J. R. R. Tolkien novels were big influences on lyrics of bands like the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin, which created interest in the novels among followers of the bands. The freak scene made inroads into the underground comix movement in the The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers by Gilbert Shelton in 1968.

Notable freak scene musicians[edit]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

Fred Davis, Laura Munoz (2011), "8. Heads and freaks: patterns and meanings of drug use among hippies", in Lee Rainwater, Deviance and Liberty: Social Problems and Public Policy, Aldine Transaction, pp. 88–95, ISBN 978-1-4128-1503-1 

External links[edit]