We Caught Hi-Fashion at L.A. Pride

It was sometime late in the afternoon or early in the evening. My friend Tony and I had spent the whole day wandering around L.A. Pride, where I was working on a story for L.A. Weekly. We were tired and sunburn and about ready to make the long haul by foot back to Astroburger, where we told my husband to pick us up at the end of the day. We were trudging through the grass, maneuvering our way in between crowds of people. I stopped.

That song.

There was a girl on stage dropping verse after verse about all the problems you incur when people confuse you for Madonna. I know, it’s rough, especially when…

“I’m not Madonna. I’m not Madonna.”

The girl on stage had backup dancers. They were moving together, not quite vogueing, but heading into some sort of structured formation.

We stayed put for the whole song, swaying our exhausted bodies back and forth to the beat. At the end, we agreed, this was a jam.

Hi-Fashion is Rick Gradone and Jen DM. They are from L.A. They apparently have played Mustache Mondays. They also recently raised a bunch of funds on Kickstarter for a new EP.

I don’t know why I have never heard them before today. They sound so much like what I would have played back when I was DJing at The Parlour. They are fantastic.

The clip above is “I’m Not Madonna” from a performance at Mustache Mondays. Hope you like it too.

More from Pride:

“When Gay Meets Geek” (for L.A. Weekly)
L.A. Pride photos

When Daft Punk Turned Coachella Into Comic-Con

When people talk about the “Comic-Con Effect,” usually, they mean it terms of movies getting a big boost from their high-profile appearance at the San Diego convention. In fact, here’s an article from Deadline asking whether or not the movies that get all the buzz at the convention actually benefit from it in the theaters. That’s not how I see the Comic-Con Effect.

Comic-Con’s influence on pop culture goes far beyond the convention itself, far beyond comic books, television or film. That said, the actual Comic-Con Effect is when the sort of big-budget marketing techniques that overrun the convention seep into other industries, other events.

That happened last night at Coachella. I wasn’t there. Ultimately, I’m glad I wasn’t there because I detest the desert. For a moment, though, I felt a pang of remorse when a friend shared a video of the video that played on one of the big screens in the middle of a polo field. A trailer for the new Daft Punk album had been unveiled. Even back in L.A., watching a video of a video on YouTube, I couldn’t help but totally nerd out.

I go to San Diego Comic-Con every year. Although I no longer go to Coachella, I’ve been to the event so many times that I can’t remember who I saw which year. They are very different events. At Comic-Con, you wait for hours to get a chair in a room so that you and a couple thousand other people can start screaming over a new trailer or other teaser footage. At Coachella, you wait in line for hours so that your skin can fry while you’re running to catch favorite bands who will always be playing up against each other on opposite sides of the field.

But then Daft Punk– arguably the nerdiest duo to ever make dance music– changed that. They captured the crowd in Indio and online with a trailer. A freakin’ trailer.

That’s the Comic-Con Effect in action.

I’m a pretty big Daft Punk fan. If you read my webcomic, Los Animales, you probably know that. Every time Daft Punk pulls a new stunt, I love them more. After seeing the video of last night’s trailer, I’m more excited for Random Access Memories than I thought I could be and it’s not solely because of the music. The only way the music industry can thrive in this era is if they borrow the marketing techniques of the fan convention world. Daft Punk obviously knows that and, for that reason, Radom Access Memories deserves to be a blockbuster. Daft Punk knows the future of music marketing and it’s up to them to show others the way.


Amanda Palmer to Play Purple Rain on New Year’s Eve in New York

Just got this press release and can think of a few people who will want to know all the details. Amanda Palmer is playing on New Year’s Eve at Terminal 5 in New York City. Here’s all the pertinent information in bullet point form.

  • Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra will be playing Prince’s landmark album Purple Rain. The whole album.
  • Palmer and the band will also be playing a set unrelated to Prince’s album, including music from Theatre is Evil.
  • Jherek Bischoff and Simple Pleasure are opening.
  • There’s also a “super secret guest.” Let the guessing games begin.
  • In the press release, Palmer offers this statement about Purple Rain: “The members of the Grand Theft Orchestra (me, Chad, Michael and Jherek) all come from very different musical backgrounds and have wildly different tastes, but there is ONE THING on our venn diagram that overlaps in the ‘perfect album’ department, and that’s PURPLE RAIN. We all grew up worshipping this record. Everybody already knows the songs cold (Jherek used to actually be IN A PRINCE COVER BAND) and we’re all going to take turns singing and swapping instruments. The band will, of course, be dressed in our finest Prince-esque finery, covering all aspects of Prince, his facial hair, and his various eras of nudity. We’re also encouraging the entire audience to ‘come as your favorite era of prince.’ I want to run around counting people in ASSLESS CHAPS, and maybe give them door prizes for bravery. New Years Eve is cold.”
  • From Palmer’s statement, one can deduce that there will be many Prince-a-likes at the show and, hopefully, some bare bottoms.

Photo: Painting inspired by “The Living Room” by Cynthia Von Buhler. Taken at PoptART for Amanda Palmer’s L.A. Kickstarter event. Read my story about it on L.A. Weekly’s arts blog. 

