Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘los angeles’

Pride Protest 2017

This June in West Hollywood, there will be no LGBT Pride Parade. Instead there will be a march entitled — #Resist March. This will coincide with the National Equality March in Washington, DC. It will also be the one year anniversary of the massacre at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.resist-la-pride-750x563

I am happy to hear that LA Pride organizers (Christopher Street West) are doing this event at this time. I love Pride… I have been going to the festivals and the parades for over 30 years now. The last year at the Pride Festival was not so cool for us. It was expensive, and there was not much happening other than food, drinks and entertainment. In past years, there was plenty of community organizations and small business vendors. At today’s pride, those things are gone and replaced with more ways to get drunk and party.

The parade too has changed. There used to be more smaller groups too, and not so many corporations. But I always enjoy the men in Speedos and the leather guys in ass-less chaps. But it’s OK to be missing this — this time. There are more important things going on in the world.

Here are the reasons that I am marching this year:

  1. To send a message to Donald Trump. Still hard to believe that this evil, small-minded man is the President. LGBT people don’t seem to fit in his vision of “Making America Great Again.”
  2. To remember those friends that we have lost to AIDS and those elders that came before us in the fight for gay rights.
  3. To protect marriage equality. My partner and I finally got married on August 27, 2016. It was one of the happiest days of our lives. I want to make sure that the government cannot take that away.
  4. To protect and encourage healthcare for all. Everyone regardless of income, race, or religion should have access to quality and affordable healthcare. Republicans don’t seem to think this way… their idea is to just not get sick!
  5. To protect freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. We all have the right to worship as we want (Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.). But I don’t want religion in my politics!
  6. For our youth. I want to live in a world where people can love and marry who they want, dress how they want, and worship (or not) how they want to. I want a world of diversity.
  7. For the women in the world. It is about time that women make the same as a man for doing the same job. I believe in equal pay for women and in funding for reproductive health.
  8. For the planet. I believe in science and global warming. It is very scary that our leaders do not, and want to get rid of anything good that Obama did regarding cutting emissions.
  9. For the world. To let people in other countries know that we will not sit idly by why a fool ruins our country and world. We are fed up and we are going to keep our resistance up.
  10. Because Black Lives Matter. This doesn’t get said enough. I worry that my African-American husband will go out to the store, and not return. Just because he encountered a trigger-happy racist on his trip.

For all these reasons and more, I will be marching on Sunday, June 11, 2017. And yes, the KiltMan will be rocking the kilt while he protests. I encourage you to get involved, stand up and let your voices be heard. We will NOT be silent and we are not going away.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

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Idina Menzel Soars at the Greek

Idina Menzel in Concert
Friday, April 14, 2017
Greek Theatre

Idina. World Tour 2017

Songs performed: Queen of Swords, Small World, Seasons of Love, Don’t Rain on My Parade, The Way We Were, Everybody Knows, Cake, Black Dog, I’m Not That Girl, Perfect Story, Wind Beneath My Wings, Defying Gravity, I Do, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Rock Steady, No Day But Today, Dear Prudence, Do You Want to Build A Snowman?, For Good, Let It Go, I’ll Be Seeing You, I See You

Idina-MenzelComments: Idina Menzel, star of stage and screen, opened the 2017 season at the Greek Theatre. It was the latest stop on her “Idina.” World Tour.

I knew Idina from her Broadway shows — Rent and Wicked. Plus, of course, her work on Disney’s “Frozen.” Not to mention her turn on Fox’s “Glee” and the remake of “Beaches” from earlier this year. So yes, I am familiar with her powerhouse vocals. Plus her acting chops too. Her recent pop albums though, never heard anything from them.

The show started around 8:40 PM with Idina and her band playing “Queen of Swords” from her recent album “Idina.” Idina even played banged on some drums during one of the instrumental breaks of the song.

Her star-making roles in “Rent” and “Wicked” provided some of the highlights of the night. “Seasons of Love” was performed in a more upbeat version than the original, and the audience was encouraged to sing along. “No Day But Today” was also an audience participation number about the importance of living life and not taking anything for granted.

