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2nd annual Moustache Party @ La Sala Rossa, Jan. 30

Posted by Carolyn / January 31, 2009

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Facial hair was out in full force last night at La Sala Rossa’s second annual Moustache Party, a wonderfully absurd celebration of the gloriously anachronistic upper lip accessory known as the moustache. Both the musicians and members of the crowd proudly donned nearly all conceivable variations of the moustache, from the walrus to the handlebar to the Hitler. I even spotted a full-bodied Nietzsche ‘stache by the bar, and competition was steep for the best real and best fake moustache prizes. Lead vocalist of The Unsettlers' Ben Brandes took the stage rocking a tightly-curled and upturned Salvador Dali-style stache, complementing the audience on their "upper lip accoutrements" and turning Sala Rossa into a saloon for a night of nineteenth-century nostalgia.


Montreal-based artistic funk trio OKgiraffe, a group who describes themselves as “urban gypsy soul,” organized the evening and performed songs from their recently released self-titled debut to an enthusiastic crowd. Donning moustaches, of course, the group began with the catchy single “Heaven Only Knows” and concluded with the enchanting melody of “Old Town,” accompanied by Brandes on the baby piano. These incredible live performers were hindered only by vocalist Rosa Smedley’s large furry moustache, which forced her to stop and turn up the mic because it was infringing on her ability to project. The trio featured an instrumental rotation of vocals, upright bass, guitar, drums, trumpet, and accordion. Reminiscent of Gogol Bordello, the group’s exhibits eclectic musical influences ranging from funk to folk to hip hop. Having played with such acts as Mark Berube and the Patriotic Few, The Winks, and Winter Gloves, OKgiraffe has been garnering quite a buzz across Canada and is a definite band to look out for in 2009. In keeping with the nonsensical mood of the night, someone in a giraffe suit and a girl sporting a fedora and giant red moustache danced across the stage.

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Following OKgiraffe were The Unsettlers, a nine-piece cabaret folk band—complete with a horn section, accordion, clarinet, bass foot organ, keyboard, trash can drums, guitar, and two backup vocalists— whose performance proved that the attention they’ve been recently getting in the Montreal music scene is well-deserved. These incredible performers possess a uniquely Klezmer-esque, antiquated sound that's unlike anything else out there today. Within minutes of taking the stage with their fast-paced, polka-influenced song “Jerome,” the crowd was on their feet and dancing. The Unsettlers have appeared at Pop Montreal, the Fringe Festival, and myriad venues all over the city, paying testament to the fact that these troubadours are best experienced in live venue.

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Opening acts included talented local singer/songwriter Steve Broccoli–recognizable by his handlebar moustache and safari hat–and Bad Uncle, who got the crowd dancing with his up-tempo Beirut-esque accordion jams. The entire lineup had a very Klezmer influence, which kept the audience's energy level high and complemented the decidedly steampunk theme of the evening.

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The event owes its second year of success to both the strength of the lineup and the amusement of getting to wear such an inherently silly form of facial hair. Judging from how much fun the crowd was having, perhaps the old English proverb, “A man without a moustache is like a cup of tea without sugar,” still applies in 2009. Moustached or otherwise, OKgiraffe and The Unsettlers are two progressive Montreal bands to keep an ear out for.

Photos by Niki Hyde
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Discussion

24 Comments

Olivier / January 31, 2009 at 03:25 pm
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One hell of a first review. I can almost taste the moustaches.
Emmanuel / January 31, 2009 at 03:46 pm
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Superbe compte rendu. J'ai toujours dit qu'il n'y a rien de plus rock star qu'une belle moustache!
Jer / January 31, 2009 at 04:45 pm
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Great post and great pics. I coulda use a few more moustaches though.

Welcome to the team you two.
Leander / February 1, 2009 at 06:26 pm
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What a cool party and what superb music. We really had a blast. Until next year.
UGG??????????? / February 27, 2014 at 06:19 pm
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golu dolls / February 5, 2019 at 02:02 am
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golu dolls / March 24, 2019 at 11:25 pm
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