The Make-Up Credit: Glen E. Friedman Credit: Glen E. Friedman

The wit of Ian Svenonius is something to which we’ve never quite been privy, a clever commentary between him and himself that’s probably brilliant despite being totally impenetrable to everyone else. (Have you read his book Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ’n’ Roll Group?) Sometimes you have no choice but to respect an artist’s commitment, even if you can’t totally parse their ambition. Lucky for us, we’ve been privileged to watch Svenonius live his own legend for three decades, dressed to the nines and commanding stages with a panache that he’d probably be the first to say is borrowed from 60s soul front men. Though he first emerged in the late 80s as front man of D.C. punk band Nation of Ulysses, Svenonius is perhaps most famous for his stint leading the Make-Up, which formed in 1995. Though they’ve played a handful of reunion shows since breaking up in 2000, Svenonius recently resurrected that posse, which in the late 90s rethought what it meant to be an underground, politically charged punk band. The Make-Up’s stripped-clean, lo-fi sound leans hard into gospel and soul, preaches much more than it snarls, and ultimately paved a path for a glut of early-2000s imitators who aimed to smash the state in three-piece suits. Today their records, such as 1997’s Sound Verite and 1999’s Save Yourself (both released on K), sound modern, thanks in part to Svenonius’s own resilience. The Make-Up will hold up live because he won’t let his vintage vision—and, by proxy, his vision of the band—die. And we should all feel blessed that he’s keeping on, regardless of the project, new or old.   v