The numbers from “Wicked” she sang were “Defying Gravity,” “I’m Not That Girl” and “For Good” (which she sang a capella). And yes, she can hit those high notes on “Defying Gravity.” I saw “Wicked” in Dallas last year, and my thought was the woman playing Elphaba was not as good as Idina (but who is?).

She paid tribute to various artists throughout the night with inspired cover versions: Barbra Streisand (“Don’t Rain on My Parade”/”The Way We Were”), Aretha Franklin (“Rock Steady”), Bette Midler (“Wind Beneath My Wings”), Simon and Garfunkel (“Bridge Over Troubled Water”), the Beatles (“Dear Prudence”) and even Led Zeppelin (“Black Dog” during the middle part of the new song “Cake”).

Idina shared that she is in love, and that she is going to be getting married soon. The new song “Cake” is for her fiancé. The chorus goes “One man’s poison is another man’s cake.” What does that say about Taye Diggs — Her first husband and the father of her child?

Idina acknowledged how she can be a contradiction. She knows she has a lot of young fans from “Wicked” and “Frozen.” But then again, she is a Jewish girl from NY whose middle-aged gay fans want to see her be the “sassy diva” and drop a few f-bombs. Which she did a few times during the night.

The stage was sort of simple, with a staircase near the back of the stage. Plus curtains with lights and videos screens on the back too. She had air blowing on her for “Wind Beneath My Wings” with a flying shawl around her (which she later ripped up during another number). She joked how things were lo-tech. Like how she had to move her stool around the stage, how it didn’t ascend through the floor or come down from the ceiling and fly around like some other divas.

She came across as very relatable and friendly. During “Let It Go,” she invited young kids to come up on stage with her and sing the song — mostly girls, but a couple of boys too. Some of the kids were very shy and didn’t want to sing. She dismissed the kids before the end of the song, as she had yet to hit the high notes that the song requires.

The new songs were all enjoyable. “Cake” had a bit of reggae rock vibe. While “Everybody Knows” was a dance song. The closing song for the night was “I See You” (another new song) which she dedicated to her fans (with images from them playing on the screens behind her).

Her band was compromised of top-notch musicians, and included a cellist and a violinist too. They were all given time to shine, including her backing vocalist (who helped out on “Rock Steady”).

Thanks to Idina and her band for a great time. She is a classy lady with a big voice — ready and willing to take on a movie role, a lead in a Broadway musical or just performing as her fun, lovable self for an adoring crowd.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Celebrating Pride 2016

As I am getting older, what Pride means has changed. When I was in my 20’s, I could go to Gay Pride for 2 days, 8-10 hour days each day. Now if I spend 3 hours there, it seems to be a miracle.100_6750

This has been an interesting year for me. I have had a few milestones like paying off most of my credit card debt. And planning for my wedding. Friends and family have had some serious health challenges, and you start to question what your own golden years are going to be like.

So yes, I will be making my annual appearance at the Pride Festival and Pride Parade. We like to go to the festival on Saturday night when it is less crowded than on Sunday. Sunday, we will watch the parade with some friends from church, and then go home.

More important though is the fact that I am living my life out loud where I live and work. At home, we have a rainbow flag in our window, and come and go as a gay couple. At work, I have pictures of me and my partner in my cubicle, and on the internal company social network too. There is no doubting that we are together.

The planning a wedding thing is interesting…. I never thought I was going to see this in my lifetime. Now it will be here before I know it. How elaborate or how small of a ceremony do you have? Of do you have one at all? We know how we feel about each other and want to have this ceremony, because we love each other — and we deserve it. We are special people, and what we have together is special too.

So I am not wearing a kilt in the wedding… but we are wearing matching outfits. Am I going to have any family there? Who knows? They will be invited, and then it will be up to them to decide if that is right for them or not. When I first brought up the idea to my parents, they weren’t so supportive… even though, they have known my partner for 27 years.

