Soul singer and multi-instrumentalist Raphael Saadiq and his gifted guitarist/backup singer, Rob Bacon, took the red-eye from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., and landed early this morning, when it was still dark out. When they stepped off the plane, they were decked out in fitted black suits with white shirts and thin black ties. They were the very definition of cool.
When they showed up at NPR later to give a Tiny Desk Concert (which we'll post later), a number of people in the office commented about how good they looked, in addition to how amazing they sounded. I spoke with Rob Bacon about it after the performance, and he said he and Saadiq take their jobs "very seriously" and always dress up before taking a flight anywhere or giving a performance. It's an idea they got from James Brown; Bacon said that James Brown required all of his band members to dress up. If they were staying at a hotel and someone needed to run down to the lobby to get a newspaper or something, they had to be in their best suit. If they weren't, Bacon said, they were fined.
Raphael Saadiq (front) and Rob Bacon perform at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen. (photo by Katie Hayes)
I think this sort of professionalism makes a huge difference. Sure, Raphael Saadiq and Rob Bacon are a couple of astonishing musicians who would have had our full attention anyway. But those suits made them really pop.
What do you think? Does what a band wears affect the way you see it? Does your perception of an artist change in any way when he's in a suit as opposed to raggedy jeans and a T-shirt?