View more photos in Lina Lecaro's slideshow, “Nightranger: Parties at Cat Club, Cannonball at Drai's, Kelis & Robyn at Music Box.”
The Summer tour co-headlined by Kelis and Robyn is called “All Hearts,” but Friday night, when the tempestuous twosome thumped and pumped it up at The Music Box, it was more like, “all boys” — the ratio of male to female appearing to be about 90 percent (gay) male and 10 percent female. The place was a pit of mostly pretty, perspiring young men, and, it was the freshest, sweetest-smelling sweatpit we've been in. As one well-groomed hottie told us while we waited for what felt like an eternity for a drink (note to Music Box honchos: Open more than one measly bar for big shows), “smelling good is important to us gays.”
He was stereotyping of course, but there are certain things you can expect from the gay dance club, which The Music Box totally resembled Friday: giddy atmosphere, sassy moves, sing-alongs and flamboyant visuals.
Kelis might be best known for her vampy image during the “Milkshake” era and for being half of hip-hop royalty, but Nas' ex has definitely reinvented herself for a new audience with her latest release, Fleshtone, and stage show (debuted to L.A. audiences during Gay Pride in WeHo last month). She's giving the kind of Lady Gaga–proven glitz and electro-dance blitz that appeal most to nonstraight males, though with less obvious pop appeal and a more euphoric techno feel.
While Kelis' boy-bump allure seems fairly new, Robyn has always been a fave in the circuit, and her evolution has unquestionably been for the better. She was just another Euro-pop tart back in the '90s. Her hit, “Show Me Love” was schmaltzy fun at best. Don't confuse it with that other Robin's soulful disco anthem “(You've Got To) Show Me Love”. The latest stuff (off Body Talk, Part 1 and Part 2, the second to be released in September) is beat-filled bliss bursting with futuristic-pop nuggets that could/should be as big as anything Gaga's ever released.
After moving in a more snappy-rappy direction on her self-titled '08 release (highlights of which included an inspired cover of the Teddybears “Cobrastyle” and the blippy, baddass “Konichiwa Bitches”), we think she put herself on par with the likes of Peaches, Gwen Stefani and M.I.A. “Dancehall Queen,” a tropical groove track she pulled out Friday, was produced by Diplo and it was just announced that Pt. 2, will have the obligatory Snoop Dogg collab. Gaga-like pop icon status seems one megahit (or mega-tour) away, but after the passionate response we saw on Friday, it appears both ladies scored gay love and dance divadom well before “All Hearts” even began.
WHAT'S NEW, PUSSYCAT?
A decidedly more girl-crazy crowd greeted us later at the Cat Club, where the night's lineup included two comely chick bands: Butcher Babies and Big in Japan. Missed BBs, but we hear the house was packed for the industrial punkettes. (And why not? They perform in little more than strategically placed black electrical tape). B.I.J. (not to be confused with the U.K. all-stars of the same name) featured dressed-but-equally-hot dames doing synchronized dance moves and crooning synth-laden new-wave hits. Even when a couple of the tunes sounded slightly karaoke-ish, we liked 'em better than the current crop of female cover groups.
The Cat Club is now being helmed by L.A. club legend Dayle Gloria, who's taken over as talent buyer and manager, sprucing up both its interior and exterior. Gloria booked seminal rock club Scream (Nightranger's first club experience!) and the Club With No Name, plus every venue on the Strip (at the Viper Room she promoted a little band called Metal Shop — later to become tribute juggernaut Steel Panther). She's also redone the Cat Club's back patio area, where she now hosts free “Pitcher Perfect” BBQs and beer busts every Sunday afternoon. She's created a diverse bill of rock for the upcoming Sunset Strip Music Festival. See thecatclubonsunset.com for club info and links to this year's three-day SSMF extravaganza, on Aug. 26-28.
HIDE & FREAK
Belated birthday greetings go out to two of L.A.'s most unlikely scene studs: Mark the Cobrasnake and Jim Freek, both of whom held babe filled bashes in Hollywood recently, and subsequently, helped this reporter discover some hidden after-dark gems. Freek, head of groovy indie label, Teenacide Records, brought out a colorful crowd to The Wafflerestaurant on Sunset, which, unbeknownst to us until the party, has an upstairs bar serving “bottomless” margaritas and Bloody Mary's for 12 bucks. Great place to get stuffed and soaked.
Mark the shuttersnake's shindig was slightly more insane, as it took place on the roof of Drais' nightclub, at the new Sunday Dim Mak party called Cannonball. Yes, the drinks are way overpriced here but if you still haven't checked out Drais and you're looking for the least douche-specked night to do so, this might be it. It's actually a great one to observe the biggest cross-section of clubber “types” anywhere: fake-looking bimbos mixed with gawky-hip natural beauties, punky pierced dudes partying with hip-hoppish baller types, plus random Hollywood riffraff.
The b-day bash (one of four events the Snake held last week) featured a performance by Mickey Avalon — as always, his set was a hot mess. Drinks were spilled, toes were smashed and tables were trampled.
Oh, and in case you're wondering: The secret spot at Drais is an uber-opulent red-hued room behind a curtain near the entrance (there's also a door on Argyle). It probably won't remain on the DL for long now that DJ Samantha Ronson is spinning and hosting on Cannonball nights. The secret on how to get into her powwow, well, that's another story.