The acceptance and visibility of LGBT people in the last few years has been amazing to watch. I wish my friends that have passed on, could have lived to see it.

I hope that you live your pride — all year long — in every area of your life. I am trying my best to do so.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Editors note: This blog was written before the horrible events in Orlando, FL.

Rihanna: ANTI Tour 2016

Rihanna in Concert
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
The Forum

ANTI World Tour 2016

Special guest: Travis Scott

Rihanna-2016

Songs performed: Stay, Love the Way You Lie (Part II), Woo, Sex With Me, Birthday Cake, Pour It Up, Numb, Bitch Better Have My Money, Goodnight Gotham (dance interlude), Consideration, Live Your Life / Run This Town / All of the Lights, Umbrella, Desperado, Man Down, Rude Boy, Work, Take Care, We Found Love / How Deep Is Your Love, Where Have You Been, Needed Me, Same Ol’ Mistakes, Diamonds, FourFiveSeconds, Love on the Brain, Kiss It Better

Comments: Rihanna brought her ANTI world tour to Los Angeles last week for a couple of shows. The tour is named after her 8th studio album, ANTI, which features the number one hit “Work” featuring Drake.

I had last seen Ri-Ri on her Loud tour back in 2011. She’s had more 3 albums and countless hits since then. She started the show with her smash ballad “Stay” — where she was on a small stage on the other side of the arena. She was dressed with a hooded coat over her heard. She also sang her part of “Love the Way You Lie” — her duet w/ Eminem.

From there, Rihanna hopped on a suspended plexiglass catwalk over the crowd, and made her way to the main stage. (I heard that it didn’t work on her 2nd night, and she had to make her way on the floor).

Rihanna is one of my favorite singers of the last 10 years. She has had an incredible run of hit singles since her debut. So that is why I was so upset when the “ANTI” album finally came out, and I didn’t like it. More like hated it. We waited 3 years for this? A moody project with some half-ass songs on it, and no real hits? I guess I am in the minority judging by this show, and the reaction to her new songs. She did a majority of the album in the concert.

“Work,” her duet with Drake, is decent musically, but lyrically it is sort of lame. I never would have predicted it would go to #1. “Kiss It Better” and “Desperado” are the other 2 that are OK, the rest are just not my cup of tea.

The stage was sort of sparse, very clean and fresh looking all in white. The band was lowered for part of the show, but were raised up later in the show. She did perform a medley of her songs with rappers like she did before. So we got “Live Your Life,” “Run This Town,” and “Kill the Lights.” And she also performed her other duet with Drake “Take Care” which is a much better song that “Work.” Unfortunately, Drake was a no-show that night, but I heard he showed up the following night in LA.

She did perform “Umbrella,” “Where Have You Been,” “We Found Love” and “Diamonds.” Those are some of my favorites from her. During “We Found Love” there were giant rainbow blow-ups surrounding the stage, to give the feel of a rave. They looked sort of like caterpillars. It was interesting that she chose some album cuts over hits too, like “Birthday Cake” and “Man Down.”

She had about 4 costume changes in the night. Most of them were in earth tones. They were playful and stylish. The wildest one being a bit of a see-through dress with her privates covered in a body suit covered in spangles and glitter.

Her band, backup singers and dancers all did a great job supporting the star. She is one beautiful woman, with a very distinctive and strong voice. I forgive her for “ANTI,” and I give her props for trying something different. She could have played it safe, but she didn’t and I commend her for it. It was also good to hear “Bitch Better Have My Money” and “FourFiveSeconds” — her hits from 2015.

One interesting side note was the backdrop used during the ending sequence. It was a silver backdrop — with soap bubbles dropping from the ceiling against it. The show ended with the drummer and percussionist looking like they were going to be swallowed up in bubbles.

Opening act Travis Scott’s set was big miss for me. He’s a foul-mouthed rapper, in his performance and when he was talking to. The crowd though ate it all up, so again I am in the minority. Only one song in his set seemed to have a decent beat. He also made his way out into the crowd for one number, and let someone rap a couple of his verses too. The guy did a good job, and Travis even gave him his cap.

