Imagine the knit-cap-wearing cuties who currently flock to Check Yo Ponytail and Cinespace Tuesdays, add a sprinkling of Weezer-esque Spaceland regulars, some gilded-Pro Nails-sporting hip-hop hotties, and throngs of taxidermied mammals, billion-year-old dinosaur fossils and rare gems and artifacts, and what do you get? A night at the museum, of course. But much wilder than that Ben Stiller flick. First Fridays at Natural History Museum kicked off last month with Sea Wolf, but it got real funky for February with A Trak (a.k.a. Kanye West's DJ) and Kid Sister last Friday. The eve of stimulation both intellectual (the night began early with scholars discussing mammal brain development) and aural (shocker: More came for that part) was so crowded by the time A Trak got on the decks, a line snaked around the museum just to get into the room where he spun. It wasn't moving when we left either. Luckily, Dublab's Frosty and Tak jammed it in the African Mammal Room across the hall, where tasty gourmet grub was available (the line for that was almost as long). All the gnawing amid animals was positively primal. So was A Trak's bangin' turntable performance, which had the trendy tribes jumping (even without the surprise Kanye appearance many were hoping for — he showed up and surprised the crowd at A and Kid's NYC museum show a few weeks ago, so it wasn't out of the question). And in case you're wondering, boogying at the NHM isn't new; Fatboy Slim had peeps prancing like primates there a few years ago and we've been to a few supersauced wedding receptions there over the years. Spaceland Productions is booking the bands for First Fridays, and the bones are sure to rattle even more in the next few months: Why? and Yacht play March and Autolux and (appropriately named) Deerhoof gallop in for June. Our kinda field trips.

Lina Lecaro

Sweater vests kept the Bravery warm at Crash Mansion.

Lina Lecaro

A Trak ponders mammal brain development at the museum.

Lina Lecaro

A serious old-schooler

Papa's Brand-New Tag 


Nightranger's not usually fond of graffiti or street art, but there's something about the British approach to the genre that tickles our fancy. Banksy's nothing's-sacred art statements have made him an international superstar, but his Bristol, England, mate Nick Walker is an equally skilled master of irony. After popping into “Pretty Decorating,” Walker's first ever L.A. solo exhibit at the Carmichael Gallery on La Brea, to check the scene last Saturday, we left wishing we could've afforded one of his works (prices were in the thousands). The pieces all centered around a derby-hat-wearing “vandal” who splatters vibrant multicolored paint on iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building and our own Hollywood sign ( limited-edition prints of that one were a big seller Saturday, of course), and they managed to be clean and stark yet provocative and rebellious all at the same time. 21st Century Presidents, featuring four of Hollywood's most vapid starlets' heads imposed on Mount Rushmore, was also a hit, though the Lindsay Lohan head looked like Paul McCartney, an observation even the artist's pals agreed with us on. Apparently Walker changed that one's title a few times, going from Waste of Space (our fave) to Stoners before settling on the Prez reference. With the artist's two adorable daughters roaming about, plus a gaggle of collector types, and even a dog, this party was actually pretty civilized for a “street art” show. Still, the Vandal won't be bidding adieu to L.A. without leaving his cheeky mark: Walker's famed, butt-baring Moona Lisa stencil is adorning a wall somewhere near La Brea, free for all to enjoy … at least at press time.

Crash and Bump


Sean Patrick's always-happening Temporary Spaces on Fountain hosted the Walker after-party, but we had a mansion to go to later that night — Crash Mansion, that is. Though they've been throwing lively events there for a few months now, last Saturday marked the official grand opening of the New York-based club's L.A. offshoot downtown with a performance by The Bravery, and it was a bold beginning band-wise. The group offered a spirited set of dancey rock, including reinterpretations of hits from last year's The Sun and The Moon, from a forthcoming release creatively titled The Sun and the Moon Complete. The reworkings gave us a total eclipse of the heart about the band, which we've always kinda thought of as Duran Duran — or, worse (better?), Interpol — wannabes. They didn't just stand there swaying and looking pretty, but ripped and shook and dripped (the sweater vests didn't help matters in that department). As for the roomy venue, we hear somebody got shot out front not too long ago, but we still feel safer here than at many Hollywood clubs (the beefy security guards everywhere didn't hurt, though). We predict the dimly lit front lounge area will be just as popular as the big room, with weekly DJ dance parties and even more poppin' after the main stage acts play, such as this Friday, when the Brand New Heavies and Soul II Soul's Caron Wheeler bring neosoul back to life for a Grammy Party.

Speaking of dance bashes, we finally got our butt out to Bootie LA at The Echo late last Saturday, and though we missed punk legend Howie Pyro's new project The Illuminoids (sample monster mash-up on their MySpace: “Lugosi's Mongoloid,” a blending of Beck, Devo and Bauhaus), we still had a blast. DJ Paul V had the very mixed crowd (rockers and ravers in everything from corsets to conch belts to crochet) completely spastic, especially during the electro and rock smashers. Take it from us, Bootie has one of the best club vibes out there right now, hands down (and up in the air like ya just don't care).

Click here for more of Lina Lecaro's photos from Nightranger.

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