View more photos in the "Nightranger: Stinkers and Divas, Blink 182 and Weezer" slideshow.
From old-school rap haps and cover song-a-longs to all-girl groovin' and make-believe block parties, Nightranger was immersed in thematic atmospheres this week. Parties with a very particular premise can be tricky, but as this week’s column proves, as long as a gathering stays true to its conceptual spirit (apt amusements don’t hurt either), it can triumph in an after-dark setting. DJ Paul V’s The Cover Up, an all-covers night, is a fine example. First of all, Vmight be the king of L.A. theme nights, what with his long-running Dragstrip 66 and its different queen-dream dress codes, and his mash-up-only Bootie L.A. bash. As for material, if you think about it, you could do a whole weekly gathering on Beatles or Stones covers alone. V mixes both hits and obscurities, and takes the idea to a crazy-cool level with minisets he calls “Daisy Chains” (covers that connect artists to each other). Example: Bob Dylan’s take on “House of the Rising Sun” into the Byrds’ version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” into Roxy Music’s “Eight Miles High,” ending with the Scissor Sisters doin’ “Do the Strand.” If you’ve never been to Stinkers on Sunset, where the night is held, pop in and take a whiff. The bar’s wacky truck-stop-meets-skunk shrine interior is trash-tastic. The black-and-white critters are everywhere, and when things get really rowdy the bartenders blow a trucker horn that simultaneously spews a fine mist out of skunk butts that surround from above. One of those things you kinda have to see — and smell — for yourself. Since we got there early, we practically had to beg the bartender to do it, but V says they now get a honkin’ every time he starts a new daisy chain. From the minds behind similarly Disneyland-ish drinker holes Bigfoot Lodge and Saints & Sinners — Stinkers might have its share of haters in the hood (it’s too kitchsy/not divey enough, say S’Lakers on Yelp), but with DJs like V on Thursdays and our pals Eden and Jimmy James spinning on “Space Truckin” Monday nights, we say the vibe doesn’t reek, it rocks.
CALLING ADAM 12
Less frills, but equally chill, Temporary Spaces at the once-sketchy corner of Fountain and Normandie continues to thrive with some of the best touring and local DJs around. Big Saturdays from TS tsar Sean Patrick always seems to live up to its name,and DJ Skeet Skeet’sMonday party there has been pure mayhem. Lately, Thursdays are hoppin’ too, thanks to Adam 12, longtime L.A. turntablist and one half of She Wants Revenge. Adam, who recently opened AFEX, has a very specific musical thrust: hip-hop and breaks circa ’83 to ’95. Those who know him only from SWR’s darkly seductive soundscapes might be surprised, but anyone who’s heard 12 out on the club circuit over the years knows he’s as versatile as it gets, and he’s obviously got a special love for the rhymers . just not the blingy, cheesy new Hollywood kind. (From the invite, which touts a lengthy list of what not to expect at the club: “There will be no: DJs that started spinning on Serato; brightly colored hoodies; Eminem; songs with auto-tune; bottle service with sparklers; 808s and Heartbreaks— just 808s; hipsters that look like they just woke up.”) Well, we might have seen a few of that last one, but this party definitely is bullshit-free and the beats, which admittedly could have been a little more familiar for our tastes, were both deep and dope enough to make us move regardless. Other touches that make this theme night tight: free Philly blunts and the bar specialty, Old English 40-ouncers in brown-paper bags. Expect Adam’s mixmaster pals to stop in for guest appearances often: DJ AM was in the house when we hung, and he’s got DJ Homicide this Thursday (5/21) and DJ Nu-Mark the next (5/28).
KICKS AND CHICKS
Last Thursday, DJ AM joined Travis Barker onstage for T-Mobile Sidekick LX’s “Central Square”–themedbash on Paramount Studios’ oft-used city-streets lot, and while the duo — known as TRV$DJ-AM — didn’t impress (they turned in practically the exact same set we heard at Coachella), Barker did offer a buzz-worthy performance immediately afterward. For the first time since they split four years ago, Barker’s Blink 182 bandmates joined him onstage for a surprise miniset. We’ve never been fans of Blink’s potty-humored pop-punking, but we gotta give it up; after the tempestuousness and tragedy in their lives the past few years, the formerly contentious trio now seem to have a giddier chemistry than ever.
Weezer (who’ll be touring with Blink this summer) offered more nuanced hooks and ironic hits, however. We missed ’em at the KROQ Weenie Roast (too friggin’ far!), but we did get to see ’em test-drive the awesome cover/mash-up they planned for it: MGMT’s “Kids” into Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” (Paul V. could surely rock this one at all of his clubs!)
Speaking of Gaga, we decided to serve up our own thematic schematic at Hang the DJs deck-divas-only event Saturday at the Echoplex, playing femme-driven jams from MIA, Robyn, the Pretenders, Joan Jett and Lady G. on the patio. Scarlett Casanova’s beauty-and-the-beat bash boasted a live set from the band Weave, plus Ana Calderon, Love Grenades’ Liz Wight, DJ Dia,and the babes from Booby Trap,to name a few. It felt like a sleep-over minus the PJs. By the way, Nightranger might not be a “real” DJ like most of the dames on the bill, but we do know how to have fun with a fader switch!