Nights on the Circuit

Xania Woodman

Tuesday, September 25, 11:20 p.m.

It always seemed odd to me that the most “live” of any of the acts booked into the Beatles Revolution Lounge was the DJ. Though life springs up around that funky focal point in the form of break-dancers, celebrities and the occasional musician, the demi-stage always seemed bare. I remember touring the unpainted lounge midconstruction and commenting on the tiny stage area. It would be, I was told, for impromptu performances by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté’s musician friends. But rarely outside of private events have I seen such performances.

The weather report for nightclubs today says “reinvent or die.” The Mirage’s new executive director of nightclub operations, Dave Pappas, has taken this to heart. Revolution is re-evolving and, as of tonight, ultrasoft launching its new Live @ Revolution Tuesday. The honor goes to opening band Collectif, a colorful collection of local musicians hailing from the Blue Man Group, Celine Dion’s show, Zumanity, Purple Reign and Open Forum, Studio 54’s erstwhile underground performance artist-appreciation night. I’m expecting a gumbo of cacophonous artists, but instead Collectif is a polished seven-piece jazz ensemble with a modern sound and a hot, maraca-wielding chanteuse.

When I arrive, Collectif is wowing a nightclub crowd that probably never thought to seek out jazz, let alone expected to like it so much. There’s nothing mellow about the music or the singer’s voice, the rise and fall of which acts on my spine like a good vocal house track, sending shivers up and down till the hand holding my Ginger Peach cocktail shakes. In future weeks, as Live @ Revolution moves closer to its 2008 grand opening, DJ Shane Thomas will fill the void on Tuesdays as future bands are booked.

In the booth next to me, a reed-thin, long-faced boy sips hot tea and concentrates on perfecting his blank stare. At midnight on the dot, a new band—including a few Collectif members—starts up the first notes of “Break on Through (To the Other Side).” The boy saunters up to the microphone like he’s about to hit on it, but instead grabs it purposefully and opens his mouth to reveal a voice suitably screechy for Mojo Risin’s lead singer. In leather pants and jacket, a loose, frilly pirate shirt and a shock of black, side-parted hair in a decidedly ’70s ’do, he wails.

Over his shoulder, a girl in a psychedelic shift dress go-gos her boots off, making her way—as a good groupie should—from band member to band member, teasing and touching their instruments. Where the stage spills out into the gathering crowd, the rest of his entourage in similarly planned outfits straight out of Almost Famous or Dazed and Confused play the part of the screaming, frenzied female fans, pawing at each other, clawing at their hair and straining in their reach toward the skinny faux-Morrison as he peels off the leather jacket and gets intimate with the microphone. Like a trained model, he finds the best red lighting and stands in it, emulating Morrison’s herky-jerky pee-pee dance during “You Make Me Real.”

“Everybody feel all right?” he asks all gravely. We yell back as he goes into “Alabama Song.”

“I had an alcoholic art teacher who used to play this in his office all the time,” my non-sequitur-spouting friend Martin chimes in. The girls mock-cry—at least I hope they’re faking—going gaga as is their directive during an almost indecipherable “Summer’s Almost Gone.”

“I wanna see some action out there,” he says, suitably monotone, as if he’d been sipping peyote instead of tea. “I wanna see some fun, some love come.” He then goes into the final stretch with all the requisite hits: “Touch Me,” “People Are Strange.” A lighter goes up during “Light My Fire,” and some girls start kicking their shoes off. At 1 a.m. he grabs his coat and saunters offstage, presumably to his next happening or his next orgiastic psychedelic experience. I follow suit, but only insofar as grabbing my coat, and trip over the pile of shoes. During his impassioned “LA Woman” encore, I decide that the sound system is just a skoch too loud for the low-ceilinged venue, but I can just imagine the Lizard King himself smirking from the other side at my very square, unhip decision.

Xania Woodman thinks globally and parties locally. And frequently. E-mail her at [email protected] and visit to sign up for Xania’s free weekly newsletter.

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