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Grammy Party Report #1: Black Eyed Peas At Annual Peapod Benefit

Grammy weekend always brings a special buzz to LA (and extra fuzz/freakiness on the streets) and this past weekend was no exception. With everyone in town for music's big night, it's an excuse to jam, jiggle and get juiced (thanks to liquor sponsors), often with your favorite artist shakin that thang a few steps away. With so many options and stellar performances going down, the party scene nearly overshadowed the show itself. Read on for Nightranger's reports from the weekend's best ragers.

BEP get the Grammy party onslaught started.
BEP get the Grammy party onslaught started.
Lina Lecaro

Say what you will about the Black Eyed Peas' recent Super Bowl Performance (and the evolution of their music in general, for that matter), catching them on stage in a smaller venue, they are guaranteed to not only jive live, but earn your respect as well. Not sure if they were consciously looking for redemption after the garish, Twitter-berated Bowl gig, but Thursday at their annual pre-Grammys Peapod Foundation Benefit, they got some, at least where this writer is concerned.

One of the Grammy weekend party highlights every year, the Blackberry and Bacardi-sponsored Peapod bash (which benefits Will.i.am's charity of the same name, raising money for lower income youth via shelter, education, health care and music programs) always offers a looser, less embellished performance from the group and gathers a stellar line-up for a jam-like, late-into-night rager. Past years, we've been able to see Justin Timberlake, Sergio Mendez, Janelle Monae, and Slash just to name a few, on tiny stages at the Conga Room, Avalon and the 'Box.

Retro references? It's his prerogative.
Retro references? It's his prerogative.
Lina Lecaro

This time, there were no silly Tron outfits or lazers to distract from the true talents of Will, Fergie, Taboo and Apl, and their gifts shone through. The fun had on stage was infectious, too. Will even rocked a keytar!

Fergie feels it.
Fergie feels it.
Lina Lecaro

Yes, we've got issues with some of the homogenized electro they've shilled and made millions from, but Thursday, in the more paired down presentation the (re-mixed?) versions felt edgy and fresh. We'll give props where props are due: Will is one the best freetstylers of all time, Fergie's range is beyond impressive (her sass-a-rap might work on some numbers, but the truth is, it takes away from the cred she deserves vocally) and the other two got flow and mad moves.

Ciara brought her goodies on stage.
Ciara brought her goodies on stage.
Lina Lecaro

Guests on stage Thursday included members of Earth, Wind and Fire, Ozomatli, Bobby Brown (makes sense since Will's rockin' his Gumby cut these days), Jackson Browne, K'Naan, Natasha Bedingfield, John Legend, LMFAO and Ciara (whose sexy stompin' dance-filled set left us speechless save for one word: dayum!). Beastie Boys beatman Mixmaster Mike left us equally astounded. Due to technical difficulties he did his scratch attack on one turntable... and we couldn't even tell. Familiar faces in the crowd included Joe Jonas, David Arquette, and Cedric the Entertainer.

See more photos in this week's Nightranger slideshow.


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