Songs I would have loved to have heard in the show: “Pon De Replay,” “SOS,” “Murderer,” “S&M,” “Cheers Drink to That,” “Jump,” “Please Don’t Stop the Music,” “Only Girl in the World” and more.

Thanks to Rihanna and her crew for a good show. Hopefully I will love the album she is touring behind next time!

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Madonna: Still the Queen of Pop

Madonna in Concert
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
The Forum

Special guest: Michael Diamond

Rebel Heart Tour

Songs performed: Iconic, Bitch I’m Madonna, Burning Up, Holy Water/Vogue, Devil Pray, Messiah, Body Shop, True Blue, Deeper and Deeper, Heartbreak City/Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, Like a Virgin, S.E.X./Justify My Love, Living for Love, La Isla Bonita, Dress You Up/Into the Groove/Lucky Star, Like a Prayer, Rebel Heart, Illuminati, Music/Candy Shop, Material Girl, La Vie en Rose, Unapologetic Bitch, Holiday

Merchandise purchased: T-shirt, program

Comments: Madonna brought her latest world tour to the Forum in Inglewood, California for an outrageous spectacular. Touring behind her 13th studio album, “Rebel Heart,” Madonna showed why she is the queen of pop and consistently one of the most exciting live performers working today.MDN65131

Say what you want about Madonna, she knows how to put on a show. She gives you a spectacular that celebrates the new music, while also mining her distinctive and deep song catalog. After 32+ years in the music business, Madonna at 57 years young — still has people talking about her, singing and dancing along to her hits, and marveling at her performances.

Madonna came on around 10:20 PM, after a DJ set by Michael Diamond from 8:15 to 9:30 PM. A video intro played while Samurai warriors marched about the stage with large crosses on poles. The opening song was “Iconic,” which features fighter Mike Tyson and Chance the Rapper (both shown on the video also). Madonna was lowered from the top of the stage in a cage, with her dancing and singing inside of it. Then the cage opened and she interacted with the other dancers on the stage.

The stage was technical marvel again for this production. It had the one main stage, with a large section in the middle that also served as a movable elevated stage. It could be used vertically as a video screen, and at an angle too with dancers moving on and around it. There was a long catwalk into the audience that looked like a cross with a heart on the bottom of it. The catwalk had a circular area that could be elevated as well as various trapdoors too.

For “Bitch I’m Madonna,” Madonna danced with a troupe of geishas on the stage. The crowd loved singing along to that line. “Burning Up” was the first of the Madonna classics for the night. She performed a rocked up version of it while playing electric guitar on the elevated stage in the middle of the catwalk.

The next segment was one of the wildest. Set to the song “Holy Water” which is Madonna’s song about her vaginal juices being like holy water. So we got bikini girls with nun’s habits on stripper poles on the catwalk area. Then in the middle, it cut to “Vogue” with images of Renaissance artwork shown on the video screens. Then it was back to the main stage for the final segment of “Holy Water” complete with a recreation of the Last Supper. And including Madonna pushing a male dancer’s face into her crotch.

While Madonna is changing costumes and preparing for the next segment, we get the video interludes. The first was for the song “Messiah.” It featured a lone shirtless male dancer who danced with a large flying white cloth… which was lifted by the aid of large fans aimed into the air. Images from the “Ghosttown” video were played on the main screen.

For “Body Shop,” Madonna and her dancers did a routine in a mechanic’s garage. She brought back “True Blue” which she hasn’t performed in years — with Madonna accompanying herself on ukulele. Another lost gem was up next “Deeper and Deeper” from 1992’s Erotica album. It was given the full production dance treatment it deserved.

A circular 2-story staircase was lowered to the end of the catwalk. Madonna performed the song “Heartbreak City” as she ascended and descended the staircase, with a male dancer climbing all over it to get to her. It culminates with Madonna tossing the guy off the top of it… and he disappears under the stage. She mixed in her cover of Rose Royce’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” off of the “Like a Virgin” album into this segment also.

