Check out all the photos from Gridlock and Mountain Bar in the New Year's Nightranger slideshow.
The chuggin’ good cheer of the holidaze is gone and the New Year’s hangover (and the feeling of shame or disappointment with whatever you did that eve) lingers. Now you’ve got chilly nights in skimpy clubwear (if you’re single and aiming to hook up before Valentine’s Day) and a less than stellar set of engagements to look forward to before 2009 gets in full swing. Yep, it’s gonna take most of us some time to get into going out again, and though we’d like to bake like a couch potato and watch Nip/Tuck and Lost all winter, Nightranger is slowly starting to take to the nightly grind again, and so should you. From new spots to burgeoning local bands — and old faves’ new projects — to a night bigger than NYE, the Inauguration (yeah, it’s in D.C., but you can bet L.A. will be celebrating hard), this month will jam soon enough, even if Jan. 1 didn’t.
As expected, our first ’09 moments were filled with both revelry and revulsion. We broke a recent tradition of staying home on the most obnoxious night of the year, and went for broke, too, choosing to party with thousands of shit-faced and shivering revelers at one of the bigger NYE outdoor clusters: Gridlock at Paramount Studios. Freshly shorn and single Katy Perry (check out her ex, Gym Class Heroes Travis McCoy’s Friendsorenemies.com blog, for his kiss-off) did the count in a shimmering tutulike get-up, though we never did see the “rising star” promoted as L.A.’s answer to the ball drop. (And however cheesy that would’ve been, we think our mecca needs an equivalent at this point.) Perry did her hits “Hot & Cold” and “I Kissed A Girl,” of course, but her choice of cover tunes left much to be desired, a tune we dubbed overplayed classic rock DJ drivel last year (!): the Outfield’s “Your Love.” (It’s off her Ur So Gay EP, but was it also a message to McCoy?)
Thankfully, Gridlock’s DJs didn’t drop the ball sonically (our fave sets: old-school club king Cool-Whip and electro duo Guns n’ Bombs, who, by the way, have a new club at the Echo every Wednesday called No Culture), and local hip-hop/synth-heads LMFAO definitely pumped up the crowd with their campy flows and freaky ’fros before midnight. Laughing My Fucking Ass Off (we assume the usual acronym applies to their name) got ’80s stilo (neon and ugly shades) and spew jivey dance joints like “Li’l Hipster Girl” and “I’m In Miami, Bitch” (changed for the bash to “I’m in L.A., Bitch,” and there’s one for Vegas and “Diego,” too, natch). If you fancy the “Hollywood hip-hop” (apparently it’s a genre now) of Mickey Avalon or Shwayze, you will LOVE these guys, and despite the silliness of it all, Nightranger concedes very strong LIKE for both the boys’ beats and bodacious rhymes, especially when enjoyed in the right environment and inebriated state. We see big things for these spazzy lads in ’09.
As for the event itself, it lived up to the name, with crowd standstills in the faux streets of NYC (which started to smell like the real thing when drunkards lacking patience for the port-o-potty lines started whizzing between the “buildings”). We witnessed at least three brawls and four full-on face-to-the-floor falls (the requisite sparkly frocked femmes who OD’d on the bubbly and free absinthe in the VIP section), and while it was chaotic and loud and crowded and freakishly foggy and freezing that night, we actually dug it. Starting a new year with a few close friends might be optimal, but there’s something liberating and exciting about being part of a crowd, too, carousing with strangers and celebrating the possibilities of a fresh year in a really big way. The key is not to have big expectations about it, but that goes for every night, don’t it?
The weekend after the big countdown has (anti-)climaxed isn’t exactly one we’d have any kind of expectations about, but we did think this past Sunday in the city would be kinda dead. We were wrong. Jason Moore, who may be the most recognizable buyer at Amoeba Records (he’s got a groovy ’stached, biker look goin’ on) is also a bitchin’ musician, and his birthday party at Mountain Bar brought out one of the coolest musical crowds we’ve hung with in a while. L.A.’s soul-rawk stalwarts The Flash Express proved they still give a good ride, opening for Moore’s (fun)ky outfit High Society. In the crowd we spotted the expected Amoeba-heads and none other than Go-Go Jane Wiedlin and Celebrity Skin-ster Tim Ferris, separately (but, of course, they knew each other). Both have exciting new music projects taking flight in ’09. Wiedlin told Nightranger exclusively about her recently formed all-chick supergroup, Chelsea Girls, composed of herself and Corey Parks (Nashville Pussy), Sam Maloney (Hole), Allison Robertson (The Donnas) and Tuesdae (DJ diva). The band will do famous rock anthems and invite their equally famous friends onstage, and we fully expect it to kick Camp Freddy’s ass. Look for a Viper Room date in February. Ferris also has a new cover thing, a Klaus Nomi cover band to be exact, and he says the shows will be suitably outlandish and flamboyant. (If ya don’t know who the wild German singer was, Wiki him now.) There’ll be some gigs TBA in February as well. Though we begrudgingly left the Chinatown friend-fest for a Hollywood Boulevard hullabaloo later — the Sunday night club known as Camerata at Cinespace — we ended up having a shockingly awesome, booty-bumping blast with hundreds of electro kids and arty thrasher types, who obviously don’t need any warm-up time before plunging themselves into ’09’s nightlife abyss — and on a Sunday, too. Impressive and inspiring (even if we did have to hear that Outfield song again!).