Walking into the Silent Comedy show at San Diego’s Casbah on September 11th, you might have felt you’d stumbled onto the craft services table on set of a remake of Paper Moon. Every other guy in attendance looked like a particularly roguish Depression-era hobo or the piano player at a Chaplin film festival. A sampling of the look can be found in the video for the band’s 2007 song “Bones”, except these aren’t costumes—these dudes dress this way 24-7. To take advantage of sartorial similarities with opening acts Mississippi Man, Skyline Union and River City, the gig was christened “Mustache Mayhem”.
In fact, the guys in the Silent Comedy love facial hair so much that they’ve turned it into a way to finance their next CD. You too can be a patron of the arts if you sport a mustache (real or faux) and give a donation on the band’s website. Talk about music industry innovations in the tech age!
The band had reason to celebrate, having won a San Diego Music Award for Best Pop Group the night before. Frontman Joshua Zimmerman (aka J. John) displayed a newfound confidence and swagger that was palpable as the band launched in the song “Poison” with all the fervor of a tent revival meeting. There was no sign of the hellacious hangover that photographer Rich Cook said followed Thursday night’s totally unexpected win—but that might be due to the very liberal hair-of-the-dog flowing throughout the set.
Mississippi Man was the only non-San Diego band on the bill, and their sound, while certainly as sepia-toned as the rest, had the most modern flair, if your idea of modern is the 1960s. Sure, they look just as breadline-ready as their compatriots, but their music is decidedly more Brian Wilson than Al Jolson. And River City, playing in the back bar known as the Atari Lounge during breaks in the main stage sets, might have been the sleeper hit of the night. Their mustache ratio was strong (three out of five), and they rocked a Maid Rite washboard to boot!
September 11th is a time of somber reflection for most Americans. But the crowd at the Casbah that night got a welcome break from the cares of the day with the help of some great music, and some truly inspired facial hair.