View more photos in the "Nightranger: R.I.P DJ AM, Hollywood Castle and More" slideshow.
DANCING ON THE CEILING
For those who knew him personally, as well as those who simply had the pleasure of letting the caboose loose during one of his many magical dance-floor odysseys here in L.A., in his hometown of Philly, in NYC, in Vegas and every other music and nightlife mecca around the world, DJ AM’s passing last week was an epic loss. We didn’t know him very well and only chatted a couple times — once for a story years ago about genre-blending DJ sets (which, pretty much everybody agrees, he helped to pioneer and bring to the mainstream) and a few times out and about at spots like Cinespace and LAX. But we always felt he was one of the real ones, a guy with both serious skill and unwavering passion for what he did, a fellow who could have, but never, ever just phoned/computer-keyed it in. And notably for L.A., he was unfazed by his own “celebrity DJ” status. Despite whom he dated over the years, whom he shared the stage with more recently, and the big bucks he earned all around the world spinning at A-lister events, he never abandoned the sweatboxes where he got his start, and often offered his most fervent sets inside of them, many recently, after the tragic plane crash he survived last year. Banana Split Sundaes at LAX, and then Bardot, with his friend Steve Aoki, were always giddy good times (the club went dark this past Sunday to honor him, and we wonder if it will even continue at this point). Those who saw him there and at other non–red carpet events know that it was in the warm, familial and less glitzy environments (often filled with his dance music–obsessed DJ peers and discerning electro-scene peeps) that AM went beyond the hip-hop/pop-tart/classic rock mash-ups that, let’s face it, mostly clueless corporate party crowds have come to demand. Not to say that his famous banger/rock-anthem blends were ever ordinary. We may have gotten sick of hearing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and Outfield’s “Your Love” on the dance floor a long time ago, but when AM incorporated them into his pulsating, puzzlelike sets, we still danced, anxious to see how he’d put the pieces together each and every time. Hard to believe we all won’t get to experience that blissful anticipation and witness the exultation of a live AM mix moment ever again. Still, AM’s legacy will continue via the future turntablists he influenced on the decks, and the people he inspired away from them. R.I.P., Adam Goldstein.
Last week was a downer in more ways than one (Ted Kennedy and Dominick Dunne also passed, of course), and, compounded by the crazy heat and lung-rankling fires, it just called for laying low — at least for Nightranger. Everyone else we know seemed to wrangle their way into the city’s onslaught of “secret” shows (MIA at Lot 613, Wolfmother at the Roxy, Dead Weather at the Regent turned Jack White–retail wonderland), but we waited for the weekend and more mood-matching affairs on Saturday night, beginning at La Luz de Jesus and ending at a private party at a real-life castle in the hills (not the magic one), the invite for which coincidentally required patrons to wear mourning-appropriate black. Luckily, the dark fashion also fit in at La Luz, where L.A. goth legend Johnny Indovina unveiled new material from “Wind of Change,” the second disc from his latest project, Sound of the Blue Heart.
Indovina, best known for his brutal and beguiling work with seminal gloomsters Human Drama, continues to make thoughtfully intense, hypnotic and hook-filled tunes, and it seems surviving the music biz for more than two decades has given him an interesting perspective on life and growing older. He definitely conveyed it lyrically. He also spoke of this during the set, and he was surely feeling nostalgic looking at the crowd. We were. In the house were many of his old Club Lingerie co-workers (Indovina was once the former live-music venue’s doorman), including Bobby Carlton and Europa, and co-rockers such as Motorcycle Boy Francois and members of Miss Derringer. Triple X records put out the Blue Heart release, and the label’s head, Pete Heur (a Nightranger pal we haven’t seen since our teens!), was in the house, too. We asked whatever happened to our fave indie label (best known for releasing the classic first Jane’s Addiction release) and learned that it’s still thriving right here in L.A., though with a different musical thrust: Chicano rap, with big sellers, including DTTX (of A Lighter Shade of Brown), Mr. Shadow, Lil Blacky and Brown Boy. La Luz’s Billy Shire, by the way, tells us he has some big art shows coming up both at La Luz and his Billy Shire Fine Arts in Culver City, including one from Miss Derringer’s saucy Liz McGrath next month.
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Next, it was off to find a shuttle on Vine Street, that would take us to Les Noits Noires, an exclusive bash hosted by our pal Rich Royal for Elliot Johnson (one of the co-creators of Morphine Generation, now running the line Literature Noir with his wife) and boutique buyer Nicolette Human. Held in a gorgeous manor fit for a king known as “The Hollywood Castle,” the soiree had sounds provided by DJ diva Daisy O’Dell, a live magic show by Christopher Wonder (his confetti interludes never get old), savory ’n’ sweet grub from Tiara Café’s Fred Eric and free-flowin’ libations — basically all the makings for an enchanting affair. The all-black dress code was a nice touch, too, though our single gal pals noted that the sea of darkness made man-scoping difficult. How does one distinguish a stylish fella from a sorry one, when everyone looks the same? (This is definitely why they make dudes wear all black at Playboy Kandyland parties ... it equalizes the playing field.) Check out the shoes, we say! Anyway, the castle (complete with moat, which of course someone just had to dive into Saturday), owned by Adam Friedman (rapper/model Lisa D’Amato’s main squeeze), garnered most of the attention. Check its MySpace page (myspace.com/thehollywoodcastle) for info on how you can have a bash there yourself.