TOM TOM CLUB
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DJ Sneak's brand of Chicago bootyhouse impresssed the Standard crowd
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Apparently Tom Morello has a few musician friends.
“Feed the poor, fight the power and rock the fuck out!” Tom Morello told us this will be the unofficial slogan for his Justice Tour (a seven-city all-star jam he created to help various worthy causes around the country), and he wasn’t kidding. The tour’s L.A. kickoff at the Troubadour last Tuesday saw a nonstop procession of power players in surreal jamming combos, the apex of which might have been when Slash, Dave Navarro, Perry Farrell, Flea, Stewart Copeland, Pete Yorn, Steve Vai, Wayne Kramer and Morello all joined in for “Rockin’ in the Free World” … or maybe it was when Travis Barker, Davey Havok and many of the above tackled Madonna’s “4 Minutes” with Morello singing the chorus (seriously!). … You may have heard about the guitarist’s previous Nightwatchmen jams at Hotel Café (which included Alanis Morrisette, Mick Mars, Ben Harper and Serj Tankian, to name a few), like us, the day after, which was just a bummer. (Kinda like those recent surprise Prince shows we missed around town!) We got to chat with Morello before this big one, though, and he told us he hopes to outdo himself with the tour, during which many of the above will pop up at various stops to take the stage with other surprise superstars. Newbie Boston band State Radio have the privilege of being on the tour as well, and when we chatted with them, they were understandably awed. “He talks the talk and walks the walk,” they said of Morello. Sure does. The band actually joined him and Kramer for a tour at the PATH homeless shelter downtown (the charity of choice Tuesday), and each gig will include on-site visits to that city’s benefiting organizations the day before.
Chatting with Slash proved more difficult; he was surprisingly shy, and even asked to check the photo we took of him, which we later realized was sans his trademark top hat and shades — worn onstage later, of course. The Troub’s VIP loft level served as the holding area for the megamusicians, and it was interesting to observe how each gravitated toward different corners of the room (Barker, with his baseball-capped posse, near the bar; the Janes dudes and Flea near the restroom; Havok hangin’ on a couch at the opposite end with Tigerarmy’s Nick 13). There may not have been a lot of intermingling backstage, but on it was a different story. Magical moments during the nearly four-hour grind-a-thon included Navarro and Farrell’s ferocious rendition of “Mountain Song,” Barker and Copeland’s awkward trading of the sticks in between tunes, B-Real’s doobie-puffin’ party rap on House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” and Morello’s heartfelt rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” (after pretty much all the other rock gods had left), with passionate emphasis on these “censored” lyrics: Near the relief office — I see my people/And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’/if this land’s still made for you and me.
More politically minded partying (well, sorta) was in order Sunday, which marked the tokin’ holiday known as 4-20 (the penal code for pot smoking in progress, and for some — you know who you are — a daily afternoon ritual). Nightranger decided to check out an outdoor smoke fest on the rooftop of The Standard Downtown, where Traffic Events hosted its 4-20 shindig with DJ Sneak. But with so many security guards roaming about, the only smokin’ goin’ was Sneak’s funked-up and ferocious set (the parking lot was a different story, though). The beat smith is known as an innovator in the Chicago house scene, and his set Sunday mixed tribal rhythms, Latin flavors and disco crescendos, an intoxicating blend that had the sexy ladies and Euro-trashtastic fellas rollicking all over the rooftop. Don’t think we’ve ever seen so many designer sunglasses in one place at one time! It may have been a moneyed crowd, but it was one of the friendliest we’ve freaked with — especially up there — in a long time. … Though we were too burnt out to go to the other 4-20 party on our calendar, across town at Safari Sam’s (Rock City News’ bash with Green Jello, Rosemary’s Billygoat and pot pinup Drettie Page — we can only imagine the head trip that one probably was), we got our fill of wacky theatricality earlier that week when we caught The Eye-Podz there. Dressed all in white with the digital-music player’s signature wheel on their chests, the cover band let you pick their set via www.myspace.com/theeyepodz every week, and the night we attended, it was extremely ’80s-heavy, with the fun enhanced by raucous repartee from MC Jeffrey Damnit (not coincidentally, formerly of Bring Your Own Fucking iPod night at Saints and Sinners). The night, dubbed Virtual Tuesdays, is sponsored by P.I.N.K. vodka and features a Guitar Hero contest and one local or touring band each week. Now if they could just come up with a way to make the whole thing shuffle.
Nightranger’s quest to cover an incongruent cross-section of L.A. led us back to the velvet ropes at The Roosevelt Hotel last week, a site where we weren’t exactly welcomed warmly upon our last visit. But Thursday, the staff at Dakota restaurant in the hotel were more than affable, and even more surprising, Danny Masterson’s Fat Sam’s Grand Slam later at Teddy’s was an A-list affair minus the attitude. Top-notch jazz session players sweated it up onstage, and the encouraged dress code (ties for guys, dresses for gals) definitely makes the atmosphere classy yet sassy. Of course, superfamous ones Jay-Z and Usher, who strolled by us at one point, can don whatever they like. The pair didn’t join the jazzsters onstage, but other well-known artists have (John Mayer regularly sits in), and it seems the torch/songs that got lit at Masterson’s Kid’s Cotton Club at Guy’s are shining just as bright at his new home. In addition to the weekly event, the actor/DJ (a.k.a. Mom Jeans) will be hosting Indie 103.1’s Coachella Bash this weekend. Look for reports from that party, plus all the desert dirt we can dig up next week.