Archive for the ‘SA’ Category

Step out of your comfort zone

By
July 23rd, 2014



JAMES GARRETT / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISERThe inaugural Diner en Blanc brought hundreds of hungry guests to the grounds of 'Iolani Palace for dinner and dancing.

JAMES GARRETT / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

The inaugural Diner en Blanc brought hundreds of hungry guests to the grounds of 'Iolani Palace for dinner and dancing.

Some of us can be real hypocrites. Myself included. We all talk about wanting something new, something different, celebrating change and all that, yet something comes along that’s even a little bit out of the norm and nobody wants to try it.

You see an event happening and go to the Facebook event page or someone’s Instagram post while it’s happening and ask if it’s crowded. You hear about a new restaurant and see a photo of a killer meal and ask, “what’s the verdict?”

JAMES GARRETT / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISERGuests at Diner en Blanc were required to bring their own tables, chairs and linens to the popup dinner party — as well as clean up after themselves when the event was finished.

JAMES GARRETT / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

Guests at Diner en Blanc were required to bring their own tables, chairs and linens to the popup dinner party — as well as clean up after themselves when the event was finished.

Lord help us all if we want to actually take that leap to actually try for ourselves. If everyone is waiting for someone else to try something to validate if they should or not then what does that make us?

There are more examples, but I’m specifically talking about last weekend's Dinner en Blanc. I know many have heard of it now after seeing it all over Instagram and here on the Pulse, after-the-fact photos of a magical dinner where everyone was decked out in all white dining together in some sort of upscale picnic setting in front of ‘Iolani Palace.

I knew about it because some friends were hosting but still wasn’t too interested.

“Who wants to go to dinner where we have to bring our own dinner, table, and chairs?” I thought. That just sounded like too much to deal with.

There were half-hearted inquiries among my close friends to try it out, all met with a “nah.” Dressing in all-white is one of those things where it’s nice once everyone is at the party, but getting there is a huge headache. You pretty much always have to buy something new because of how turnt up you got at the LAST white party. Then there is the whole paying to bring everything to a party where you don’t even get to drive — a.k.a. feeling stranded and not in control of when you get to dip out.

The table settings were elaborate and beautiful (Courtesy Emma De Vries)

COURTESY EMMAM DE VRIES

Table settings were elaborate and beautiful at Diner en Blanc.

Not knowing where the party is, not knowing what setting it would be, seeing a huge rain storm headed straight for Honolulu; all of these factors were turning this big mystery French concept in to a jaunt that was downright laughable for me and my friends.

The joke turned out to be on all of us.

I was fortunate enough to get booked to play music for the adventurers who signed up, so I still was able to experience the event, even if it was from a DJ standpoint. The second I found out the mystery location was in fact the most enchanting place possible on Oahu, I knew we blew it.

When I got to ‘Iolani Palace everyone was already set at their tables they brought and probably about halfway through their dinner. I was blown away by the lengths people went to make the event special. Save for the glorious setting of the palace grounds, the entire event was what it was because of the people there. Tables, linens, beautiful centerpieces, fresh flowers, table settings, glassware and décor by the hundreds was everywhere, plus all the people dressed to the nines in white.

The best part was how many different types of people were there. All ages, backgrounds and social circles were lined up, smiling and dining. Everyone was so blown away by what they were actually doing that the entire sacred grounds felt alive with a vibrant energy. I was completely blown away.

As soon as I could find co-host Malie Moran I gave her the biggest hug. She was risk-taker numero uno for this whole thing, in a way very similar to how I helped bring Pow! Wow! to Honolulu. She was in Los Angeles taking in that city's Diner en Blanc in 2013, immediately falling in love and becoming inspired.

JAMES GARRETT / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISERThe author at work on the turntables at Diner en Blanc.

JAMES GARRETT / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

The author at work on the turntables at Diner en Blanc.

So she made it happen. Despite all the risks. She didn’t do it alone though. Maleko McDonnell and Aubrey Akana also worked tirelessly to educate the foreign concept to as many people as they could. The result was 750 people going the extra mile to bring the event together, with hundreds of posts online and a tremendous amount of FOMO (fear of missing out) among those who didn’t sign up.

When I asked Malie when the next one is, she said it’s a secret. But you can count on this event becoming a thing in Honolulu, especially because of how many people immediately jumped in to try it out.

Thank God for those people. I appreciate you. I want to be one of you. I would like to think I am but I know that sometimes I am not. I am definitely chalking this one up as a lesson learned.

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for Pow! Wow! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

The show must go on

By
July 16th, 2014



Everything I was working on last week came to a screeching halt on Thursday when one of my worst nightmares came true.

