View more photos in Lina Lecaro's "Skins and Sins" Nightranger slideshow.
Music solos might be absurdly retro, but there is something about watching a (skilled) player go off on their instrument that’s awesome and primal, and — at the risk of sounding groupie-ish — damn sexy. Nightranger had the pleasure of witnessing more than a couple masturbatory music-making moments this week, and all were quite satisfying. First, let’s expand on the tidbit we gave ya about Camerata last week. The club has suddenly bubbled into a hotspot at Cinespace, and not only is it holding its own against Hollywood’s reigning Sunday confection Banana Split at LAX (with Steve Aoki and DJ AM) down the street, but when we popped in the Sun. after NYE, the crowd was just as keen and cute as Aoki’s Tuesday nights in the same space. The front room was filled with skinny-jeaned shaggers doing iPod-commercial-worthy moves, with zero elbow room, no less. We were shocked. We thought the night was primarily a showcase for the trippy metallic noodlings of The Devil’s Orchestra, a group of local lads who’ve been packing the back room of the club with free shows and live art on stage since last March. Turns out Club Moscow’s Keith Wilson was brought into the fold several months ago, and the party has been bringing together head- and laptop-bangers alike ever since. As for the Devil dudes, we found their caustic grinds — a bludgeoning of classical, almost circus-y melodies with thunderous grooves and buildups — compelling to watch, especially the guitar and keyboard shattering work of the leader named Snake. The faux-hawked bassist and hair-flipping drummer (both of whom had solos too… we think) did their best to keep up amid the dramatic chaos. Don’t let the ostentatious Dungeons n’ Dragons-esque lore on TDO’s MySpace put ya off either; they’re scorching live.
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KICKS & STICKS
The 20th Annual Guitar Center Drum-Off at The Music Box at the Fonda last Saturday night offered the ultimate one-man live music experience, though. Guitar solos can be obnoxious, but pounders having fits on the skins are always engaging, especially when tricks, kicks and twirling sticks are involved. Surprisingly, the contestants didn’t ham it up too much (one dude drank water during his one-handed jam, though). Instead we got entrancingly rhythmic sets from six finalists culled from all around the country. Surely a tough decision for the judges — who included Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins, Avenged Sevenfold’s The Rev and Tool’s Danny Carey — but Atlanta’s Jerome Flood II was ultimately named the winner, scoring 25 grand in cash and another 20 grand in gear. Wonder if he had some help from a higher power? Flood cited God as his No. 1 musical inspiration and donned a “Jesus” tee (scripted in the Reese’s candy logo) for the competition. Upstairs in the VIP section, it was all about black garb and cold beer (and Jager shots), though we weren’t able to capture the mayhem on film as security made sure no pics were taken. Hell-o? Drummers have disreputably played second fiddle to frontmen and guitarists since the dawn of time, and here was an event where, for once, they were the stars. Don’t think anybody would’ve minded being fussed over and flashed up a little. Oh well. Host Stephen Perkins did a decent job of emceeing, and the special performances by Shadows Fall, Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain (who looks even more like band mascot Eddie the Head these days, especially when he flung himself into a gong-embellished set) and the double-slammy, two-kit collab between Thomas Pridgen (Mars Volta) and Thomas Lang were all slappin’-silly good. But the headlining set from Papa Roach (remember them?) left us scratching our head. When did the baggy-pant wearing “Last Resort” guys turn into Motley Crue? They were virtually unrecognizable both looks- and sound-wise, which might be a good thing since their nu-metal counterparts are all MIA. The band were actually starting to win us over with their energy and semi-catchy choruses until Nikki Sixx (now) lookalike Jacoby Shaddix (Coby Dick, back in the day) took his rebel-raging a tad too far, spewing downright torrential amounts of water and spit from his mouth into the audience and, inadvertently (?) on our camera, numerous times. Like we say when we see a real roach: ew!
We were more than to ready escape the cock rockin’ scene as the midnight hour approached Sat., and there was, really, only one place to go. Funny enough, it was a room full of penises, but most were tucked far, far away from view. We’re talking about the legendary Dragstrip 66 of course, the longest-running drag (and gay/mixed for that matter) club in L.A., which marked its 16-year anniversary with a “My Super Sweet 16” themed party at the Echoplex. The princesses — and queens — were out in full regalia for the event, and we had a ball bonding with all the wiggy “women,” many of whom like Nightranger were donning 99-Cents-Only store tiaras. The always bodacious midnight show hosted by club co-creator Mr. Dan aka Gina Lotrimon was extra eye-popping with the marvelous Momma channeling Miley Cyrus and Akbar manager Jeffrey Wylie doin’ her daddy Billy “Gay,” rocking the old-school mullet and a potent version of his line-dance classic “Ranky, Stanky Farts.” The Boofant Sisters closed out the revelry with a buoyant duet, and DJ/co-creator Paul V (who still looks good in a dress after all these years) rocked the decks with birthday-party-worthy beats. As expected, there were gowns galore, boas, big hair, mad makeup and some get-ups that just have to be seen to be believed. Luckily, nobody was a diva like the teens on that MTV show, so we were able to capture ’em all for your viewing pleasure. See the royal tranny roll-call in our slide show online, and look for the next Dragstrip (now a quarterly event at the ’Plex) on April 11 featuring a “Leathers and Feathers” theme and a live set from The Sounds of Asteroth.