Sunday, April 06, 2008

City Hall (The SS Remix)

Thanks to an invitation from a friend, I was able to join a mixed group of sorts at, oddly enough, a DJ set on the lawn of City Hall in downtown Los Angeles where one of my old favorites was spinning, Groove Armada. They were being opened by Jason Bentley who many forget was a DJ before he became a radio personality for a reputable music program on KCRW.

I’m listening to Radio1’s Essential Mix (they are showcasing Moby’s set in Miami from this past WMC) courtesy of my girlfriend in Grenada; she is there for medical school (and always a good source of music).

My friend and her boyfriend picked me up on their way; and we made one more stop to get Chef Matt, an interesting and worldly friend of theirs whose music tastes trend towards the largely under-discovered European electronic artists (minimalists he calls them). He is so-named because he is a personal chef. He just got back from Miami and was sharing his WMC experiences with us in the car. For those not in-the-know, the Winter Music Conference is a weeklong electronic music event held every March in Miami. It is a who’s who of electronic music and attended by fans from around the world.

Switching up my music to The Faint’s “The Conductor” remixed by Thin White Duke on their Danse Macabre Remixes album

We got Downtown early enough to reminisce at the Standard, where both good and bad memories haunt me…and so be it. What fun is nostalgia if it cannot offer you a pointed experience when strolling down its familiar lanes?

At the bar we ordered Ketel-sodas and Ketel-Citron-sodas. Admittedly I am not a soda girl. I switched from tonic to soda several years ago only because soda has no sugar, but it also has no flavor. So after a season or two of ordering vodka sodas, I switched to straight, clean vodka, neat with a twist and served in a snifter. No more watered-down versions of what could be a smooth and tasty liquor for me…although I had to change this preference as well because I am a fast drinker (not a tippler, mind you).

Les Rythmes Digitales “Jacques Your Body Makes Me Sweat”

Of course that put me in my kind of a frivolous bind. What should become my drink of choice now? Should it be socially influenced or driven by my taste? I happened to visit Cuba several years back (it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience) and for a while I was faithfully hooked on Mojitos, but invariably none are ever as good as I had tasted in Cuba, so on to the next. An old friend of mine, a southern belle, would always order Black Russians, so I had a flirty stint with those as well...but enough about cocktails. I settled on the Ketel-Citron-soda because Chef Matt ordered one, and it seemed like a nice, light starter cocktail for me.

We also ordered food: overcooked sliders with dried-out skewers of steak and chicken and a wilted frisee salad. Yes, I didn’t know it was possible to wilt frisee either, but apparently it is. The French fries were dark and crispy, which is fine to me, but they were also heavily salted (but who doesn’t make that mistake these days unfortunately). All things considered, it is the rooftop bar at the Standard, and that culinary experience has always been a mixed bag of sorts for me.

Another one of their friends, a private practice lawyer, joined us as we repositioned ourselves at the couches. He played football in Nebraska and came out to California like many others do, for a sunny, more successful, upbeat change of pace. He found his refuge in Hermosa Beach. Not a shock as many supplants first migrate towards the beach cities, also known as the South Bay, when coming to California. I myself live in Hermosa, and up until about three months ago in Manhattan Beach.

Felix da Housecat “Silver Screen Shower Scene” (Thin White Duke Mix by Jacques Lu Cont)

Our conversation spanned an array of topics, from the delicate to the severe, from the perceived loss of habeas corpus for non-citizens to Top Chef, a cooking show on Bravo TV. I am a huge fan of Top Chef, so all of my questions were of course directed at Chef Matt. “Have you considered being on the show?” “What knives do you have in your knife roll?” “What is your favorite ethnic food group to prepare?” etc.

On our way out, I stopped in the restroom and was surrounded by the happy alcoholic buzz of three rambunctious Newport Beach women pitstopping on the rooftop before heading home from a designer jeans sale at the LA Convention Center. They proudly pulled out their Hudson and True Religion purchases from their purses for my inspection. Yes, I know, why? I guess I have a friendly smile--and they were also drunk.

The Whitest Boy Alive “Golden Cage (Fred Falke Remix)”

We parked at an outside lot a few blocks away; the opening acts had already begun and we could hear a persistent electronic bass line from our outside lot. That alone was enough to give me that giddy feeling akin to a teenage girl before a school dance. We started our beeline through the parked cars towards the sound.

Tickets, will call, nasty bathroom stalls, and a few grassy knolls later, we were standing in the middle of a crowd of head-bobbers and enjoying Jason Bentley. With cheap cocktails in hand, and a little over an hour later, we appropriately shouted our welcome as Andy Cato and Tom Findlay, aka Groove Armada, strode onto the stage.

Their set was pleasant and pumped. It had the perfect crowd-pleasing crescendos that broke into ear-splitting bass lines. And as I enjoyed the music and soaked in the experience, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy at how many other people were experiencing something akin to my appreciation of their music. A part of me wondered if my best-kept-secret-of-yesterday had become the latest kitschy music craze.

Hot Chip “The Warning”

Ah, well. I cannot deny that I love the music, no matter how popular it is or not. I just do.

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