View more photos in Lina Lecaro's "Nightranger: Nightlife Before Christmas" slideshow.
Is your noggin nogged out? Got a waistline that’s a li’l too Santa-stout and a wallet that’s anything but? Nightranger feels you. Though we usually cheer the holidays, we’ve been fighting our inner Scrooge this year. If we never see another ugly Christmas sweater (the seasonal equivalent to ironic hipster neon in the clubs), we’d be very merry indeed. And while the last couple of weeks were about overindulging, overspending and over- and underdressing (thanks to schizo weather), some joyous jams and end-of-an-era happenings in L.A. could not be missed.
KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas show at the Gibson Amphitheatre two weeks ago should’ve put us in the spirit, especially since we had access to the VIP area and the Very Very Green Room Lounge. But Sunday’s more eccentric lineup with Metric, Phoenix and Muse (versus Saturday’s metal-ish one) might have been too jolly. The backstage party was packed, and after standing in lines all day at the mall, who wants to do the same for a drink at a concert? Rodney Bingenheimer, who introduced Metric at the Gibson and X at the Wiltern (dedicating the show to the late Brendan Mullen) a week later, threw the most roq-in gathering: his birthday party at — where else? — Canter’s. Singer Ruby Freidman, club promoter Jason Lavitt and requisite retro hotties nibbled deli delights, and some even adhered to Rodney’s requested theme — one of his favorite clothing items since his English disco days — tube tops! Though RB assured us it would be warm in the restaurant due to a broken AC, we weren’t gonna don summer groupie gear in December. Daring/baring girl rockers Giddle Partridge and India Dupre did, and looked hotter than our matzo ball soup, and the latkes we had for Hanukkah, too.
Our pal Partridge (resisting a “pear tree” reference here) made the scene to support another music legend last week, experimental noise fave Boyd Rice at Vacation Vinyl, signing his latest tome, NO, and their recorded duet on pink heart-shaped vinyl. Friends and fans were on hand including industrial music percussionist/pioneer Z’ev and artist Coop, who did the cover art on Rice’s re-release of the classic Hatesville, a Grinchy-good gift idea! Find all of Rice’s subversive merch at boydrice.com.
SUGAR AND ICE
Ghetto Gloss Gallery hosted a grueling Yuletide schedule for its Twelve Days of Christmas series: a dozen consecutive, different-themed art openings, beginning with the joint work of artist/model Tony Ward and actor/singer Daniel Rivas, and ending with a fanciful strawberry shortcake doughnut reception for the Small World–like invasion of collectible Japanese Pullip Dolls (see our online slide show for adorable pics of the wide-eyed, goth/Lolita-style cuties). The Melrose space was jingling nonstop, and Ghetto’s Fiora Boes sealed her reign as L.A.’s giving-est gallery owner with this one. Heck she didn’t even stop at 12 exhibits. The eve after the Pullip party, she hosted an extra one to grow on, Soulsticle, art by and for the Midnight Ridaaz biking underground. She’s also behind the Silver Lake Art, Craft and Vintage Fair, which will be back Jan. 31 at the Glendale Boulevard Citibank lot.
More seasonal childhood reversion was had at Pershing Square, where we caught dance rockers Little Red Radio closing out the Thursday night series “Rock Around the Rink,” for skaters of all ages last week. Though singer Lara Anderson let slip a couple of bad words during the performance (wouldn’t have noticed if she hadn’t apologized to her dad in the crowd), the band’s seamless meld of new wave, electro and sassy/sultry rap was a really nice fit for the locale, especially, the uber-catchy, frothily suggestive cut, “(Ride That) Zamboni.” See LRR opening for Har Mar Superstar at Spaceland on Jan. 20, and check the L.A. Parks Web site (laparks.org) for remaining nights of beats and blades at the Square, including the M-80s (Jan. 8) and Le Switch (Jan. 13).
We might have missed the Xmas-themed Tweetcrawl on the Strip Friday, but we got the climax of it at The Roxy, where Camp Freddy finished off its monthlong residency with a tribute to the ’90s and a revolving door of powerful guest vocalists. Let’s call a spade tattoo a spade tattoo, shall we? Freddy are campy, even a bit cheesy at times. Dave Navarro and his ever-shirtless self, the Mark McGrath appearances (due to the era covered Friday, we actually had to endure “Fly”), and the rest of the 40-something band are talented and obviously well-connected, but sometimes this supergroup seems like more of a superego spectacle. Still, we’ve got nothing bad to say about Friday’s show. Travis Barker was little-drummer-boy-meets-Energizer-Bunny, slamming nonstop through the whole set, and the selections were pretty much a perfect rep of the grungy decade: Nirvana, Alice in Chains (with Jerry Cantrell on ax), STP, Soundgarden and, of course, Jane’s Addiction. Other guests included a bored-looking Steve Jones, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor (put ... the ... mask ... back ... on), a surprisingly awesome Paulie Z (of IFC’s Z-Rock, the poor man’s Flight of Conchords) and Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, who blew away everyone before him with forehead vein–busting versions of Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and Live’s “I Alone.” We’ll admit it: However cocky they may be, we’d pop a tent for Freddy again.
Finally, we end our last column of ’09 with two very fond and funky farewells to a pair of legendary parties: Club Firecracker and The Rootdown, both of which said “adios” last week. The clubs ran for 11 and 12 years respectively, and each ruled the decade in Los Angeles when it came to authentic old-school hip-hop and soul sounds, alternatives to the blingers and bangers that typified mainstream rap, and the Hollywood club scene in general. At the Rootdown wrap-up Thursday at El Cid, the Breakestra broke it down like James Brown. The place was wet with sweat. Apparently it hadn’t been such lately, though, and co-host Loslito blamed both the recession and the social-networking promo deluge when we shared some beers at the bar. Thankfully, the Cracker crew promises “new things” soon and Root’s Web site says it’s “got something new in 2010 that’ll sho’ nuff be worth the wait.”
Look for retrospective wrap-ups on closings, openings, trends, and all of oh-nine’s nightlife naughtiness here, in the next two weeks.