The relationship between masks and music goes way back. With their exaggerated expressions and facial features, masks made of linen, cork, and wood played a pivotal role in ancient Greek theater, allowing actors to play more than one character (including monsters, gods, and demigods) while dissuading audience members from speculating about a performer’s social status, age, or gender.
Just as they were an essential component in the orgiastic cult of Dionysus, masks continue to play an important role in contemporary music (particularly electronic acts.) In fact, masks are experiencing something of a Renaissance. A 2012 article published in The Washington Post argues that concealing one’s identity is the “new” cool, now that Facebook has made oversharing obligatory and privacy nearly impossible. “As the hyper-connectivity of social media pulls our planet into a tighter huddle … a growing number of vanguard pop artists [flirt] with the idea of anonymity. They often wear masks. Some conceal their names.” In this regard, the man in the Oyster Mask is a product of the times.
Avant-garde musical pranksters The Residents have been performing in eyeball masks, top hats, and tuxedos since 1974. Swedish brother-sister duo The Knife always went the extra mile to conceal its identity with creepy disguises. Insane Clown Posse, Clinic, Deadmau5, Daft Punk (pictured), Ghost B.C., and Slipknot all became famous while keeping their faces hidden.
At the very least, the man in the Oyster Mask is in some very good company.