Beto O’Rourke put on the mask.
It was 2003. The stage: a low-slung platform in a dingy room, barely more than a step above the floor, backed by cheap drywall and a prefab ceiling panels.
The white cotton bodysuit clung to his lanky frame. The face was his but not his, an assumed identity. A sheep, tufts of hair framing his face at wild angles. His fellow band members: another sheep, a rabbit, a nun. Their masks an external acknowledgement of societies absurdities, animals on stage, playing punk music.
In 2019, the video resurfaces. Mother Jones finds it, asks the questions that no one will ask. Is that Beto O’Rourke in the onesie, wearing the face of a sheep? It is.
...O’Rourke and a few friends (including other ex-members of Foss) formed two other bands. One was a rock group called Fragile Gang. The other was a cover band called The Sheeps, which performed punk rock classics. Band members wore a variety of disguises on stage—most notably, tight onesies and sheep masks.
“Our persona was that we were a very famous band from New Zealand and we didn’t want people to know our true identities—that’s why we wore masks,” Ailbhe Cormack, the band’s bassist, tells Mother Jones. “I think people followed along with the mystery of it, but they knew who we were.”
But all not all acts of rebellion strike a chord. Some acts die out, as time moves on. So it was for Sheeps.
The Sheeps had a short run. The band played three shows around El Paso between 2003 and 2004, “just for a lark,” according to Cormack. The group never toured. At its final show, in 2004, at a local club called the T-Lounge, band members wore brown paper bags over their heads—because some members had lost their sheep masks.
Now, as then, O’Rourke stands tall. The eyes of the nation upon him. Wolves all around. Who will he be? Is he a sheep, following the safe centrist views that make him amenable to so many? Or will he follow the example of the songs he played, standing up in the face of institutions and individuals determined to harm his flock?
Now it is up to O’Rourke to show us that his intentions are true. That the wool is not being pulled over our country’s eyes. That all of his energy and dedication and optimism is more than a show.