Rock with a twist

Jay Della Valle is celebrating the mustache in his 10-city rock tour. Jay Della Valle is celebrating the mustache in his 10-city rock tour.
April 7, 2009
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Things often get pretty hairy for Jay Della Valle. In 2004, the New Yorker grew a mustache and was shocked by people's reactions: "You look like a child molester." "A '70s porn star." "A middle-age dad." And those were just the comments from his parents and girlfriend.

Since then, mustaches have become a fascination for Della Valle, 29. He started organizing mustache-related parties, from rock shows to charity events. In 2007, he made a film called "The Glorius Mustache Challenge," an hourlong documentary with animation and interviews featuring dudes under age 30. (Check out the trailer at

Tomorrow night he brings Stache Bash 2009, a 10-city rock tour, to the Middle East Upstairs. Three bands - Della Valle (named after its frontman, obviously), the Flavor Savers, and Mustache! - are only half the entertainment. A mustache contest will get the audience involved, too.

We rang up Della Valle last week to debate that everlasting question: to shave or not to shave?


Q. So what happens at a Stache Bash?

A. In addition to the music, we do a mustache contest. Depending on the turnout, sometimes not a lot of guys show up with real mustaches. In an ideal situation, though, we scout out the audience and hand out sashes or pins and tell people, "We want you to be a finalist for creepiest mustache. Later on when we have the contest, make sure you come up when we call you." In between that, we do some music sets and evangelize about the mustache. Then we have the contest and let the audience decide the winner by applause.

Q. What kind of relationship has the mustache had with rock music?

A. I always say that it's not the mustache that makes the man - it's the man that makes the mustache. So when you've got a frontman making the mustache, like Freddie Mercury or Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello, people love to talk about their mustaches, as if their mustache is a badge of honor or a turbo boost to their self-image.

Q. What do tomorrow night's bands have in common aside from facial hair?

A. All the bands involved are somehow connected to the mustache concept. Boston is going to be ridiculous because the bands I have on board build their whole image on the sense of humor that a mustache communicates. You don't even have to know their music to have a good time. Fueled by the spirit of the 'stache, the bands are just going to take down the house.

STACHE BASH 2009 At the Middle East Upstairs

at 9 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets are $10