“Like a Virgin” was a chance for Madonna to cavort on the catwalk by herself while the crowd sang along to every word.

The next interlude was for the song “S.E.X” with a bit of “Justify My Love” mixed in too. Scenes from Madonna’s Erotica and Justify My Love videos played on the back screen while on the slanted video stage, there were 4 beds with 4 different couples on the beds (3 straight, and one gay male couple). They proceeded to do a sexy routine that had the couples dancing over and grinding each other.

Next up was the Latin-themed segment. She recreated the video for “Living for Love,” with Madonna dressed up as a matador with a long dramatic cape that she had to have 2 people help carry. This was a high-energy remix of the song and not the album version. Madonna fought off her dancers who were dressed as bulls for this dramatic segment.

She re-worked a bunch of her early hits for a segment out on the catwalk. They were given a stripped down sort of Flamenco treatment. Songs included “La Isla Bonita,” “Dress You Up,” “Into the Groove” and “Lucky Star.” With her troupe of dancers in full latin-inspired costumes. “Like a Prayer” was sung next (She had been singing ‘Who’s That Girl” during most of the other tour stops). It is a definitely a crowd favorite, and always is.

The title track from the “Rebel Heart” album was up next. Madonna thanked her fans for their love over the last 32 years. She commented how the Forum was like a second home for her in Los Angeles, since she had performed there many times.

The last and most exciting of the video interludes was next. Seven dancers ascended long poles, and began to rock their bodies back and forth, causing the poles to bend and sway as well. It was set to the song “Illuminati.” Meanwhile on the stage there were more dancers outfitted in dressy tux and tails. Some of the dancers on the stage got lifted off the stage by the guys on the poles. And at times it seemed like the swaying guys were going to either hit the stage or the people in the audience because of the wide angle of the sway action.

The Hollywood segment was the last one before the finale and encore. Madonna was dressed as a sparkling flapper girl. And the troupe was either in tuxs or gowns for this segment. She started with a lounge version of “Music” before it transitioned into the version we know and love. She then mixed in “Candy Shop” from 2008’s Hard Candy album. She loves the song as she has performed it the last 2 times also (and it wasn’t even a single). Madonna did some high-energy dancing during this segment. During this segment there was even a topless girl that was dressed in an outfit inspired by Josephine Baker’s banana skirt outfit.

Another hit from the “Like a Virgin” days was performed next — “Material Girl”. It was done similar to the music video. With Madonna fending off a bunch of suitors. Madonna and the guys were on the upper edge of the slanted stage, and then pushed the guys down as she got rid of them. Then Madonna walked like a bride down the center part of the catwalk. She talked about the 3 rings of marriage: the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering: saying she hasn’t been too lucky in the marriage department.

Taking a well-deserved rest, Madonna next sat down and sang the French song “La Vie en Rose” — a cover of a song by Edith Piaf. Again, it was her and the ukulele.

“Unapologetic Bitch” had Madonna and her dancers doing a routine at the end of the catwalk. They pulled someone from the crowd to be the unapologetic bitch for the night… turns out it was Katy Perry! She danced with M and the dancers and she even spanked her. Plus Madonna made her drink out of a flask shaped like a banana.

“Holiday” served as the finale. It was given a high-energy performance by Madonna and her dancers. Madonna carried a USA flag as a cape for most of this. One of her earliest hits, it remains one of her most enduring and happiest songs.

You could tell that Madonna was having a lot of fun during the show. And so was the crowd.

I was disappointed in that she didn’t do “Ghosttown” off the new album. It is one of my favorites. But she definitely surprised with some of the oldies pulled from her song catalog (Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, True Blue & Deeper and Deeper being the biggest surprises for me).

Thanks to Madonna and her troupe of talented musicians, singers, dancers, and acrobats for an amazing evening. Bring on the next tour for her 60th birthday!

