Nightranger: Lost Weekend 

Thursday, May 27 2010

View more photos in Lina Lecaro's "Nightranger: She Wants Revenge, Roky Erickson's Ice Cream Social & H. Wood's Tea Room" slideshow.

A surreal shriek-fest for the cool kids (and we mean kids), a semisecret showcase from three of L.A.'s best (friend) bands and your humble after-dark habitué's first book-signing event. Even with the frustrating Lost finale (yeah, we're one of those), it was a very satisfying week.

Zombies, vampires, mad howls, cranked-up amps and the Fuck Yeah Fest guys — not your average romp at Chuck E. Cheese. But when Texas psych-soul crooner Roky Erickson brought his bizarre and amazing "after school" Ice Cream Social to the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts last Thursday (billed as a free jamboree "for the kids"), it brought out a bigger swarm of screaming youngsters than we've ever seen at the popular play place (which happens to be just up the street, on Colorado Boulevard).

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LINA LECARO - She Wants Revenge in the (Swing) house

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Of course, these weren't just any munchkins, but the offspring of some of the rockingest parental units in Los Angeles. Badass bassist Corey Parks and her son, Josh Homme and Brody Dalle with their little strawberry-haired shortcake, writer/burlesque babe Hope Urban with her daughter, food designer Claire Crespo and her cupcake cutie, our fellow L.A. Weekly scribe Jonny Whiteside (who, by the way, has a swingin' new soiree called the Messaround at Viva Cantina that any Erickson fan should definitely bop into) and many more tousled/tatted types and their tots, Nightranger included.

FYF shows usually yield free mixtapes, and the kiddies at this one got freebies too: books by the awesome hipster children's author Dallas Clayton and a cup of the creamy cold stuff. During his show, Erickson, with backing band Okkervil River, didn't do anything too out-there or inappropriate as some might have expected, but he sure didn't "play to the kids" as many bands do during daytime shows (i.e., Kidrockers). We take our tot to pretty much any family-friendly gig we can find and they're usually filled with rockin' versions of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," or an acoustic set of the band's material, or, at the very least, some decibel and tempo reduction. Ol' Roky put in a spirited performance, busting out gems like "Two-Headed Dog" and "Night of the Vampire," which we're guessing were just as loud and freaky as his grown-up gig at the Music Box the night before. They gave out earplugs for the little ones at the door, thankfully.SWEET REVENGE

The buzz behind Sweethead (featuring Homme's Queens of the Stone Age comrade Troy Van Leeuwen) has been harder to ignore than a toothache, but after Saturday, we're definitely one of the converted. Marrying QOTSA heaviness with more glammish sass, Sweethead's Blondie-like pop-flaired alchemy is a total rush. Plus, they're named after one of our favorite Bowie songs ever. Missed their Spaceland residency shows, but caught them Saturday at Swinghouse Studios, an old Nightranger haunt for a number of reasons, not least of which, some wild word-of-mouth gatherings over the years.

Last Saturday at the rehearsal space allowed us to kill three bands with one stone: the 'Head, Normandie and headliners She Wants Revenge, all of whom are pals with one another and yours truly. Normandie, like Sweethead, owes a lot to the allure of its frontwoman. Basically the band is The Start minus one, but as singer Aimee Echo told us before the set, it's a very different endeavor: darker, slightly less dancey, but equally rapturous.

Similarly intense: SWR's sweaty late set, which showed their sincerity and moody style to be intact. Justin Warfield's wickedly poetic lyrics and Adam 12's rhythmic nods to '80s bands like Joy Division and — as we learned Saturday — Psychedelic Furs, remain enigmatic some five years after they were the most talked-about L.A. band in the land. Those who didn't dig 'em before probably won't change their minds, but fans (and they have many, judging from the packed house Saturday) will die hard for the new stuff. Catch them with the Furs at The Wiltern June 23.

Adam 12 will be putting his hip-hop night AFEX on hiatus till the band finishes touring, and when it comes back, looking for a whole new locale. Temporary Spaces II, which the club called home, will be no more after June. The building will be demolished. A new incarnation of another club that had its moment at TS II, Ian Cripps and Kelly Cole's Thursday rock night, has moved inside h. wood's hidden Tea Room. Sleazy '70s glam, punk and classic rawk fueled this one when we popped by recently, and while it's an obvious offshoot of Diamond Dogs (which the guys did with Bryan Rabin last year and of which we were one of many co-hosts), it now has an intimate, speakeasy appeal that makes it more a secret gem than the dazzling rock that was Dogs. We see this one shining for a while, too.DIVE IN

Shameless self-promotion alert: If you saw the "Happy Hours" issue a couple of weeks ago, you got a sampling from our new tome, L.A.'s Best Dive Bars — Drinking & Diving in the City of Angels (LG Publishing), a collection of more than 100 of the city's most captivatingly crusty, character-filled cocktail caves. Last Friday, all the sketchy treks, drunk dude come-ons and merciless hangovers became worth it when we put pen to paperback and partied with pals to celebrate our enduring liver (and, however hokey it sounds, our life in nightlife) at the book signing during the first eve of the Weekly's L.A. Weekend. The Saban Theatre event also featured a booty/boobie fest from Devil's Playground and a photo exhibit by Kevin Scanlon. Missed it? Fret not. We invite you all to come and party with us once more, at our next and final (free) signing soiree, at Wacko/La Luz de Jesus Gallery on Thursday, June 10. Four words: There will be booze.

Reach the writer at llecaro@laweekly.com

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