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Mustaches are the new black. I know, I've said it before about a wide variety of things (orange, Thai food, peacocks — the list is long and distinguished), but this time I really mean it. Think about it. They're cool, slimming and they go with everything. They can be formal or casual. They can be used for good or evil.
Always bet on mustache.
I've heard a lot of people describe 2011 as "the year of the rabbit." Balderdash. Poppycock, even. 2011: The Year of the Mustache.
I could do this all day.
Spearheading this mustache revolution are San Francisco soft rock ninjas Mustache Harbor.
What the world needs now is epic soft-rock classics, delivered in spectacular fashion by dudes wearing yachting gear, vintage blue blocker aviators, Hawaiian shirts and, most importantly, mustaches.
Thankfully, Mustache Harbor is knuckle deep in the Zeitgeist, mustachioed crusaders changing lives, making the world a better (hairier?) place, one "Toto" cover at a time.
Thursday night, they brought their yacht rock explosion to Harlow's Nightclub, and it was spectacular.
I am not prone to hyperbole, but they are without a doubt the single greatest cover band of all time.
They are also the second best cover band of all time. Third place goes to Super Diamond.
I arrived a few minutes after 9 p.m. and was greeted by a fellow wearing a T-shirt adorned with a big pair of sunglasses and, natch, a mustache (the scoundrel). I complimented him on his shirt and, assuming it was a Mustache Harbor shirt, asked him about the band.
He'd never heard of them. A friend of his had gotten him the shirt in Hawaii. He just loved the shirt and had worn it to the 7 p.m. comedy show preceding the concert. Like I said,Year of the Mustache.
A few minutes later, saddling up to the bar to grab my first PBR of the evening, I struck up a conversation with a mustachioed gentleman to my left.
"Did you get that in honor of the occasion, or is that a permanent fixture?"
"I grew it for charity, Mustaches for Kids. We've raised over $10,000."
He handed me a card. "Mustaches for Kids," it read. He had never heard of the band until a couple days earlier when a friend mentioned it to him. He was there out of mustache solidarity. Zeitgeist.
The opener, the Sean Tabor Band, came on at 9:45 p.m. It's no easy task opening up for the soft-rock assassins, but they did a bang-up job.
I would describe their music as bouncy Cali ska/surf party rock with a smattering of saccharine and a healthy dose of humor. They were a lot of fun. Among the highlights was the playful lament "Bottom of the Rock" and the easily sing-along-able "Let's Get" (drunk).
The eponymous lead singer was affably self-deprecating, making fun of his dance moves (or lack thereof) and engaging the audience throughout the set. "The next band, Mustache Harbor — if you have not seen them before, get ready for some shit," he said, proving to be prescient.
He teased the audience before his last song of the evening: "If you like singing, go ahead and sing along to this song. You've heard it before. If you haven't, you should probably be wearing a helmet.”
What can I say? I'm a sucker for a well-placed helmet jab. The song? A rollicking version of Tom Petty's "American Girl." If you haven't heard it, well, you know.
The STB finished up at 10:40 and the crowd prepared themselves for the main event.
And by "prepared themselves" I do mean strapped on their mustaches. There were a half dozen flats of fake mustaches floating around. I took one (The Scoundrel) with the caveat that I must wear it the entirety of the evening. It took about 30 seconds of wearing it on my upper lip to realize that, barring a drastic change, there was no way I would be wearing it for the remainder of the set break, let alone the evening. I went to the bathroom and, as it often does, inspiration struck.
Goodbye upper lip, hello forehead. The scoundrel makes for a fine unibrow, and it did so for the remainder.
The mustache mavens took the stage at 11 but remained behind the curtain for a prolonged sound-check as they worked out some kinks. As they worked on the sound, I couldn't help but notice a couple stage accoutrements they had set up.
On the two center-stage monitors, facing the crowd, were two giant, fuzzy mustaches. Technically, they are Carstaches, but for the evening they were Monitorstaches. The point is they are epic, fuzzy mustaches, a foot high and nearly three feet long. Hell, they're three inches deep! This ain't your grandmothers mustache (wait, what?). They are great for parties, weddings, funerals, awkward silences, really anything. I would drape myself in Carstaches were it socially acceptable. Full disclosure, I am friends with the inventor (mad genius?) of the Carstache, but that has no bearing on my enthusiasm for the product. He came up with quite possibly the most important invention of the 21st century (The Century of the Mustache). Fact. Kismet Zeitgeist.
At 11:17, the curtain dropped and the unmistakable opening chords of the Christopher Cross classic "Ride Like the Wind" filled the venue.
Unfortunately, the first three songs were marred by feedback that were handled during a brief instrumental interlude between "Nights on Broadway" and "Caribbean Queen." Take a moment to let that sink in.
You know how some shows, you're waiting for certain favorite songs to be played? You'll enjoy the whole set, but you're always thinking, "I really hope they play (such and such) song," until they finally play it and you are beside yourself with ecstasy.
Every song that Mustache Harbor plays is that song. Every single one.
The entire set is an exercise in ecstatic jubilation. It's almost too good.
Let’s take a quick look at Thursday nights set:
1. "Ride Like the Wind" – Christopher Cross
2. "Lido" – Boz Skaggs
3. "You Make My Dreams" – Hall & Oates (speaking of epic mustaches)
4. "Nights on Broadway" – The Bee Gees
5. "Caribbean Queen" – Billy Ocean
6. "I Keep Forgetting" – Michael McDonald
7. "Africa" – Toto (I honestly can't even tell you how awesome this was.)
8. "Love Isn't Always on Time" – Toto (Is Toto in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? ‘Cause they should be.)
9. "Go Your Own Way" – Fleetwood Mac
10. "Make a Wish Baby” – Ambrosia
11. "Rich Girl" – Hall & Oates
12. "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" – Rupert Holmes
13. "Evil Woman" – Electric Light Orchestra
14. "Brandy" – Looking Glass (Really? Looking Glass? Huh, learn something new every day.)
15."I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" – Hall to the Oates, man they are good.
16." Dancin’ in the Moonlight" – King Harvest (!)
17. "What a Fool Believes" – Doobies
18. "All Night Long" – Lionel
19. "All Out of Love" – Air Supply
20. "Come Sail Away" – Styx
Where's the low point? The bathroom break? The "I'm gonna go have a smoke" song? There isn't one (although I would accept "Evil Woman" as an answer).
And don't think these guys are just getting by on their phenomenal taste in music, sweet mustaches and impeccable fashion sense. They absolutely own these songs. I've seen Hall & Oates, and, to be honest with you, they're no Mustache Harbor. I mean, Oates doesn't even have a mustache anymore.
I've seen Styx before. Their "Come Sail Away" is no match for the Harbors.
Look at the set list again. These songs were meant to be played by dudes wearing yachting gear, vintage blue blocker aviators, Hawaiian shirts and, most importantly, mustaches. They were meant to be played by Mustache Harbor.
Mustache Harbor and The Sean Tabor Band will be playing next Friday, the 18th, at Slims in San Francisco. It is Sean Tabor's CD release party. Go.