The Viper Room Presents …

Casper & The Bad Spirits, Black Marquee & The Chelsea Smiles
The Viper Room, The Sunset Strip, West Hollywood, California
By Victoria Joyce

On the last day of July 2014, Casper & The Bad Spirits opened up a triple threat at the Viper Room heading up a heavenly roster with The Black Marquee and The Chelsea Smiles. It’s like that game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Casper’s guitar man, Kevin Bombay plays with The Bad Spirits and the Black Marquee. And Sky Vaughn-Jayne doubles as a Black Marquee and a Chelsea Smile.  Eventually we will all play in the same band. We are the World

The Viper Room’s big 21st anniversary is next week but we’ve got a sad bit of news upon arrival. Long time doorman Joseph “Bunny” Holiday is leaving and the new guy asked me for an ID. Awwww. Cute. And we will miss you and your beard, brother JosephIt’s a super muggy hot and sticky night in LA. We even had a couple of recent thunderstorms and that never happens here. It’s the perfect environment for these three dark and lovely bands with their own brand of Hollywood Voo Doo.

At 10 o’clock a very nice sized crowd has filed in and Casper and The Bad Spirits take the stage with their deep dark Goth-a-Billy Rock and Roll beats. Serious swinging twangs.

Leader and another former Viper doorman, Casper Von DJ,  who butters his bread by spinning Electro-Indie-Funk-Soul-Disco but his heart is in the living delivery. Afterwards Mr. C confided the best compliment ever got was from the LA Times who said he’s like Iggy Pop playing Tom Petty. Like that crazy Punk Pioneer in the bleached out sun? Yeah, it’s like that.

His on-stage look tonight is Phillip Marlowe at the Farmer’s Market; with black pinstripes, fedora, leather vest, silver chains, shirt and jeans. Looking for clues and some organic Kale.  Super sidemen, Kevin Bombay, in his own little parallel galaxy on guitar and restaurateur, John Arakaki (check out St. Felix) on bass, spinning around and blasting off in his own direction provides solace and disturbance at the same time.

Bombay’s jangly Folk Rock Punk plunking energetic and frenetic infects the first song which has to be called “Wait Till You See Me” but we’re not sure because Casper pointed out later that Kevin ignores all set lists.

Casper also told the nice sized crowd “I don’t have to tell you to stick around because all the bands are great” and introduced to special friend, a lovely young lady named Cassandra Church with the multi-colored hair to join him on stage.

Pretty Cassandra with her blouse buttoned up wrong, black lips and rainbow hair garbed in a Zebra striped blazer and heels looked like Madonna bitch-slapped Nico real hard in the Ladies Room. She sang nice too.

The songs sound dark and lush with lyrics about loss, anger, life and escape. A lot of drama searching for peace and prosperity knowing it may never be found. But you do what you can.

Taking a break from his Puddle of Mud tour, local lad, Matt Fuller jumped up on stage jammed on guitar for one song later telling us it was an impromptu parking lot agreement. It came off beautifully.

Most grateful and thanking everybody at the end of the set. Off stage, Casper the friendly ghost told us about his roots and listening to a lot of Honky Tonk as a kid. His former US Marine daddy played with Jimmy Dean. Big Bad John? Big Band John.

Next morning Casper Facebook’ed “In this crazy capitalistic mess we call the USA, it’s very hard to be a musician, artist, creator of any kind. There’s no $ in it. I can not express in human terms how grateful, lucky & blessed I am to have musicians of your caliber play with me. The art, the work, The spirit, the genius, the effort put forth by you Chase Manhattan, Kevin Bombay, John Arakaki, Cassandra Church, can never be repaid nor even put into a figure of 10456121_798665620154057_310315411324024202_ncommodity. I am forever in debt for you all bringing the crazy traffic jam in my head to life. And to all who attend to watch this cacophony of polished madness, thank you. What a gift to have you all.” Shucks folks.

What’s next Chelsea Smiles? No it’s Black Marquee. Like we said it’s hard to tell tonight. So many switch hitters. Kevin Bombay removes the shirt and goes classic 80s metal look – vest only black leather. It worked.

We noticed a little bit of redecorating in the Viper Room for their big upcoming party week. They took down that big gaudy mirror that had the beer menu written on it, Lee the bartender told us “they took it over to Pink Taco.” Vast improvement, if you ask us.

Like around 11:30ish with Black Marquee’s latest video “Wolves to Wallflowers” flickering on the wall next to the stage (Watch Here) mirroring the live performance – you couldn’t tell one from the other. So interactive. Like playing GTA with guitars. Black Marquee does justice to their music and to their outfits and haircuts. Fully fleshed out and polished.

Lead singer & guitar, Skye Vaughan-Jayne a born performer who clearly loves to entertain with little bit of Bowie and a little bit of John Lennon and a whole lot of blue-eyed soul. Arms angled upward and head sliding back-and-forth like a Cambodian dancer one minute and a fire and brimstone reverend preaching the gospel the next. Exotic and on fire.

The performance was spontaneous and meticulous. Pop Rock black denim and this time we noticed how similar Skye VJ’s is to the late Johnny Winter;  high-end texture, rough and raggedy. Finally asking the crowd, “Do you love The Damned?” The obvious answer was a cover of “I Got a New Rose.”

Up last around Midnight, the beloved Chelsea Smiles looking as lean and mean as ever. Fan & friend Kevin T. Miller was nice enough to post a nifty video of song “Two Steps Back” with SVJ singing lead. This is what you missed… (Watch Here) …. nyah, nyah, nyah.

To be brief, Chelsea Smiles killed it.

Next week, it gets bigger and better at The Viper Room. Twenty-one and counting.