Anthony Gonzalez of M83 performs a special DJ set for fans at Private Label. (Rony's Photobooth )
Here's a hot clubland tip: There's a venue near the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Ivar Avenue in Hollywood where indie-electronica artists playing major L.A. headlining dates will hop on a laptop for exclusive after-party DJ sets.
"Congratulations L.A. Times, you've discovered Amoeba Music," you might be groaning into your newspaper. Nice one. Now quit rolling your eyes and walk down the street from Amoeba into Lure, and check your expectations about Hollywood fist-pumping dance clubs at the door.
For the last three Fridays, Lure has bridged the vast crevasse between Pitchfork-approved electronica savants and the Hollywood megaclub maelstrom with Private Label. It's a night dedicated to putting artists like the xx, M83, Nosaj Thing, Washed Out and John Talabot in a room that, by all geographic indicators, should be full of guys who stuffed artists like those into lockers in high school.
"In L.A., you often have the guys who are spending big money at a club dictating the music program," Lure's Will Runzel said. "This is all about the talent. They ask us what they should play, and we tell them 'Anything you want.'"
Most of the week, Lure more closely resembles what comes to mind when you think of a Hollywood club named Lure: four-figure champagne bottles, thumpy house DJs and an armory of lazers and LED walls.
But Private Label, a joint venture between Lure's talent buyer Runzel and DJ Jason Stewart (a veteran of Steve Aoki's Cinespace parties who spins as Them Jeans), is a safe harbor for smarter partying in the neighborhood. Imagine a Foreign Correspondents Club for chillwavers venturing west of Western for the first time in months.
When the pair began Private Label, they had designs on something between Bardot's School Night and the beloved Hollywood day party the Do-Over. They wanted a night to distinguish the space from the gobs of joints bumping bad trance nearby; to throw some bottle-service-level paychecks to the bookers' favorite touring artists; and to capitalize on the draw that a buzzed-over live act can bring to an already-busy nightclub.
"Whenever I go out, if I don't love the music, I usually just stand there, not dancing, drinking my friends' alcohol," Stewart said, laughing. "We wanted a space where you can have the full classic Hollywood weekend out, but with music I'd want to dance to."
Stewart and Runzel also see Private Label complementing the larger ecosystem of live music in L.A.. For acts already squeezed by the tight margins of toting a live band, gear and expensive buses around the country, an easygoing DJ set down the block is a welcome second paycheck and another chance to engage an audience in a big market. Playing Private Label has all the upside of the EDM cash grab of recent years, and you get to wake up with your hipster integrity the next morning.
The series continues through November before a short seasonal hiatus (it will resume early next year). But already, Private Label is hitting capacity for these unlikely nights. Some of the DJs, like Jamie Smith of the London minimalist trio the xx, have well-honed sideline careers behind the decks, and they can easily transition from a sold-out Hollywood Forever show down the street. Others, like the L.A. beatsmith Nosaj Thing, are adept at live-mixing software, and pivoting from their own music to sets of raucous trap music and U.K. bass is natural — if unexpected — in the maw of Hollywood.
But others, like Anthony Gonzalez of cosmic-rockers M83, get full reign to upend expectations about what they listen to in their off hours — and their ability to facilitate a rowdy party.
"John Talabot was really surprising; everything I'd heard from him was pretty dark," Stewart said of the Spanish experimental artist. "But he played this amazing set of warm, feel-good house music. It blew me away, how good he was at being a classic house DJ."
The season finishes off with sets from RAC, Classixx and DFA Records' Holy Ghost in November. But Private Label already has accomplished something even more difficult: It's made clubbing in Hollywood on a Friday night seem unnervingly inviting.
"We almost see it as a way of educating the bottle-service-driven crowd about underground music," Runzel said. "On the weekends all these other clubs are playing a lot of Avicii and Swedish House Mafia, but no one else on this block is getting M83 after they play a Coachella stage."
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