View more photos in Lina Lecaro's slideshow, “Nightranger: Smashing Pumpkins, The New Erotic, Viper Vixens (NSFW).”
“I love you all, but I'm too old for this shit.” Such were the parting words of Billy Corgan at Smashing Pumpkins' intimate tour warm-up at the Viper Room last week, but the smoldering set his band dished out before leaving the stage proved the last part of that statement couldn't be further from the truth. Harnessing the heavy, hypnotic rhythms from the new lineup, Corgan seemed, in fact, renewed and enthused most of the night.
So why the riled climax? Near the end of the set, a couple of smart-ass hecklers in VIP interrupted Corgan's ukelele number (yes, ukelele) with shout-outs for “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” There was chatter, too, and back-and-forth shushing. It all proved too distracting. The crowd — hardcore fans in Pumpkins tees, and a rockstar posse that included Perry Farrell and Matt Sorum — missed out on planned closers “Today” and “Freak” according to the set list. Thanks, douche bags.
To be fair, the yelling did seem good-natured and, really, it was difficult to come down after the blitzed-out, often metallic renditions the band laid down (the current line-up including bassist Nicole Fiorentino, drummer Mike Byrne and returning guitarist Jeff Schroeder) before Corgan's little low-fi indulgence. The thunderous “United States” (off of 2007's Zeitgeist) preceded the uke, and old faves like “Ava Adore,” “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” “Cherub Rock” and “Hummer” (the Siamese Dream-er may be our favorite S.P. song of all time) were instrumentally spot-on.
Corgan's vocals were also the best we've heard them in a while, and he gave us both the airy murmur and the sinister warble his best tunes always call for. And he obviously enjoyed it, smiling a lot (dimples!) and chatting in between numbers. His recollection about “Perfect” actually foreshadowed the show's abrupt climax: “The first time I ever played this song live was here [at the Viper Room],” he recalled. “If you hear the bootleg it's all L.A. people talking. But it's about L.A., so it's fitting.” Yes it is, Billy. Yes it is.
Plastic perfection, fame-whores, self-centered concert-goers . . . We encounter it all while patrolling this city after dark, and just when we too start to feel “too old for this shit,” our faith gets restored. This was the case everywhere we went last Friday night.
La Luz de Jesus Gallery's latest group show opening was packed as always, even if many in the house didn't know that one of the artists featured was rock & roll royalty: Frances Bean Cobain, showing under the pseudonym Fiddle Tim. The work was built around a drawing titled “Scum Fuck” that portrayed punk's ultimate attention-grabbing provocateur — no, not her mom; GG Allin. Everything sold out immediately and it's as dark and subtextual as one might expect from the 17-year-old spawn of Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain. Allin's extroverted persona in particular seems an ironic subject contrast to the artist's anonymity (we wonder if she'll use a new alias for future shows). Creepy, clean-lined and a bit campy, the notebook collection marks a promising debut. Though it's all snatched up, you can view it in the gallery through August 1.
We love it when we don't have to traipse all over town, and the premiere party for noted local filmmaker Ramzi Abed's documentary, The New Erotic, was an easy-breezy hop up Sunset, at Silver Lake's newest art hub The Department of Flying Vehicles. The venue was created by Collision Fest (Bizarrmy and the Engine Theaterpeeps) but Abed's punky-pornocopia brought out a decidedly different crowd than seen at previous parties: less bearded bohemians and burners, and more tatted sexpots and pervy nerd types. The actors and producers featured in the film are all pretty “normal” looking, however, and their kinky ideas and fetishistic tendencies are expressed on film rather than in their personal style. The doc itself is a revealing look at the creators of “alt-porn” — what inspires them (music is huge), what turns them on (the list is huge), their process, and so forth. Maybe a few too many crotch close-ups, but in all, a fascinating exploration of adult entertainment's artful indie movement, and the backlash against mainstream hardcore's phony set-ups and über-fake beauty ideals.
The after-party entertainment could've been performance art, but unfortunately it wasn't: adult stars Jayme Langford (a Dave Navarro ex) and Jana Jordan's as Pajamaband (coincidentally, self-described as a cross between “My Little Pony and GG Allin”) whose shtick involves vapid Paris Hilton–like banter, subpar playing and lactating boobies (Jordan just had a baby). We left before they went on, but a YouTube video of the night's set proved just as bad as this all sounds. These girls suck in more ways than one, but who cares? Not porn fans, obviously. Check 'em out “rehearsing” via Webcam twice a week at pajamabandcam.com.
While train-wreckishly intriguing, the spectacle of topless chicks tumbling over one another to a mangled version of “Talk Dirty to Me” was no contest when pitted against one of our all-time favorite L.A. garage bands, which happened to be playing at El Cid. As we've written before, after 20 years, the Hangmen still rock, and now it looks like Brian Small's collab with Supersuckers' Ron Heathman has even yielded some gritty new material. Shockingly, Club L.A.M.F., where they played along with revvin' rockers Sin Alley, wasn't packed to the gills, but this was definitely a quality over quantity shindig: fun, superfriendly, and capped off by a spicy striptease from Cinnamon Britches. Check Sin Alley's Myspace for info on the next one, and El Cid's own Web site for deets on all the venue's new offerings: Zombience (an undead “improvatorium” on July 11) and Heino's Happy Hour Variety Show, produced by Lucha Va Voom and the Red Lion's beloved German jive-ster (July 28).