View more photos in the Nightranger slideshow.
Though the original concept behind Cinespace was a showcase for film and food via its “dinner-and-a-movie” nights, it ultimately became known for more cacophonously cool club environs, like the electro-fueled, youthful mismatched mess and excess of Dim Mak Tuesdays, still going strong more than five years later (last Tuesday, Will.i.am even got stupid on the decks). Coupled with the newer, crazed-weekend climax of Camerata (thrown by Moscow’s Keith Wilson), the Hollywood Boulevard venue seems to be one of the few spaces in the area that’s retained the mayhem of its early days, at least on certain nights. Looking to anchor in two more, they’ve just brought in a couple of decidedly different, potentially powerhouse promotions, each with heavy, live music elements. Last Thursday, we stomped by the grand-opening event of the new weekly thrown by drummer Matt Sorum called Rock ’n’ Roll Au-Go-Go, a showcase for Sorum’s squeeze Ace Harper and her group the Darling Stilettos. Hosted by Kat Von D, and replete with black carpet and lots of tatted tarts in sexy Hollywood Boulevard garb, this was, in fact, the third time we’d seen the girl group, best described as a rock & roll version of the Pussycat Dolls. Like the Dolls, the Darlings started as a dance troupe, jiggling their plaid mini-skirted junk for the likes of Camp Freddy. Soon after, at the Key Club, they unveiled a lead singer: none other than American Idol runner-up/The Surreal Life cast member Ryan Starr, who was basically the Nicole Scherzinger of the group, taking over all the vox while the other gals writhed around her.
Starr was nowhere in sight Thursday, and that wasn’t the only lineup change. Harper’s up front singing for the now-quartet and her man, Sorum, has moved from behind the scenes to pounding skins with the group (on-hiatus Velvet Revolver — like Axl’s G N’ R — obviously won’t be needing him anytime soon). Guitarist Nick Perri (Silvertide, Perry Farrell) handled riffs for the night and a backing track did the rest. Though, Harper’s singing voice is actually pretty good (makes ya wonder why they got Starr in the first place), the group’s mix of rock classics with choreographed hair-flips, butt bouncing and sexy costume changes felt too slick for the material. Hardcore rock fans like Nightranger need more grit when we hear guys or girls attempting to ride sacred cows like the Ramones, Stones and Led Zep. We prefer Chelsea Girls, whom D.S. played with at the Roxy recently. They’re just as hot, cover a lot of the same anthems and actually play their own instruments. Still, we actually dug the Darling’s original material on a pop level (necessary if they hope to have a real music career). From what we heard — and saw — Thursday, Stilettos should be a good fit for fans of the P. Dolls and Pink, etc. At the very least, this show would work well in Vegas. See the lovely ladies every Thursday, and catch Cinespace’s other new promo, Bohemian Shindig, an acoustic sound and art showcase in all three areas of the venue on Fridays.
SHOT THROUGH THE HEART
Thursday was thematically “rock & roll all night,” and our previous stop was the real deal: a photographic feast from noted photog Richard E. Aaron, who’s shot all the greats: Mick and Keith, Page and Plant, Bowie, Zappa and on and on. Put together by the Shooting Gallery’s Bobby Carlton and H.L.N.R. (the pricey Robertson Boulevard boutique and sister store to Sunset Plaza hot shop H. Lorenzo), this show featured never-before-seen photos of the above, and a bittersweet centerpiece: a haunting pic of a teenage Michael Jackson. Carlton’s Sunset Boulevard Shooting Gallery has been shuttered for a while now, but we hear he’ll be doing more exhibits and events at H.L.N.R, which comes complete with a spacious back lot. (Too bad we can’t afford anything in the store itself.) Seen reveling in the retail haven: designer Henry Duarte, rock offspring Sean Stewart (a shot of dad Rod was in the show), promoter Rich Royal (who sadly, had just come from the memorial of Wendell Green), recently departed, much beloved gatekeeper at the Roosevelt Hotel’s Teddy’s and Tropicana clubs) and Bluegirl art-maven Heidi Calvert. Calvert, in fact, had her own work at another show we attended last Saturday: Desolation Holiday at Ultrastar Studios. Exploring the contradictions of glamour, beauty and high fashion, this one featured dark and provocative portraits of singer Jeffrey Starr, actress Cybil Danning, and some of the city’s most-recognizable scenester vixens shot by Apollo Staar,Dan Santoni,Chad Michael Ward,Robin Perine, Saryn Christina, and Renard (Hanzo) Garr. Google these names to see their gorgeous work and check out LAWeekly.com for our seductive shots from the soiree.
HEAVY MARIACHI PARKING LOT
Al fresco fetes rank as faves right now for obvious reasons, but last Saturday’s debut of Chavolot, the parking-lot party put on by El Chavo restaurant in Silver Lake, was more caliente than your average outdoor shindig. A mad margaritaville and sangria-soaked fiesta, it offered food, booths doing free manis, pop-ups from Stories books and Origami Records, and live performances by Aztec dancers and most notably, Mariachi el Bronx, a cheeky, Mexican music incarnation of the rowdy local punk outfit The Bronx. Dressed in full mariachi gear and crooning songs about jail, quinceañeras (Chavolot’s theme), and Pablo Escobar, the horn-infused musica was good fun; romantic and even reverent at times. But though the heavily inked and pierced peeps in attendance seemed to love it in an ironic way, we found ourselves craving the visceral power of the original band by mid-set. When you’re tanked on tequila, sometimes mild sounds (kinda like chile) won’t do . you want burn-your-tongue-off hot! The next Chavolot should be pretty spicy all around; it’s during Sunset Junction (Aug. 22-23), after all. See www.elchavorestaurant.com for the announced lineups.