Licensed to Ill

Some advice for our fellow nightlifers out there this cold season: Don’t pucker up — not even faux cheek style — for pals when ya see ’em out and about (and, it goes without saying, no making out with some random club cutie). Don’t sample someone else’s cocktail no matter how good a friend it is or how fruity-delicious the drink might look. And, most important, take Airborne before attempting to get yer ya-yas out at crowded clubs, smoker-and-toker–packed parties or dance-fiend music festivals! No, we’re not getting a kickback from the teacher-invented drugstore remedy. Nightranger’s been battling a bug (there’s always one “going around” this time of year, ain’t there?) ever since the Neighborhood Music Festival at Exposition Park a couple of weeks ago, and we’d like to spare you our pain, dear devoted readers.

The Dim Mak–sponsored outdoor music fest was such a blast it was almost worth the brutal booger nights afterward. Yes, it was the ultimate hipster prance-a-thon (the Unabomber look — Ray-Ban sunglasses and printed hoodies — is more ubiquitous than ever), and the VIP section was more crowded per square inch than the event itself, but musically, it was quite the marvelous mixer. The fest spotlighted the best electro-fied indie acts, with a minimum of over-hyped flacks (Nightranger quite enjoyed current MTV darlings Chromeo, even if music snobs we chatted with compared ’em to bad porn funkers or, worse, Men Without Hats) and solidified retro/electro mash-core as the sound of the moment. Anthemic early-’80s rock bludgeoned into ’70s disco on the decks (DJ AM, Steve Aoki). Nasty ’80s hip-hop and pop culture–damaged rock-chick shtick (Spank Rock with Amanda Blank and Santo Gold). New wave and techno gloom and boom (The Faint). Seventies twang and ’tude meshed with hip-hop (Mickey Avalon).

The grass- and dirt-covered grounds in front of the main stage definitely looked dance floor–esque during most of the after-dark performances, and the vibe was playful and dance-happy, especially during Spank Rock’s smutty raps about Hoochie Mamas and Lindsay Lohan (the “Put Your Panties On” song). The crew even invited the entire crowd to their after-party at a house in Echo Park, repeatedly chanting the address at the close of the set (parking was sure to be a bitch, so we passed).

Alas, hell-raisin’ at the Hood and the hack attacks that followed kept us from enjoying other fest-ful events (Swerve Festival the next day, and just this past weekend, the Eagle Rock Music Festival and the Weekly’s own Detour). Luckily, you can read all about the latter in the Considerable Town section of this week’s paper.

Wondrous Woman

We may not have been up to getting wild in the streets with thousands of strangers, but a more intimate musical experience, such as that of Madame Pamita’s Parlour of Wonders at Taix last Wednesday, was just what the witch doctor ordered. The madame is the latest performing persona of Pam Utterback, former Neptunas bassist and creator of the all-girl Cheap Trick tribute band Cheap Chick, and though the songs she’s doing now may not be as raucous, they are definitely just as crowd-pleasing. The mystically tinged show features Pamita giving audience members an onstage tarot-card reading followed by a lo-fi, old-timey cover or original tune that relates to its meaning (“I’m in Love With a Girl” by Big Star for the two-of-cups card, “Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Calloway for the moon card). The latter may be about a druggie, but damn, it’s fun to sing along to, and after some gentle prompting from our hostess, everyone in the bar did just that. It was soothing and soulful. So was the midset guest accompaniment by Patrick Weise (of the ukulele duo Ukelear Winter), who played an even stranger instrument: a handsaw.

More surprises and curiosities are promised at Madame P.’s upcoming gigs: Tequila Mockingbird’s night of vaudeville and burlesque called Club Fluffer at Hyperion Tavern on October 11 and 25, at the “Grand Ole” Echo on October 28, and, for Day of the Dead, a special salon of the supernatural featuring “puppet manipulations, epicurean delights” and more at the Olvera Street coffeehouse Casa de Sousa October 30–November 2. Her Wednesday Taix residency continues through October 24, and we predict fun and good fortune for all who attend.

Snappy and Snazzy

Starving rockers may not be able to afford the sumptuous suits at the John Varvatos Store on Melrose and Robertson, but they’ll still want to pop in. Iconic rock-star style is all over the shop’s walls right now, thanks to Varvatos pal and legendary band photog Jim Marshall, who unveiled some classic shots at an opening party in the store a couple of weeks ago, bringing out the likes of actor Brad Rowe, hotel bar king Rande Gerber and former Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom, not to mention Marshall himself signing copies of his book Not Fade Away. After viewing the candid celluloid of Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones (during the recording of Exile on Main Street!), this fan of all his subjects just had to ask: Who was the wildest band you’ve shot? “The Stones,” he said without a blink. “But Zeppelin trashed more hotel rooms.” Needless to say, taking his photo was nerve-racking, and judging by his impatience with our flash flurries, he obviously prefers being behind the lens — he even shot us while we shot him. An honor, obviously, but did he capture our inner Janis? We’ll never know. See the exhibit through October 16.

LA Weekly