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Pop 'n' Stuff

Just another night on the Sunset Strip (Photo by LIna Lecaro)

We’ve stood amongst our share of bozos at music showcases, especially on the Sunset Strip, but the media and industry shindig for U.K. pop sensation Mika the Wednesday before last at The Roxy had ’em for real . . . as in round red noses and big floppy shoes. Clowns on stilts juggling and making balloon animals (is it just us, or do these twisted li’l things always seem to look pornographic?) were meant to be entertainment for the folks in the long, chilly line waiting to get in, but this was a procession of people who don’t usually wait in line, and the mood outside was more bitchfest than bacchanal. One fella seemed to get into the whole circus vibe, though: shameless gossip blogger Perez Hilton, whom we actually mistook for part of the sideshow at first, what with his cotton-candy pink hair and the loud Dim Mak hoodie he was wearing (Sundance swag perhaps?). Inside, the crazy carny theme continued with balloons galore, Day-Glo displays and free suckers — Mika has a song about lollipops that’s downright Disneyesque. The singer’s other tunes are equally catchy and vivacious — think Scissor Sisters meets George Michael with a litte Maroon Five thrown in — and he’s got a gorgeous set of pipes, though his much-used falsetto was a little too false at times, making us wonder if he’d been sucking the helium tank backstage. Internet chatter for the Tommy Mottola–managed artist is pretty feverish, though speculation about which way he swings threatens to overshadow the music (he’s goin’ the Clay Aiken route and refusing to discuss it, which of course only makes everyone more curious). His musical influences and lyrical references (he says he “tried a little Freddie [Mercury] in his Brit hit “Grace Kelly”), plus the fact that he just played the U.K.’s hottest gay club, Popstarz, kinda says it all, but either way, we think Mika would be wise to work a more flamboyant look onstage. Though he models for groovy U.K. designer Paul Smith, the white shirt/green pants combo he sported on Wednesday was booo-ring and a real mismatch with his prancy, effervescent tunes, not to mention the colorful cover of his debut CD. Titled Life in Cartoon Motion, it comes out in the U.S. on March 27 . . .

That same Wednesday at the Viper Room across the street, a not-so-surprise show from Helmet — who replaced Eagles of Death Metal as openers on Axl’s recent Guns N’ Posers tour — attracted headbangin’ hordes including fellow rocker Chino Moreno of The Deftones. At the show, door diva Stephanie Mata gave us some juicy scoop about the abrupt closure of her other guest-list-manning gig, the Vine Street Lounge. Mata says bookings like “A Quiet Evening With Andy Dick” (yeah, right — Lindsay Lohan hung there pre-rehab) and The Bomboras’ bombastic New Year’s Eve show weren’t exactly the kind of family-friendly entertainment the owner wanted at the venue, so he pulled the plug for ’07. Booker Ron Mesh is looking for a new space. We’ll keep ya posted. . . . In other closure news, tiki fave the Lava Lounge will be lei’d to rest in February. We hear the mini-mall dive will undergo a remodel and a name change. More details as they become available . . . San Fran’s electronic-dance-music haven Spundae celebrated its final party at Circus last Saturday. According to an e-mail flier we received last week, they will soon join forces with Avalon, no doubt in a quest to squash Giant (now at Vanguard), which had alliances with both venues over the years. Looks like Saturday night is still all right for fighting when it comes to the dance-club scene!

Life is a cabaret, especially for the artsy A-listers who comprise New York’s politically minded musical collective The Citizens Band. The old-timey troupe brought its sublime stage show to the Avalon last Thursday, and famous friends including Lisa Marie Presley and musician hubby Michael Lockwood (both almost incognito under big black hats), Quentin Tarantino and Maggie Gyllenhaal and her man Peter Sarsgaard came out to support. Created by filmmaker Sarah Sophie Flicker, the show melds aerialist feats, colorful costumes and a multiperiod array of songs showcasing the vocal talents of more than a dozen performers, including actress Rain Phoenix, Scottish crooner Angela McCluskey and model Karen Elson, who proves she’s much more than Jack White’s model bride and baby mama . . . this flame-haired beauty can sing! Intertwining vintage-style vignettes both merry and melancholy, Citizens Band makes provocative statements about the state of our world, and Thursday’s theme, “Masquerading in Paradise,” featuring a guest appearance by Zooey Deschanel (past guests have included Gyllenhaal, Cindy Lauper and Melissa Auf der Maur) tackled everything from war casualties to gas prices. They are stridently anti-Bush administration. (Duh!) The raucous fun continued at the after-party upstairs in the Spider Club, where C.B. members, many still in their shimmering ’20s-era costumes, boogied with their ol’ L.A. chums to ’50s and ’60s music, sipping champagne, smoking cigarettes and chattering away like a scene out of some decadent speakeasy. Not all partook in the hedonistic antics, though — both Flicker and her pal C.B. member Jorjee Douglass were sporting baby bumps during the show that we later learned were not props. Here’s to a whole new generation of theatrical rebel-rousers!


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