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Keeping Up With the Times 

Wednesday, Oct 7 2009
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View more photos in Lina Lecaro's "Nightranger: Moscow Disco, Kittens and Catfights" slideshow.

KITTENS AND GLITZ
Staying afloat amid the treacherous waters of L.A. nightlife has always been a challenge for promoters, but sustaining the excitement of the first few magical nights is, it seems, tougher than ever. Those who’ve managed to endure trends, fickle patrons, behind-the-scenes party politics and the economic downturn have a real reason to revel, and our favorites seem to be doin’ a lot of it lately. Hang the DJs marked its sexy seis anos last weekend with a fashion show and a Hercules and Love Affair DJ set downtown, and the boys from Mustache Mondays have a whole month planned for their two-year coming up, including live performances by The Vixenz (this Mon., Oct. 12) and Maluca (Oct. 19), and We Are the World’s record-release show (Oct. 26). If you’re reading this on Thurs., Oct. 8, don’t miss Wig Out!’s four-year festivities tonight, featuring 20 cabaret performances and live music from The Unstoppabros (Lonnie Marshall and Angelo Moore’s new project) at Bordello. If it’s anything like the picnic Wig Out!’s Jean Natalia had at Barnsdall Park recently, it will be a beautiful tangle of fab faux-tressed and dressed. We’ve got the picnic pics online this week to prove it too.

The aforementioned parties are still around thanks to amiable hosts with a vision and the ability to evolve while staying true to it. The same goes for Club Moscow, the exuberant live-music and dance weekly thrown by cutie clubster Keith Wilson at Boardner’s. The Mos’ marked its five-year milestone a couple of weeks ago with dance-y prancesters including The Robotanists, Vanaprasta and Golden Years, all of whom, not surprisingly, had shining, shimmy-worthy moments. We always seem to discover some comely new music-makers here. Still, no matter how good the bands who play the outdoor stage every Wednesday happen to be, Moscow is most captivating inside, on the dance floor. Here you’ll find humpy nymphs in skinny jeans, and nubile, miniskirted shagsters shaking it with a zeal that only “kids” still possess. Yes, Moscow is “over 18” and yes, we’ve felt like a “cougar” (even though we hate that word and have never been on the prowl) on occasion here, but looking around, the crowd wasn’t really as pubescent as we’d remembered from our last visit.

click to enlarge LINA LECARO - Drew Barrymore whips the L.A. .Derby Dolls crowd into a frenzy.
  • Lina Lecaro
  • Drew Barrymore whips the L.A. .Derby Dolls crowd into a frenzy.

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After five years, could Moscow’s minions be growing up? If so, it’s not a bad thing. Both booking and DJ-wise, this one remains electric no matter how long or short in the tooth or averse to the photo booth one may be (of course, there was one on hand to capture all the snippy haircuts).

GIDDY UP
With the Weekly’s Best of L.A. issue offering a little break last week, Nightranger took the opportunity to immerse herself in some different environs, some a bit out of our comfort zone. Attending The Country Music Hall of Fame’s “All for the Hall” Los Angeles benefit at Club Nokia was definitely a genre leap. Or was it? The event featured Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Vince Gill and Melissa Etheridge performing in a “guitar pull” format, i.e., a jammy roundtable in which each artist took his/her turn in the singing and strumming spotlight. With everything from Gram Parsons to Janis Joplin represented in song, not to mention the likes of American Idol’s Kara DioGuardi, Michael McDonald and Chris Isaak (who hosted) at the mic, it ended up going way beyond a typical twang thang. It was about heartfelt songwriting and skillful story-telling, ultimately. When it comes to raw emotion, country can be as bold and expressive as rock. As we saw at Nokia, the clothing can be too. There was an auction to raise money for the Hall, which included, most notably, a glitzy peacock sequined coat from designer Manuel, whose sparkly suits have graced the backs of country and rock icons alike, including Parsons (the famed Marijuana leaf/pills suit), the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Jack White and the King himself.

CATWALKS AND CAT FIGHTS
Speaking of glitz, the runway spectacle of Macy’s Passport, a megafashion production at Barker Hangar, meshing philanthropic star power (a surprisingly composed Sharon Stone and an eloquent, wheelchaired Elizabeth Taylor, there to raise money for HIV research), live, female-powered rock music (A Fine Frenzy, Chelsea Girls) and mall-fave clothing lines (Harajuku Lovers, Calvin Klein, Rachel Roy), was downright dizzying a couple weeks ago. The action-packed runway also saw Cirque du Soleil–type performance, operatic interludes and half-naked models parading under rain showers and with snakes à la Britney Spears. Not sure about the use of “Come Together” as Macy’s new theme song, but the tune did represent the audacious hodgepodge of styles and sounds at the show. The schmaltzy TV commercials are another story.

Drew Barrymore’s Cover Girl ads are all over the tube, but the gal still has cred, something her latest, Whip It!, surely won’t bruise . unlike her body. Her directorial debut delves into the rough-and-tumble world of roller derby, and was inspired by a book from Shauna Cross, a former L.A. Derby Doll. The Dolls HQ in Filipinotown was the site for a pre-premiere party last week, featuring a Q&A with the cast including Barrymore, Ellen Page (who’s cute as a button in person — but, we gotta say it, she’s too munchkin-y small to be a real derby gal), Juliette Lewis, Eve and Har Mar Superstar. Page’s love interest in the film, rocker Landon Pigg, was also on hand, and his band also played in between the bouts. The lanky-hot singer is no oinker, obviously, and he’s got some real songwriting chops too (he wrote the TV-commercial classic “Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop”. look it up on YouTube). Lucky boy, his feature debut and latest release came out the same week. The film may have gotten whipped by the competition in theaters, but we see it enjoying a long life on cable, and hopefully elevating the profile of derby as a competitive sport. Oh, and Barrymore did a good job on the soundtrack too, which features The Raveonettes, Peaches, Cut Chemist, Squeak E. Clean and two from Har Mar (one with Little Joy, the band named after the Echo Park hipster dive and featuring her ex Fabricio Moretti). One question, though: Where’s the DEVO?

Reach the writer at llecaro@laweekly.com

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