When the live room at Hollywood rock bar Loaded closed in January, it was a major blow to the L.A. rock community, mostly because the type of music the place showcased — metal, glam and old-school punk — hasn't had many great venues (that aren't pay-to-play, that is) of late. Indie rock, not glitter rock, rules at most live-music venues around L.A. these days.
After the live space shuttered, Loaded's bar side remained open, offering DJs, drink specials and tasty bar food, and maintaining its black-clad clientele on weekends. But a lot of this clientele are in bands who often played at the bar and had to find new places to gig. The Viper Room, the Lost Knight, Redwood Bar, Maui Sugar Mill Saloon and a few others have made efforts to showcase the kind of loud and lewd sounds that Loaded was known for, but it wasn't the same. Playing and hanging out at Loaded made for an amped-up, Cheers-style vibe, and that was missing.
But thanks to a minor Hollywood miracle, many rockers can return to their favorite stomping grounds as of last weekend. Booker Fran DeAngelo is back, and he's determined to keep Loaded's fiendish family onstage as well as hanging out. Last Saturday two Hollywood faves, Kate Crash and Carrera, inaugurated the revamped room and epitomized the dramatic, sexy rock & roll that makes Loaded a load of fun.
"The deal [the landlords] had going with another bar group went sideways," explains DeAngelo about why they're back. "I had finally gutted the place and stored it at a friend's studio, who was gonna sell everything for us. Luckily we were both too busy to get to it, and when the guys asked if I sold everything yet, I hadn't, except for the curtain. "
That was just three weeks ago, but since the owners were game to try going live again, DeAngelo and his friends worked at night after his other job (and after his kids were in bed) to piece the club back together. They also took the opportunity to make some changes.
"Since I sold the stage curtain, it forced me to reinvent the room," DeAngelo says. "It was kind of more of a soundstage before. This time around we lowered the stage and made the room a bit more lively and appropriate for the space. We also added a couple of booths, some cool lighting projects and some artwork to make it feel a bit more lounge-y and comfortable. It's more of a hangout space, [an] old-school Hollywood nightclub instead of a watch-the band-and-leave venue now."
At least, the owners hope it will be. The room had some amazing nights in the past, but it also had some not-so-amazing nights. In general, it was doing just OK. How will the place improve and re-establish itself on the live-music front now?
"A couple of things need to happen," DeAngelo says. "I have a couple of sponsorship irons in the fire and some more band residencies that will create more of the local bar hangout atmosphere."
Saturday night, the new room filled up with flashing lights, smoke machines and vociferous wails courtesy of Crash and Carrera. Crash turned in a spastic, lo-fi electro-rock set, while Carrera brought a circuslike vibe, with sexy dancers and a guy making sparks onstage with a chainsaw. (Disclosure: Both bands are pals of this writer.)
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Ruby Carrera, the headlining band's leader, made some remarks about the need for the rock community to support the venue and got an enthusiastic reaction. "Let's all continue to come out and rock out here!" he said, as devil hands popped up around the crowd.
As far as future bookings, DeAngelo says they are keeping it punk-, ska- and rock-based, but they also plan to add more indie, country and house programming. "If anyone knows me, they know I have little discrimination for music genres, so I'm gonna let the room decide," DeAngelo says. "What sounds good in here rules."