Posts Tagged ‘Arts and Entertainment


Party Party Party: Monday to Monday!

All Right Reserved Billy Bennight Photography

Living in LA has its advantages and this week here’s my accounting of cool things that happened. I’m a big fan of being active during the week because it offers smaller crowds, eliminates amateurs and offers greater intimacy with new acquaintances and friends alike. The larger the event the less promising the possibilities has been my experience. This will be a regular occurring write up in my Extravagant Behavior blog.

Monday found me at the Residence of  Belgium for drinks and bites mixed with a cultural and history lesson from the Consul General of Belgium, Henri Vantieghem, sponsored by The Los Angeles Press Club. The dress recommended for the evening was “Smart Casual” and I found myself in Hancock Park outside the residence with a smart look around 5 pm. Henri welcomed all of us in a formal and cordial way. He spent roughly 20 minutes informing us of the interesting history that precipitated the state of Belgium and offered highlights on what makes his country unique in European history.

After his insightful and enlightening talk, we were all invited to the garden and pool area of the residence for beautifully presented light bites and beverages that reflect Belgian culture and tastes. From the bar, I chose the Chimay presented in a Chimay branded glass that gave a beer drinkers thrill. The was a cauliflower and almond soup presented in a shot glass, baked mussels with herbs and tasty brazed steak cubes. I had a number of interesting discussions with various attendees where I languidly moved from porch to poolside. On my second visit to the bar, I happened to run into Mario-Max Prinz Zu Schaumburg-Lippe as I was about to order my next Belguin beer. It had been a while since I saw him last. We engaged in pleasantries and our mutual interest in red carpet events. Of course, Prince Mario-Max is often on the other side and the subject of the red carpet step and repeat activities. After that, I returned to my poolside table to continue my talk about men with women. There are opinions and secrets women will share with a sympathetic male that most men will never hear because they are too busy being “men” being. Often while being “men” they never negotiate subtle and nuanced conversations well and rarely take other’s feelings or thoughts into consideration. For a while, we enjoyed fresh air at dusk for a fleeting hour. It was a satisfying end in this phase of my evening.

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My next move was to the private media parté at HATCH Yakitori + Bar at The Bloc in DTLA for some progressive Japanese cuisine. I arrived in my Lyft to the side of the main entrance of The Bloc. There’s this staircase you can slip through and descend via an escalator HATCH Yakitori that ovoids prying eyes for a discreet entrance and exodus from the establishment. I arrived in a quiet seductive manner and the festivities were in full swing when checked in. Inside it was crowded, buzzy and energized with foodie frivolities with bites and beverages, cameras and phones mounted to capture moments to flood the eyes with food ecstasy and cocktail provocations. Over at the end of the bar was Executive Chef Daniel Shemtob, under amber heat lamps, with torch in hand searing the special A5 Nigiri Wagyu Beef on a bed of sticky rice. Chef Daniel set ablaze those tasty morsels of expensive and beautifully marbled Japanese beef for everyone who made it to this grand performance of culinary excellence nestled at The Bloc in DTLA. Fire, food, and libations dominated the rest of my evening that included these menu items: Hamachi, Avo Tuna Toast, Agedashi Tofu, Black Karaage Chicken, Chicken Meatball with Egg Yolk Stick, Thigh and Green Onion Stick, Mushroom Party Stick, Pee Wee Potato Stick, and Pork Belly Stick. These delicious bites were paired off with a curated Sake List, selected premium Japanese Whiskeys, and various Japanese Beers. Of all of these goodies, I had the Chicken Meatball with Egg Yolk Stick, Mushroom Party Stick, Pork Belly Stick, and A5 Nigiri Wagyu Beef. These bites were interspersed with cocktail moments like the Matcha Highball, Mangorita and 2 different shots of Saki: one was unfiltered in a pearl-ish white and the other clear. Both were not aged and were delicious. The Chicken Meatball with Egg Yolk Stick was pure Japanese ecstasy and A5 Nigiri Wagyu Beef “TDF”! Towards Chef Daniel shared his thoughts and aspirations for HATCH Yakitori and the experience he hoped people would enjoy when coming to drink and dine there.