Words and Music and Thanksgiving

Two copies of Words and Music by Saint Etienne

I’m writing this while listening to Words and Music, the latest album from Saint Etienne. It’s the U.S. exclusive, the one with the bonus disc that was sold on the tour that just ended. I bought two copies. Technically, there was a one per person limit before the show at the Fonda or the Music Box or whatever that venue is called today. I had my boyfriend stand in line for the second one because I had promised my friend that I would score a copy for her after she was unable to get one at the New York show.

Words and Music is all about people like us. There are songs about the moment you fall in love with music, songs about hitting the clubs, songs about getting ready for the big concert. I interviewed the trio from Saint Etienne once, not long after I graduated from college. We spent a lot of time talking about record shopping. They might be more like my small group of pals than any band I’ve ever met.
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Help Kickstart Bei Ru’s Next Album

Back in early 2011, my then-editor at LA Weekly handed me a CD from a guy called Bei Ru and asked me if I wanted to do a story on him. Of course, I did.  The CD, Little Armenia (L.A.) was gorgeous, made by samples of Armenian music, grounded in L.A. hip-hop. It immediately became one of my favorite L.A. albums. I felt an immediate connection to Bei Ru, we’re both Armenian-Americans from the Valley who were obviously influenced by our city’s always-awesome underground music scenes. The story remains one of my favorite assignments (it’s also one of the only articles that everyone in my family read) and Bei Ru is still one of my favorite local musicians.

Right now, Bei Ru is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for his next album. It’s a more ambitious release in that he’s planning on working with other musicians and recording engineers. Because of that, he’s looking to raise $10,000. You know the Kickstarter drill by now: Bei Ru has to hit the goal by November 26 or he gets nothing. If you pledge, there are some really cool incentives, including Bei Ru releases, lots of limited edition art and even a 2-hour live Bei Ru gig at your house. Check out Bei Ru’s Kickstarter page for more info.

Underground’s Ice Cream Party + ‘Think Cold Thoughts’ Playlist

We’re still in the midst of a heat wave here in Los Angeles. Not to be all whiny L.A. or anything, but it’s so hot you can feel yourself walking through a thick, disgusting mass of summer air. Nightclubbing in this weather can be a chore, so Underground is busting out the ice cream this week. Really, we’ll have tasty treats on hand for free while supplies last, so get there early. If you want to come to the party, make sure you RSVP for free early entry/discount entry all night. You can do that by commenting on Underground’s site or leaving an RSVP on Facebook. If you have a birthday this week, let us know and we can set you up with an extra special treat.
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Weep in the Car: Driving in L.A. While Listening to Alate

Weep’s new album, Alate. (Photo: Liz O.)

I have a ritual for new CDs, if you could call it that. I put the disc inside the player in my car and I listen. If I like it, it stays in place for anywhere from three days to a week. I let the CD lapse 10, 20, 30 times. I don’t use shuffle. I don’t skip tracks and I don’t repeat songs.

By telling you this, I can anticipate a couple different reactions. One is, OMG, Liz, are you so lazy that you can’t swap discs when you’re stopped at a light? The other, more likely, response is, why don’t you just upload everything to your phone and plug that into the dash? All of this, though, would be defeating the purpose.

If I like an album, I want to live with it for a while and, since I’m in Los Angeles, I live in my car.

Right now, the album that’s overworking my CD player is Alate by Weep. It’s not out yet. I was very fortunate to get an advance of it. (Thanks to Doc from Weep and Sam from Projekt Records.) It’s a CD I like a lot, but I won’t be reviewing it on account of the fact that I’m actively pursuing work that involves never writing an album review again.

Here are the basics. Weep is a band fronted by Doc Hammer. You might recognize him from The Venture Bros. Also, if you’re a super huge music nerd who prefers the dark, ethereal stuff, you may also recognize him from previous bands, like Mors Syphilitica and Requiem in White. His latest Weep release is probably the most “pop” sort of album I’ve heard from him, but that’s only if you consider albums like Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ocean Rain and Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy to be pop. I do, so that works.

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The Depeche Mode Songs You Want to Hear at Underground Tonight

Yesterday, I asked which Depeche Mode songs I should bring to our shindig at Underground and you responded. I’ve compiled the list below for your perusal.

I don’t know which picks will actually make it into the set. If you want to find out, you have to go to the party tonight. Underground is at the Grand Star in Chinatown. If you’re on Facebook, make sure you RSVP.
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Anime and Music Fans Aren’t That Different

For more from AM2, read the latest installment of my Cult Stars column for L.A. Weekly, “Top 5 Things You’ll Find in an Anime Convention Exhibit Hall as Seen at AM2.”

Last weekend, I went to AM2, an anime convention out in Orange County. While I was there, I stopped by a panel hosted by the team behind the fan-centric website Ani.me. Their talk had to do “10 Commandments” for anime fans. It was funny, insightful and further proof to me that anime fans and music fans are more similar than they will acknowledge.

I grew up a hardcore music collector. I bought import albums and import music magazines, hunted down rarities, carefully made mixed tapes for my friends, studied the ones they made me. I became a DJ, the nerdiest job that people think is cool.

Though I have been watching anime since I was a kid, it was just a passing interest until grad school, when I got hooked on Fullmetal Alchemist and went to my first convention. Anime cons fascinate me for a lot of reasons, particularly in how much anime fans remind me of the lives my friends and I led as music obsessives.
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