Best of L.A.

Best Of 2012


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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Sexy Private Party Space
Studio Servitu

Hidden in the depths of a downtown L.A. manufacturing warehouse, Studio Servitù is an oasis for outrageous art and events helmed by two fierce females, Miss Crash and Jane Jett, beckoning fans of fetishistic fun, the female form and dark delights. These gals know the importance of creating an ominous, sexy atmosphere. (The ladies are fetish models, and Crash is a successful "suspension" artist — look it up and you'll probably say ouch!) The spacious, black-and-white studio is available for photo shoots and workshops, but art events and openings seem to be its forte. Dr. Sketchy's sensuous life-drawing salons take place here, and audacious art shows such as a recent book signing by hot rod artist Coop and Nick Kushner's "Blood Art" show always offer arousing amusements: Coop had body-painted devil girls dancing to live punk bands, while Kushner's opening saw Marilyn Manson and bandmate Twiggy Ramirez rocking dark jams as DJs (yes, mostly their own). The underground vibe (you get there by taking a giant freight elevator) also has been sought for fashion fetes like Creep Street's "Frisky Busine$$" and movie nights by adult faves Burning Angel. When it comes to good music — nearly every party we've attended has had a skilled DJ — and open minds, Servitù serves it and leaves you begging for more. 825 S. Alameda St., dwntwn. (619) 800-0746,,

—Lina Lecaro

825 S. Alameda St., Los Angeles, 90021
Best Singer-Songwriter

Pat Grossi's stage name is Active Child, which refers to his precious, youthful tendency to put his ears right up to the speaker to get a better listen. The moniker is a bit cringe-inducing, and indeed the lyrics on the Pasadena resident's 2011 full-length debut album, You Are All I See, aren't for those too cool to attend school. They're unfiltered, unvarnished, filled with pummeling emotional honesty, through the eyes of sometimes-vindictive characters whose feelings are crushed over and over but nonetheless expect next time to be different. "I fall in love, way too fast," he sings on "Way Too Fast." "You're so damn cold, soon you'll be all by yourself." Produced by composition genius Ariel Rechtshaid, Grossi's songs are often accented by electronic flourishes and harp, and almost all of them feel like climactic scenes in dramatic movies — the part where we learn Bruce Willis is dead, or that the woman in The Crying Game is a man. This is not music for the ironic of heart.

—Ben Westhoff

Best Latin Alternative Band

If there is one band that represents the multicultural mix of Los Angeles, it's La Santa Cecilia. Since its Latin Grammy nomination last year, the Boyle Heights–bred group has been representing L.A. at major festivals in Texas and New York. (It's exciting, particularly for those who can remember them packing La Cita in their early years.) They're also picking up the attention of critics, through pieces on NPR's All Things Considered and Latino USA. Further, their hybrid of Latin, rock and world music has caught the attention of groups like Cafe Tacuba, Lila Downs, Ozomatli and Los Lobos, all of whom have had La Santa Cecilia open shows for them this year. Anyone who has attended their concerts can attest that lead singer Marisol "La Marisoul" Hernandez has one of the most powerful voices in the city, in any genre.

—Eddie Cota

Best Free Concert Series
Levitt Pavilions Summer Concert Series

Each summer the Levitt Pavilions in Pasadena and MacArthur Park put on free shows; the scene is relaxed, the views are nice, and the lineups are absolutely first-rate. Although a good portion of the musicians are from L.A., they come from all over the world, and include Weekly favorite acts like Dam-Funk, Fool's Gold and Buyepongo. (There's a particular emphasis on Latin alternative music, with a spotlight on new and underappreciated groups.) It's suitable for the whole family but edgy enough for serious music aficionados, there are great food vendors and, hey, did we mention it's free? MacArthur Park: 230 W. Sixth St., Westlake. (213) 384-5701. Pasadena: Memorial Park, between Walnut and Holly on Raymond Avenue, Pasadena. (626) 683-3230,

—Molly Bergen

2230 W. Sixth St., Los Angeles, 90057
Best Rap Collective

South Los Angeles rap collective Black Hippy was assembled by Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith, who, via a handwritten sign hanging in their Carson studio, lets them know that they should strive for charisma, personality, swagger, substance, lyrics, uniqueness and work ethic. In an era of one-off dance club hits, it's the "substance" that the group — rappers Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, ScHoolBoy Q and breakout star Kendrick Lamar — seems to take to heart most particularly. Their hard-edged raps pay strict attention to craft and structure, while remaining suitable for car stereos and self-medication time. With members dropping first-rate solo efforts in rapid succession, the collective has linked up with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records, and a group effort is in the works. So much concentrated talent is a bit dizzying — and supergroups never seem to work — but our money is still on Black Hippy living up to their reputation as this decade's N.W.A.

—Ben Westhoff

Best Concert Venue
Walt Disney Concert Hall

Smooth steel curves cut the skyline at unexpected angles and sharp creases, which is partly why no other building in L.A. proclaims "21st century" like Walt Disney Concert Hall. The acoustics and visuals inside are as impressive as the exterior, which makes it easily the best place to hear an orchestra in Southern California. Whether it's symphonic or choral music, an organ recital or a jazz, pop or folk-music show, the sound is detailed and warm. Meanwhile, seating surrounds the stage — something that is rare in the United States. Conducting geeks can sit behind the orchestra, while thrill seekers can purchase a front-row seat in the balcony (or side and rear terraces) for an extra adrenaline rush. Even the parking garage directly below is clean, safe and easy to use. Want to learn more? Take the free, self-guided audio tour narrated by actor John Lithgow, architect Frank Gehry and L.A. Philharmonic conductor laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen. 111 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn. (323) 850-2000,

—Christian Hertzog

111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 90012
2301 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, 90068

Best Sexy Private Party Space: Studio Servitu


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