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Nervous Gender, The Dead Beats and Human Hands at the Bluestar

What was once the avant-garde is now the old garde but this doesn’t diminish the heat that Nervous Gender can generate as they proved last Saturday night when capping the night off with a line  up of bands that included: The Deadbeats and Human Hands. While Kraftwerk may have started the synthesizer movement , it must be said, Nervous Gender gave synthesizer music teeth. The bite Nervous Gender brought to the music arena defined what is now considered Synthpunk, Queercore and is foundational to what would be considered Industrial/Industrial Dance music today. I caught Nervous Gender for the first time at the Part TIme Punks Music Festival in 2008. I had wanted to see them for years and I was joyous to finally lock them in that night. I was impressed by their performance and gratified to finally hear such a legendary LA Punk play live.

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I’ve seen many shows at the Blue Star downtown. It’s a diner with tasty beers on tap and caters to the alternative/Punk crowd. After all it is a perfect fit. A bar on the inside with table seating to keep it on the DL and then there’s the outside patio with seating, a grill and a stage. A bit like the Echo patio but it’s a diner with big glass widows so you don’t miss any of the action. In other words you can view the band from the bar! For this night and for this line up brought out the nucellus, the core of the core, of the late 70’s and 80’s Los Angeles Punk Rock scene. Some in attendance was were Henry Peck, Lisa Riley, Lisa Murry, Bert Ferguson, Josie Roth, Debora Ballantine Ballabio, Ronald Schnier, Duchess De Sade and of course all the band member and a host of others churning in the midst of the Blue Star patio.

I had made it in time to catch Human Hands’ performance. A band that Bruce Licher of Savage Republic had release through his IPR Label (Independent Project Records) during the 80’s. I had produced and promoted a concert featuring Savage Republic at Backdoor at SDSU and this connection with Bruce Licher of Savage Republic and IPR introduce me to both Human Hands and Camper Van Beethoven. Human Hands was another band that I hadn’t caught traction on the first time around and I was eager to see them.  Thankfully, they were up first. Human Hands are a Punk band of guitars and rhythm section, that is more of a product of late 70’s sensibilities that don’t closely relate to Southern California’s early 80’s Hardcore scene. Thinking of Human Hands’ they are closer to Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ Blank Generation, than to Black Flag’s Rise Above. The crowd had gone from laid back to pumped as Human Hands mounted the stage. They delivered a beefy set that kept everyone on their toes engaged and dancing. They closed out the their set with “Sensible Guy” though there were calls for more of what was rocking the crowd.

The Deadbeats followed and the crowd became even more excited with this seminal Los Angeles Punk Rock band. As I fell back and listened I realized, they were more closely associated with the likes of Wall of Voodoo or Oingo Boingo. Quirky riffs, odd time signatures with stilted vocalizations and phrasing. The Deadbeats were a good fit for Nervous Gender. They blended well as a style bridge between them and Human Hands. They were somewhere in the middle of both bands styles.

Nervous Gender was on last, under the dark canopy of a midnight sky wrapped in stage lighting on Bluestar’s patio. After a steady stream of seminal LA Punk Rock we were now to be treated to a band as bedrock in importance as that of say, Tomato Du Plenty’s Screamers. Edward Stapleton dressed in black and with a more filled out band than any previous incarnation of Nervous Gender, I have seen, hit the stage like a prowling caged tiger. That is no surprise since they are a seminal Punk Rock ensemble. The set was tight as Edward and crew launched in to song after song of an eight song set. Starting off with “Monster”. Delivering the coup de grâce with “Fat Cow” that would put in Kraut Industrial Rocker to a test for authenticity and pedigree. Edward delivered till the very end, utilizing all the musical energy of Nervous Gender had in its reserve with inspired angst killed it by leveling the audience with “Gestalt”. The aftermath was a crowd that got what they came for and left happily after passing through the turbine like nexus of Nervous Gender’s raw delivery of angst driven Proto-Synthpunk.

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