View more photos in Lina Lecaro's slideshow, "Nightranger: Pablove Across America Party, Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood and More."
Hollywood has long been vying to live up to the fantasy, excess and excitement projected on TV, film and other media, and after last week we think it may have finally succeeded, with some gargantuan new destinations, two of which marked their arrivals with over-the-top, Vegas-style blowouts.
SBE's Redbury Hotel opened its crimson gates on Oct. 21 with much fanfare. A Glee-like choir welcomed guests out front, DJ Adam 12 spun perfect party tunes inside, models decked out as peacocks and human chandeliers posed like statues in different areas, a frenzy of fancy cocktails flowed and, most notably, lavish food spreads (courtesy of adjoining restaurant Cleo) offered nonstop gorging.
The food and drink here were amazing: SBE (helmed by the inimitable Sam Nazarian) is behind Katsuya, XIV, Industry, Colony and The Abbey, and it has earned a good rep with the culinary and clubbin' cognoscenti.
While Cleo and Redbury's lobby and bars have a retro feel inspired by silver-screen sirens of yore (blown-up black-and-white photos of actresses, many from the silent era, adorn the walls), the rooms are a little funkier. The lower-level rooms may not have the best views (trashy alleys), but the tourists might actually appreciate the authentic Hollywood domicile. Coolest detail? Old turntables and a collection of vinyl to play in every room. Sample of the one we toured: Rick James, The Specials, Beastie Boys, Billy Idol and even Kenny Loggins.
Camp Freddy provided entertainment for the evening (we hear Macy Gray joined in), but we left before they took the stage. The reason we ran off? We overindulged on both the buffets and the booze. Glam and gluttony are what this place is all about, right?
ROCK & A HARD PLACE
As if we needed more diet-killers, up the street Hard Rock Café Hollywood marked its grand opening with nearly as much grub a few nights later. Hard (no pun intended) not to have mixed feelings about the chain. It has some of the best rock & roll memorabilia anywhere, but there's something kind of generic about the vibe at the museumlike eateries. However impressive, the excess of displays makes individual pieces seem a little less special. Maybe it's seeing very un-rockin' tourist types chomping cheeseburgers next to music-history collectibles and paying them no mind.
The space soft-opened over the summer in the Sunset space that used to be the Virgin Megastore, and Hard Rock honchos finally marked it with the official bash on Friday, hosted by George Lopez, with performances by Orianthi and Robin Thicke, plus Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs. Lopez was his usual rabble-rousing self, pumping up the crowd and dissing House of Blues ("Don't go there, come here") in the process. Not sure if live music will be a regular staple à la HOB level at Hard Rock, but it could be. There's a huge stage, a sound system, lighting and ample room for concertgoers in the back of the venue.
Orianthi played an acoustic set of Taylor Swift–meets-Pink tunes, but we would have preferred to see the Australian riffster go electric for this set, showing off the chops that got her a gig with Michael Jackson (she's seen tearing it up in This Is It). Thicke came on about an hour later, grinding and grooving his signature sexed-up suave crooner cuts (sweaty pelvis-swishing and suggestive breathing) and meshing in a little Jackson and Al Green. The ladies watching around us sure were feeling it. The event (food was free, drinks were $5) benefited the Downtown Women's Center, which provides permanent supportive housing for homeless women.
Speaking of raising money for good causes, earlier in the eve across town at Dangerbird Records in Silver Lake, bands such as Silversun Pickups and Fitz & the Tantrums, along with friends and fans of the label, gathered to celebrate an incredible effort by the label's co-founder Jeff Castelaz, who formed the Pablove Foundation in honor of his son Pablo, who died of cancer in 2009. With Pablove Across America, Jeff set out to ride from coast to coast, raising money and spreading awareness about childhood cancer. He did it again this year, and the second annual ride raised $810,000 by the time Castelaz made a heartfelt speech near the end of the party. Inspiring. Visit Pablove.org for more info and to contribute.
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CREEPS & CRAMPS
Remember when a show by The Cramps was a Halloween tradition in L.A.? We relived those gloriously ghouly days Saturday night during The Human Flys' set at HM (Historical Monument) 157 in Lincoln Heights. Flys, a Cramps tribute group led by sinewy singer Jack Atlantis, spewed the legendary spookabilly band's gravest hits ("Goo-Goo Muck," "Garbage Man," "I Was a Teenage Werewolf") with boozy zeal. Not surprising. Atlantis used to do a mean David Bowie and a hypnotizing Peter Murphy at Club Makeup, the glam spot that filled El Rey every month with glitter-drenched rockers, drag queens and lusty looky-loos (the club was featured on E!'s heavily repeated Hollywood Nights specials).
On Saturday, Atlantis' channeling of Lux Interior may have been even more spellbinding. He didn't don Lux's infamous high heels, but he did offer costume changes, including a shirtless and shiny-vinyl-pants ensemble that was very Lux. His vox, complete with melodic hoots and shrieks, was spot-on, and while in town he scored additional gigs, including a slot with Don Bolles' Raw Power Rangers at The Echo. Bolles (or "Bowls," as we like to call him) deejayed the party and his Alice Cooper cover group, The Earwigs, played along with quirky funk-rockers Quasar and the Bamboozled. "Living Dead Girl" fire dancers The Nautch Conspiracy and a performance by MC Andrew Abelson and pal Jean Spinosa rounded out the mad-monster party at HM 157. For those with trick-or-treaters, the creepy-cool manse will have a haunted house on Sunday. Fit it into your spooker schedule.
As for Nightranger, we don't think there is anything scarier than trying to weed through all the events on this, the most wicked weekend of the year, but we'll scare up something. Happy Halloween!