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Welcome Back Janet Jackson!

Janet Jackson in Concert
Friday, October 16, 2015
The Forum

Unbreakable World Tour

Songs performed: Burn It Up!, Nasty, Feedback, Miss You Much, Alright, You Want This, Control, What Have You Done for Me Lately, The Pleasure Principle, Escapade, When I Think of You, All for You, All Nite (Don’t Stop), Love Will Never Do (Without You), After You Fall, Again, Come Back to Me, Let’s Wait Awhile, I Get Lonely, Anytime Anyplace, No Sleeep, Got ‘Til It’s Gone, That’s the Way Love Goes, Together Again, The Best Things in Life Are Free, Throb, Black Cat, If, Scream, Rhythm Nation, Shoulda Known Better, Unbreakable

Merchandise purchased: T-shirt

Comments: Janet Jackson made her triumphant return to Los Angeles as part of her Unbreakable World Tour. It’s been 14 years since I last saw Janet on her “All for You” tour. And it has been 7 years since she last released a full studio album — 2008’s “Discipline” and 4 years since the Number Ones Tour in 2011.janet-jackson-unbreakable-tour

As a long-time Janet fan, the last few years and projects have been disappointing for me. After “All for You,” it was all downhill for me. But, with the new “Unbreakable,” she seems to have taken her time and come up with something good again. Plus she has always ruled the concert stage, and now it is selling out all over the world. The promoters keep adding more and more dates.

So what does Janet look and sound like in 2015? Read on for my review:

The concert started about 8:35 PM for an 8:00 show time. There was no opening act other than a DJ who was mixing in some of Janet’s new songs with some of her collaborations with Shaggy, Busta Rhymes and more.

Janet was first shown in silhouette against a white backdrop. She started into “Burn It Up!”, her collaboration with Missy Elliott off the new album. She was dressed in a black body hugging outfit with drop crotch pants and some sparkly sneakers. She was wearing a big necklace and her hair was long in red auburn curls.

From there, it was a non-stop hit party for the next 2 hours. She basically did all of her hits from the “Number Ones” collection minus a few tracks, and added in a few from the new CD too.

Janet was backed by a dance troop of young women who served as her backup dancers for the night. She had 4 backing vocalists and a full band.

The production was more stripped down and simple compared to recent tours I have seen. So no moving stages, or long catwalks, or outrageous costumes, or large scale video screens, lasers, or other special effects. There were some pyrotechnics, and some strobe light effects on the stage, with 2 movable staircases on either side.

Did she need all of that stuff? Not really. When you have the song catalog that she has and are as polished and engaging of a performer as she is, you don’t need added special effects to make the performance.

For me, this show was about Janet reminding us why we loved her to begin with. The emphasis was on the music: her songwriting, her artistry and her unbeatable performances. Her voice was strong and showed no signs of wear and tear. And add in the fact that she was dancing to all her uptempo numbers just like in the old days, and you know you were in the presence of greatness. She is one of the most exciting performers I have seen in my life, and to see her again at this point in her career was awesome.

There were so many great stand-out moments in the concert for me. It was a trip down memory lane for sure. I enjoyed the new songs very much also… and wish she had actually done more from the new album too. The ballad segment during the middle of the show was very nice, and I loved the stripped down version of “I Get Lonely.” And the 1-2-3 punch of “Black Cat,” “If” and “Rhythm Nation” had the whole arena going crazy. She left the stage after those songs, to come back for her encore.

She sang “Shoulda Known Better” from her new album. On the screens were shown images of social injustice. It is a sequel of sorts to the themes talked about on her “Rhythm Nation” project. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (her long-time collaborators) came out after that song, and congratulated Janet on her #1 album and #1 song (“No Sleeep”). Janet thanked her fans for all of their love and support and reminded everyone that her family had been in show business for 50 years now. The final song of the night was the title track off of “Unbreakable.”

Thanks to Janet, the band, and dancers for a fantastic evening. You are a superstar and truly deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

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