View more photos of The Mutaytor, Kibitz Room and MyHouse in Lina Lecaro's Nightranger slideshow.
After experiencing — via television — one of the most inspirational days in American history the Tuesday before last, many of us were eager to get the ya-yas out — and watching our new prez party and pop from ball to ball on CNN was not gonna cut it. Inauguration Day had about it an electric giddiness that was meant to be shared, and it’s safe to assume that nowhere — in L.A., anyway — had the convergence of costumes, cadence and kinetic energy seen at the Art of Change Inaugural Ball at The Mayan. The Mutaytor’s stage-packed electro-funk circus was the ultimate convivial spectacle, and for this performance, the troupe pulled out all the stops, with even more choreographed dance, aerialists, stilt walkers, belly and hoop dancers than ever before. Mutaytor’s eye candy never fails to entrance, but it’s the thunderous, tribal-rhythm-driven music (which includes three drum kits and several more single-person pounders) that brings the Burning Man jam-style bodaciousness to a furious boil. The dread-headed, horn-pierced neohippie contingents were done up in their Mad Max–iest finery, but this celebration wasn’t just a “burner” bash. Creative types of all colors, including electro-heads and lofty downtowners (in real ball gowns), came out for the party, too. As we bounced to closing act The Crystal Method with hundreds of uniquely garbed yet communally joyful Angelenos amid a flurry of giant waving American flags, trippy lights and shimmering disco balls, it hit us that no matter how “underground” or “alternative” you are, right now, it’s actually cool to be patriotic. Let’s hope that’s one thing that doesn’t change.
The vibe was no less celebratory at our next inaugural-eve pit stop, and — as happens when we’re turned on to a really special recurring shindig — we’re tempted to stay mum about it so as not to sully the scene’s organic mojo. But with the stellar music makers helming this one, the secret will be out soon enough. Canter’s on Fairfax is rockin’ again, and we’re not talking about Rodney Bingenheimer’s corner table at supper time (though his recent birthday bash did bring a parade of bands, including The Duke Spirit, to the deli). No, this time we’re touting the wonderfully crusty, photo-packed adjoining dive The Kibitz Room, which indie-rock newbies might know as the spot where The Kooks played a surprise gig last year. But its musical cachet goes much further back. The Wallflowers and The Vacation got their starts there, and the Tuesday-night jam parties of the early ’90s (where The Black Crowes and Slash famously popped in) were legendary. A few weeks ago, the free-form rock night was resuscitated by DJ/singer Morty Coyle and former Wallflower/current Foo Fighters keyboardist Rami Jaffee. (Nightranger fun fact: We went to junior high together, and were both honored in the class yearbook. Him: “Most Talented.” Us: “Best Personality.” Shout-out to John Burroughs alums!)
Jaffee started the jams a while after we knew him, when he was a Fairfax High student, and 18 years later they’re once again building steam, this time bringing together backing players from the bands of Chris Cornell, Amy Winehouse and Shakira, with a sprinkling of genetically blessed musical offspring Malik Pointer (Toledo Show) and Jordan Zevon, familiar multitalents Paul Ill, Rick Torres, Brad Watson and other former F.O.C.K.R.s (what the guys called themselves back in the day). Though the live aspect ceased in the early 2000s, many might remember when Coyle transformed Tuesdays there into a dance club called Wrasslemania with some DJ pals. It raged for several years afterward. Still, we’d missed the drunken house-party feel of its previous incarnation, which was definitely on display last week. The bar was a sweaty, melodious mess by midnight, and even when the band was sloppy it was better than most of what you’d see at the average rock club. Jaffee vaulted from “manning the lights” (flipping the switch near the door) to furiously fondling the keys, while Coyle crooned with vocal accompaniment from three backup cuties (and the crowd) on random rock and soul classics. With Jaffee’s roster of collabs, you never know who might pop in to play, as this thing really gets goin’ again, but for these guys, it’s not really about vanity jamming (à la Largo), big names or making money off hipster hordes (it’s free). If anything, it’s an escape from all that stuff, which, in some ways, is what killed the original party to begin with.
Like other swanky L.A. dance dwellings, MyHouse is brimming with bottle-service tables and babelicious waitresses (uniformed in morning-after looks: men’s white shirts, garter belts and not much else). But designer Dodd Mitchell’s sleek and sexy yet homey touches — like a real king-size bed, which every gal in the place seemed to pose on throughout the night — give it a cozy feel. The Hilton girls sure were getting comfy in the club’s more private crevices Friday, but we couldn’t help but notice the sideswept shag of the gal who won (?) the more famous sis’s friendship on MTV. Aspiring singer Brittany Flickinger was all alone, perpetually texting at a table near Nightranger’s posse all night — far away from the Hilz. Looks like that ho-mance is over.Sho nuff, we hear a new BFF (bimbo faker forever) show is already in the works.