Moby, Milagres, Mariachi El Bronx
KCRW Masquerade Ball
The Legendary Park Plaza
October 29, 2011
Better than…NPR member drives
Hordes of revelers streamed into the Legendary Park Plaza Hotel last night for KCRW's annual masquerade ball. Gold and crimson lights bounced off the ornately painted ceilings, giving the place a warm glow while psychedelic skeletons danced on the walls of the ballrooms.
The rich red carpets were soon littered with discarded drinks and trampled fake cash. (Someone was making it rain million dollar bills.) Outside food trucks hummed as guests perched on hay bales and noshed on assorted fried delights, trying desperately not to smear their ghoulish make up.
The sold out party was stuffed to the brim with those who were dressed to impress, varying from Puritan to exhibitionist and everything in between. The real focus of the evening was, however, the music.
Aside from KCRW's stellar radio DJs, they had put together a lineup with one part mysterious young upstarts (Milagres), one part hometown favorites (Mariachi El Bronx), and one part superstar DJ (Moby). The result was five ballrooms all pulsating to a different beat.
The first band to play was the young band from New York, Milagres, who took the stage disguised as old men. Hobbling on stage, the group shook their fists at the crowd grumpily and then launched into a conservative set. The piano heavy pop ballads filled the room as the crowd bopped politely to the beat. “It's so nice to play a show in your pajamas,” lead singer Kyle Wilson announced. This was apt because the set was about as daring as cardigan, but it was also as comforting as one. Soft and sugary, the twee melodies wrapped themselves around the dancers and lulled them into a quiet head nods of approval.
Downstairs in the Gold Room, a completely different party was happening. The ferocious Mariachi El Bronx took the stage in their signature charro suits and skeleton face paint. The former punk band reincarnated as a traditional mariachi band brought together some of the best parts of Los Angeles. Against swooping violins, heart pounding guitars and a bombastic horn section, lead singer Matt Caughthran held his own. Shaking with passion, he wrapped his fingers around the microphone and poured out his amorous woes.
Fragments of old movies danced on the walls as Mr. Incredible, at least eight Natalie Portmans-as-the-black-swan, and the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland got down in the middle of the dance floor with a horde of fairies and jazzercise ladies from the '80s. “For all of you on drugs, it's about to get real lucid,” Caughtran smiled. By the middle of the set, it was clear that anyone who was on serious hallucinogens would have to be carried out.
Upstairs the massive line to see Moby spin had spiraled out of control. No longer a line, a mob of partygoers pressed together in the tiny hallway with only one man holding them back. Fortunately that man was a member of the L.A. fire department, otherwise he would have been trampled for sure. Even drunken mobs respect a fireman apparently. People were pushing and shoving and selling their grandmothers to get to the front. It was such a mess that those who were trying to leave the party had to claw their way through the dancers anxious to get in.
Moby review below.
Once inside, the bass swallowed up all thought. There was nothing except the throbbing pulse and the dark sweaty mass of dancers. On a stage far in the distance Moby spun his techo magic from speakers that seemed to come from everywhere. It was every bit as debauched as one could hope, with all kinds of unsavory things happening in dark corners on red velvet couches.
Fleeing the mob, the night ended with the renowned KCRW DJs spinning in every room. Giving the sozzled crowd exactly what they wanted at the end of the night: room to dance and make out.
Personal bias: I'm a card carrying member of KCRW.
Overheard in the crowd: One fairy princess to a bandit “I've seen that man naked before. I've definitely seen that man naked before. I just can't remember where.”
Random Notebook Dump: God help anyone who was on drugs. I'm surprised there wasn't a ritual sacrifice.
Mariachi El Bronx Set list below.
More photos to follow including columnist Henry Rollins rocking out.