View more photos in Lina Lecaro's slideshow, "Nightranger: Pool Parties, Lady Ga Ga Lookalikes, Does It Offend You Yeah? and More."
Pool parties, outdoor music, food trucks, skimpy frocks — it's been an action-packed summer, and August is just getting into full swing wingding-wise. Those who didn't make the trek to Chicago for Lollapalooza still had two fun-in-the-sun events to choose from (the U.S. Open of Surfing & Concert in O.C. and Hard Summer Music Fest downtown), but for Nightranger, happenings surrounding these big events offered their own, more special (and chill) thrills.
Corporately speaking, Nike, Converse and Hurley are one and the same, but Hurley is a "wholly owned, independently run subsidiary of Nike," which seems to have helped it retain its alternative feel and artistic expression. All three brands were part of the weekend's surfing, skating and music event on Huntington Beach Pier this past weekend (Weezer, Cold War Kids, Soft Pack, Hot Hot Heat, Cobra Starship, Street Drum Corps), but Hurley also held a pretty snazzy pre-competition bash at its "compound" in Costa Mesa, complete with a brigade of grub trucks, a skating and art exhibition, and a live performance by Does It Offend You Yeah?
The U.K. electro-punk band, who've been busy the past year working on a new album, proved they're still as buoyant and infectious as they were during their sweaty Coachella '08 appearance, inciting countless multicolored heads in the crowd to stomp the stage repeatedly, no matter how many times security shooed them off.
Hey, Bud, Let's Party!
We were prepared for the possibility that Sean Penn might be shooing us and our Nikon off at the soiree later. The notoriously camera-shy actor was hanging out, since his Waves for Water organization (which brings water filters to the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti) does work with Hurley, and though we were hopeful for a snap and maybe even a quick chat, the original bad boy was unfortunately too elusive for us, ducking out before a potential photo op with artist Dalek, aka James Marshall, whose work was featured in Hurley's )( Space, the compound's gallery.
Dalek was more than happy to talk about his work, though. The painter's vibrant, futuristic, geometrical designs and "space monkey" characters have become world-renowned and his work with Hurley on everything from board shorts to store interiors is recognizable to both art fans and nonfans alike. His latest, an intricate, diamond-shape-filled design that took up two entire walls, was striking on its own, but the interactive part of the presentation took it to a whole new, visually evolving level. With help from two lab coat–garbed assistants armed with Plexiglas squares, X-Actos and rulers, patrons were invited to cut out their own piece (for sale by the foot) and have it framed right there.
"It takes away from the preciousness of the art," Dalek admitted, as a big 4x4 chunk of his mural was sliced behind him, interestingly, not even following the obvious lines of the piece. "It helps me see how different people interpret the work." After all the cuts, an anarchic scattering of remnants remained, a mix that definitely lived up to the exhibit's title: "Chaos on the Edge of Reason."
The Beach Is Back
Speaking of lines, the deco accents seen at the Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica are really a must-see for fans of the era's architecture. After its $30 million renovation a year ago, the retro feel remains, but with a very au courant rock & roll twist, transforming the place and its poolside bar and cabanas into a hot spot both day and night. Once a month on Sundays, owner Tamie Adaya hosts her Onyx Pool Party, attracting a who's who of music and entertainment luminaries. Adaya also owns So Sweet Records (and has a brand-new label, Crown Jewels, being launched with a release from U.K. DJ/producer Doorly next month), so her fashionable fetes always have a unique mix of attendees (Die Antwoord stayed there and partied after their El Rey show last month, for example).
Last Sunday, the guest list included Mishka Clothing's Greg Rivera, Dubstep DJ Caspa and his MC Rod Azlan, Fruition clothing owner/stylist Sammy Jo Alonso (MIA, Kanye West), street artists Kevin Casey and Lizzy Epstein (aka Anchor Cult), DJ Valida Carroll (who just scored an on-air gig at KCRW), singer Diamond Z and DJ Prxy, fresh off his Hard Summer fest set the night before. It was Nightranger's birthday weekend, so we stayed (where else?) in the Rock 'n' Roll Suite, a room whose décor Adaya calls "coke-deco," complete with leather-studded bed, glossy red seating, a shower big enough for six, and tons of mirrors. The room also happens to be adjacent to the rooftop bar, and both were unveiled earlier this year. The downstairs restaurant, by the way, is run by Marc Smith, owner of Three Clubs in Hollywood, and food from the eatery is spotlighted during the hotel's Ditch Day Fridays, another poolside shindig featuring $5 cocktails and menu items.
Has Lady Gaga lost her gays? There was a slew of club events last week marking the release of the popfart's new The Remix album, but the one at The Abbey, awarding free concert tix and SBE spa certificates for fans who came dressed up in one of the singer's bonkers-Barbarella looks, sounded like the go-to gag-a-fest of the week. Unfortunately, only one "little monster" got dolled up for us "paparazzi." The event probably wasn't promoted properly — still, we were surprised. SBE (Katsuya, XIV and, more recently, Gladstones) took over the Abbey five years ago (it's been open for 20) and the company has the connections to pull off something great and celeb-studded. And while many GLBT locals have claimed it's too straight these days, we saw a nice mix of all-preferences party people at the event. Though it wasn't packed, the crowd was having a ball, even if they weren't working it fashion-wise. Yeah, they were there to "Just Dance."
As for The Remix, don't bother buying it unless you're an überfan. We're not all that into the original hits, but the idea of a remix was intriguing, and could have seen Lady G win a whole new group of fans had the new interpretations been more innovative. Even a strangely promising collab with Marilyn Manson falls flat. But then, the Lady's style has always outshined her substance, hasn't it?