BOOM, BOOM, OW! SURVIVING GRAMMY WEEK IN L.A.
View more photos in Lina Lecaro's "Nightranger Hits the Grammy Scene" slideshow.
With a couple exceptions, "music's biggest night" was again music's most disappointing night, but we'll say this, the Grammy Awards do make for appropriate ice-pack-on-the-head/feet-in-a-bucket couch viewing after a weekend of hard partying in Los Angeles. Truly, we never do it harder than when this week comes around, and more often than not we're rewarded with great performances that, unlike the choreographed cartoonery of the telecast, make it worth it.
For the past several years the Black Eyed Peas have sort of appropriated Grammy week for their own causes, which to their credit always seem to have charitable components. This year was no exception, as will.i.am and co. were everywhere, and we're not even talking about the ubiquitous/obnoxious "I Gotta Feeling," which now feels like a shameless ode (plea?) to the Grammys themselves. Willie had two events on L.A. Live's campus (Gillette's Uncut film screening at the Grammy Museum and an art exhibit called "Who Killed the Music?" benefiting his I.Am scholarship) and the Peas made appearances at Clive Davis' famed night of heaving heavies Saturday and the final Dipdive party at Club Lingerie with Steve Aoki after the awards Sunday. They also had a ceremony of their own, the Dipdive Data Awards at the Palladium on Thursday, which celebrated electronic music and bestowed the likes of Diplo and David Guetta with diamond-encrusted BlackBerries as trophies. Both producers rocked the house (Dip with an otherworldly looking Kelis at the mic, Guetta with Fergie and the fellas and Kelly Rowland), but it was hard not to think about the whole Adam Freeland sample-rip fiasco when Guetta (who produced their Grammy-winning The E.N.D.) kept slathering on the praise for the group, gushing about how they're helping to bring electronic music "into a new frontier." The Freeland matter was settled and what Guetta said is actually true, but we're still on the fence about the mainstreaming of DJ dance culture, especially to the cheesetastic level seen during the Peas' Grammy performance. Still, I.Am is proving to be a pretty reverent fan of the genres, with his recent club appearances, and his spinner set Thursday wasn't too shabby, though the drunks in the crowd who'd been waiting for him to take the stage for three to four hours probably would have got retarded for anything.
Nightranger isn't one to wait around when there's so much goin' on, and luckily there was time to check out An Evening of Higher Consciousness just down the street at the Lingerie between the awards and the BEP beatdown. Haven't been to the Dipdive parties there so it was nice to see the famed space's new industrial look. The intimate show, organized by Buddhist group Gyalwang Drukpa to advance peace, gender equality and education around the globe, was a nice respite from the self-congratulatory spectacle of the week, too. The jam included an off-the-wall but electrifying assortment of players, including Poe, Norwood Fisher, Tracii Guns, Bronx Style Bob, Ben Lee and more. See drukpausa.org for info on the group's humanitarian efforts and future jamborees.
Expectations for the Grammys actually getting it right have become so low, even Taylor Swift's sweep was expected. Similarly sad to say, nobody had presumptions about Silversun Pickups winning Best New Artist, least of all the band themselves. At a party for the group thrown by Dangerbird Records last Friday, singer Brian Aubert told us "the country guy" (he couldn't remember the name) would win the category, though he hoped MGMT might have a chance. He was right about Zac Brown, of course, but hey, the party was a blast and the Silver Lake locale definitely made for an atmosphere unlike any other Grammy festivity in town. Haters can say what they want about our hood (S'Lake), but they can't deny the unfettered ambience of get-togethers here, house or otherwise. This one offered screen-printed canvas bags, free tacos and good tunes. Though there was a longish line out front, Aubert joined the rest of us dregs in it, waiting patiently to get into his own soiree. That would never, ever happen in Hollywood.
From home of the Silversuns to home of the silver screen, it was in fact, on to Hollywood for us later Saturday. Paramount Studios hosted the 13th annual Friends 'N' Family Party with short but sweet performances from Estelle, George Clinton, Mayer Hawthorne, Jay Sean and Kevin Rudolf (whose hit "Let It Rock" saw everyone singing along, even if no one we asked could tell us his name). Clinton's jam was a technicolor funk free-for-all as always, but the real star of this shindig was definitely the spread: free food, libations, video games and ample couches. Also notable: an influx of late partiers who came from the MusiCares Neil Young tribute (goodie bags in tow), an all-too-common sight last weekend. The following night we hear so many luminaries bolted from Davis' Grammy gathering before its climax, the bigwig himself chided the half-empty room.
The concurrent Grammy goings-on created scheduling challenges for us all. We're dying to see inside the new W Hotel Hollywood, and Ne-Yo's annual Midnight Brunch bash there Saturday seemed the perfect opportunity, but it started at the same time as the sixth annual Roots Jam at the (new) Key Club, and attempts to pop in before didn't work out. As if there was any doubt, the Roots Jam ended up being the winningest Grammy week wing-ding, by the way. They took a break last year, but ?uestlove and co. — who are arguably better known than ever thanks to their Jimmy Fallon gig and recent Hope For Haiti house-band duties — came back with a vengeance, serving up a tireless procession of groove-riding hip-hop and soul, with guests, including Estelle, John Legend, Scott Storch (don't call it a comeback), Foreign Exchange, Jay Electronica, Bilal and, our favorite, Mos Def rockin a red, retro-style mic and Jackson-ish moves. Mesmerizing. It was just a year ago that we first joined Twitter to follow the Grammy-related antics of "Mr. Love" (as we dweebishly addressed the drummer for a photo), so meeting him felt very full-circle. His tweets this year might have been comparatively limited, but his beats — far more important — felt limitless.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.