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Meet Fragile Rock: Almost Definitely The World's First Puppet Emo Band

Meet Fragile Rock.
Roy Moore
Courtesy of the artist
Meet Fragile Rock.

February isn't exactly the best month, what with all the cold weather, limited daylight, copious awards shows, New England Patriots Super Bowl victories, and Valentine's Day. So you'd be forgiven for thinking, "The only thing that could truly articulate my pain is a band in which puppets sport eyeliner and sing a song called "I Am Sad And So Am I."

For those who wish Muppets moped more, meet Fragile Rock, which — while it's best not to make definitive statements that can't be proven — is almost certainly the world's first puppet-led emo band. Based in Austin, Fragile Rock is a sort of rock/performance-art troupe that fuses a love of puppeteering with an appreciation for depressing music (plus its very own band motto, "Stay Felt").

Founded by comedian Brently Heilbron as a way of powering through the aftermath of a divorce (and an accompanying urge to write sad songs), Fragile Rock also employs the puppet-making services of Austin-based actor Shaun Branigan, as well as a backing band and a group of puppeteers to bring Heilbron's vision to life. even provides a backstory on the puppets' complex web of interpersonal relationships — which, to flesh out the live shows, necessitate between-song onstage therapy sessions.

Amazingly, global superstardom has eluded Fragile Rock thus far, though it's not for lack of trying; your day will almost certainly be vastly improved by Heilbron's 2016 account of a disastrous America's Got Talent audition. The group takes another tear-streaked swipe at the brass ring next month, when it returns to SXSW.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)