Nightranger: It's a Mad, Mad World

Not the Same-O stage wear for Ken Roht’s 99¢ Only-inspired Electric Ballad

View more photos in Lina Lecaro's slideshow, "Nightranger: Afterdark Club Madness at Kress, Eden, The Mint & More."

Gunshots inside Hollywood hot spots, crazy-costumed college rock in West L.A., and 99¢ Only–inspired lunacy invading the theater scene: Nightranger's 2011 started off in unpredictable fashion, but even we had no idea how bizarro things might get this week. And we can't imagine what kind of insanity is yet to come.

We thought last year was pretty wacky, but so far, not even two weeks in, L.A. has been downright bonkers everywhere after dark. The punk riot on the Sunset Strip (not even the most hard-core lineup we've seen at Key Club) and a shooting last Friday inside Kress nightclub. Talk about a disco bloodbath. And as (bad?) luck would have it, Nightranger was there.

OK, we weren't actually inside the club, but across the street for the much-anticipated debut of Eden (formerly Opera), the newest superclub from Syndicate Group (Tony Daly and David Judaken, the guys behind My House, My Studio and a bunch of velvet-rope dens before that). As we attempted — unsuccessfully, this time — to finagle our way inside the capacity club, we saw our car get flanked by the fuzz and soon learned of the shooting that had occurred only moments prior across the street.

Getting stuck on Schrader for about an hour as the LAPD conducted their investigation into the shooting of a Kress security guard was a surreal experience. The parking lot that serviced both clubs was closed off, which meant the street was flooded with mobs of angry cops, random celebs and carless clubbers leaving Eden (mostly drunk Snooki clones — what is it with Hollywood club girls and sausage-tight Lycra minidresses right now? — and Eurotrashtastic dudes in cubic zirconia "bling"). Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards, who was inside with nieces Paris and Nicky most of the night, tweeted, "Shooting outside the club. NOT a good sign! This is NOT very LA. :/ cops won't let us get r car." Well, not your gated bubble of L.A., beeyotch. OK, maybe not ours either.


As for Eden, we apparently missed partying not only with the Hiltons, but Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, who, we hear, "succumbed to temptation" inside the Adam & Eve–ish environs. The mise-en-scène included snake charmers, candy-apple treats and a live camel to celebrate the opening.

The investigation at Kress is ongoing, but we can't say we're too surprised about what happened there. Weekends in Hollywood are always a mixed bag, particularly at venues that have lost their "It spot" luster. We've seen scuffles at Kress before, thanks to body backups on the stairwells leading to its multiple levels. But before Friday, it never went beyond Bad Girls Club–style weave-heaving catfights and bouncers giving bozos the boot.

We're guessing you'll see a lot less of everything at Kress for a while (except for security, of course), which will probably make Eden even more of a mess outside than it already is.


Could all this freaky nightlife folly be — like the dead fish and birds everywhere — but another sign of impending apocalypse? (We overheard that suggestion via a cell convo waiting for our car! Snooki cookies are deep!) Funny, though, as one of the bands we checked out earlier Friday night, Super Duper, tout themselves as the band you want to see if "the world is ending tonight," and they've even got a song about it. From the tune "Club Apocalypse": "If CNN says the planet's in peril/that means it's time to don your dance apparel/There's not a shred of hope/but there's no velvet rope/Come on bring your plus-ones/until it's minus Everyone." Charming.

We arrived at The Mint as Super Duper was closing out its set, and the crowd was abounce with a giant fish, a 7-foot-tall T. rex, a spazzy dancing skeleton chick and some other strange costumed creeps, which apparently is part of the Super shtick. Speaking of shtick, the Mint's headliners, Black Crystal Wolf Kids, make best use of theirs, donning tracksuits while spewing not-quite-retro rock hits.

If you didn't figure it out by the name (har-har), they are, in fact, "the world's first [au courant] indie rock cover band" (if you don't count, like, every amusement park/hotel/bar band that attempts MGMT or Kings of Leon). These guys aren't clueless hitmongers, however, but astute music experts. Rock journo/ThrillistLA's head ed Jeff Miller fronts the group, which includes members of his former band City Museum.

Miller got tired of all the too-cool, arms-crossed crowds at most gigs ("on the Eastside") and decided to do something made for singing along, a millennial tribute band playing mostly Westside venues. Friday's set featured some pretty irresistible faves, done right, too: Modest Mouse's "Float On," Black Keys' "Tighten Up," even Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros' "Home" for a local touch. Catch BCWK at O'Brien's on Jan. 21 and at Central Aid & Social Club Feb. 11, both in Santa Monica.


And finally, those looking to enjoy mind-blowing and flamboyant nightlife from the comfort and safety of a theater seat will want to check out Ken Roht's Same-O: A 99¢ Only Electric Ballad at the Bootleg Theatre, which returns after a holiday vacay and runs through Jan. 30. In its seventh year, the dramatic multimedia musical is known for its dazzling use of materials from everyone's favorite discount store for all its sets and costumes.

This year, Roht went a more earth-friendly route, substituting all the plastic seen in previous shows with paper products and recycled materials from Green Paper Alliance. With catchy electro-tinged numbers, crazed choreography and psychedelic backdrops and getups, it's escapist fun (Go with a buzz!) with a message that goes beyond the obvious sustainability focus. The loose storyline seems to be about nonconformity, self-expression and oppression, and it ends with an amazingly beautiful gay wedding. Those who live in the Bootleg's neighborhood (90057 Zip code) can even score tix for 99¢.

For more, up-to-the-minute Nightranger coverage and photos, go to

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