L.A. Scene May 2011: k.d. lang and Siss Boom Bang at KCRW, gb2, Lez Give Back

L.A. Scene is a monthly column that chronicles lesbian nightlife and events of interest in Los Angeles. Sarah Witness, an East Coast transplant and obvious femme, has been navigating the snark infested waters of Hollywood since 2001. Although she’s an NYU trained actress, she prefers sipping vodka and making idle chit-chat at really gay nightclubs.

K.D. LANG AND THE SISS BOOM BANG RECORDING SESSION

KCRW is the local NPR affiliate.  They are known for having an eclectic and hipster mix of programming. They recently held an in-studio recording session featuring k.d. lang and her new band Siss Boom Bang. The concert was open to about one hundred KCRW supporters and a stray lesbian nightlife columnist. The crowd was comprised mostly of the tote-bag set, i.e. women in their 50s with a little extra money to throw toward public radio and a penchant for polyester pantsuits.  As we waited to go in, the woman behind me mused to her friend “I love CDs.”  Her friend agreed that CDs are, in fact, “quite sleek and fun.”

We were ushered into the studio and directed immediately to the bar, where we were given shots of tequila. The CD lovers tittered nervously, but ultimately figured “When in Rome!” and proceeded to get hammered. 

Lang arrived shoeless and without fanfare. She performed nine songs off of her new album Sing it Loud. Most of the songs were much more upbeat than I was expecting, clearly the influence of Siss Boom Bang. Lang said,  

I gave the record to my best friend to listen to, which I always do, and she phoned me a few days later and said “It starts off as a k.d. lang record — it’s really beautiful you know — then Siss Boom Bang, the band kicks in” and after, like, 60 days of not sleeping trying to think of a band name and looking up every word ever devised in the English language on the internet for band names — they’re all gone — Siss Boom Bang, I went, “there it is.”

There was less belting and more country/jazz/rockin’. Lang took her time with each song, and a few times insisted they go back and re-record until it was perfect. 

At one point, lang stopped to ask if the audience could take a minute to go drink more tequila. It turns out the tequila was provided at lang’s request, supplementing the typical NPR function staple of “warm white wine.” KCRW DJ Anne Litt interviewed the singer between songs. 

Litt clearly had a straight girl crush on lang and blushingly revealed that she had spotted her repeatedly at the Ivar St. Farmers Market but had been too shy to approach. Lang confessed to hanging out at the farmers market and also loves chilling by the Los Angeles River. This is an interesting place to loiter since the L.A. River resembles a concrete waterslide to nowhere.

Litt: Tony Bennett has called you the greatest singer of this generation.
lang:  Just this generation?
Litt: I’m guessing he’s exempting you from his generation.
lang: I’m kidding. No, people say that to me. I don’t know how to respond to that.

She also asked lang how she had such perfect pitch. Lang insisted that she does not have perfect pitch and referenced a mistake she had allegedly made earlier in the night. Of course, no one had noticed.  She does feel that growing up as the youngest of four children to study classical piano may explain a lot. With all of the children practicing for hours each day, lang was constantly exposed to music.  A nun named Sister Xavier eventually told k.d. to knock off the piano and give singing a whirl. Good call, sister.

You can watch the whole show at KCRW.com.

LEZ GIVE BACK

I pretty much go to anything that benefits the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center. They do great work and their events always have free vodka.  On May 7, they held a fundraiser for the Center’s women’s services. The party was held at the Masonic Lodge, which is at the entrance to The Hollywood Forever Cemetery. A number of Hollywood luminaries are buried there, including Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, and Estelle Getty.  It’s also an eternal party site. In addition to events being held in the lodge, there is a summer movie series where you can camp out in the graveyard and watch films. 

This event involved no speeches, no auctions, and one performance that was so short, I literally missed it because I ran to the bathroom. There were however, free drinks and promotional lip balm, which are two of my favorite things.  DJs Saratonin, Kim Anh and Anon provided the music and people danced in the sprawling ballroom. Others hung around outside and mingled.

In my opinion, the best event is one where you can actually talk. It
does make it hard to write about though. Let’s see — there was a woman
with a necklace made out of bullets. 

Also, I made a new friend. She
enjoys vodka, Vespas and promotional lip balm. Almost my
doppelganger. I promised to pimp her out at once. please email me with
inquiries. Not really.

The event raised $11,700 for The Gay and Lesbian Center.

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