Dear friend and trusted colleague Matt Bendik was found dead in his Philadelphia hotel room by a maid while on a business trip. He was there checking out the nightlife, looking to expand his already healthy portfolio of successful nightclubs. Honolulu knows him as the young nightlife tycoon who opened Addiction Nightclub after being hired by the Modern Honolulu as a third party entity to totally re-brand and manage the club formerly known as Crazybox.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIER The author and Matt Bendik in 2011,

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIER

The author and Matt Bendik in 2011,

Of course, I had to get the news from Twitter after seeing multiple “RIP @MattBendik” updates. I had been wondering why I hadn’t heard back from him that day. He usually gets right back to me, often calling the minute he lands in Honolulu to meet up for lunch or dinner. I missed his recent Honolulu trip, getting a text while in Taiwan that he was back in town.

“Bummer!” is the last text I ever got from him.

Before any of us could even take the time to process the information or grieve properly, we had a new promotion to execute at his club. It was the first night of a new monthly called “So Fancy!” that features an all-female DJ lineup every second Thursday of the month.

Hours before the doors were to open I was reaching out to the club’s managers, trying to figure out our next step.

Are we really going to go through with this? How?

It’s true, only a handful of people outside the Addiction staff would even really know Bendik. In every sense of the phrase, the show must go on. If anything, that’s what Matt — the utmost professional — would have wanted.

It was going to be the toughest night of our lives.

A rush of thoughts poured over me driving to the Modern that night. I thought of Bendik's beautiful girlfriend, “Glee” star Becca Tobin; he was head over heels in love with her and often brought her to Honolulu.

photo 1I thought about a lunch we had together in the courtyard of Du Vin, not knowing why people were staring at her until much later. I remembered how deliriously in love they both were and how happy I was for my friend.

I thought of his business partner and good friend Tyler Dickinson, who has taken on more responsibilities as they worked on more and more projects in Los Angeles. How he told me on a trip to the North Shore that he got the job working for Bendik by simply reaching out and asking how he could help, similar to the way Bendik got his first-ever nightlife job when he was still a freshman in high school.

I thought of every single person who works at Addiction, just about all of them hand-picked by Bendik himself. I thought about the multiple staff swaps Bendik had done with his Los Angeles club staff and was planning to do with the Honolulu staff. There were so many people in Honolulu who owe this man so much, and now he is gone.

Meanwhile, the news was traveling fast in the outside world. The story was picked up by every major (and minor) celebrity news source. By the time I got to the Modern, the story had become the number one trending topic on Facebook. Unfortunately for many friends, it’s also how they found out.

The shock I was feeling was mirrored by the rest of the staff, many too stunned to grieve. But the doors were set to open and people soon began pouring into the nightclub. A video projection image created by Addiction barback Alex Kim rotated the promotion’s logos set against a background of the blue sky with floating clouds. Every once in a while the words “We Love You Matt” would slowly come on the screen. Luckily, Kim had gotten the news as he was creating the video file and was able to make this simple yet momentous message for the night. It was beautiful.

Shortly after 2 a.m. that night, the club raised the lights and the host Roxy on the Mic led a quick moment of silence for Bendik. Save for the staff, many had no idea. Everyone was quiet at that moment while we remembered our friend.

COURTESY CHRIS KAYSDJ Zilla performs at Addiction Nightclub as a message to Matt Bendik is displayed on the screen the night he died.

COURTESY CHRIS KAYS

DJ Zilla performs at Addiction Nightclub as a message to Matt Bendik is displayed on the screen the night he died.

Everyone runs their clubs different, but Bendik put quality of service before everything. Design, operations, entertainment — nothing came before the guest experience. When he opened Addiction in December 2011, he heard pool parties were all the rage, so he arranged to have one every week that month. He was never afraid to take an idea outside the box if it meant doing something impactful. Each holiday, each event had to be better than the next.

Above everything, he personally took so much pride in the level of service he provided. The weekends that Bendik was in Honolulu, he would be at the front in his suit, walking the VIPs up to the bar, buying them a round and having a bit of conversation with them before going back downstairs. He was never above greeting anyone in this fashion. Just last week, I heard a club manager say they wanted to be at the same level as Addiction, yet they completely overlooked this simple yet effective quality.

How you treat people is so very important. It’s reflected in your club’s vibe. This is what keeps the right people coming back. Bendik knew this.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIERHanging out at Bendik's house in Los Angeles with Kristina Kova in 2010. He deeply admired the Russian DJ who was "gifted at the art" of running the door at a nightclub. (Christa WIttmier)

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIER

Hanging out at Bendik's house in Los Angeles with Kristina Kova in 2010. He deeply admired the Russian DJ who was "gifted at the art" of running the door at a nightclub.

Bendik never batted an eyelash while accompanying me to events around town, often handing me his phone and saying, “here, post something cool on my social media,” while making sure to greet everyone I introduced him to with a warm handshake and his business card.

“Call me if you ever need anything,” he would tell people.

Matt’s confidence came from operating some of Los Angeles’s most elite nightclubs in addition to the one in Waikiki. He has literally worked every job possible in a club since before he even graduated high school. I remember being a bit intimidated to work with him at first, but winding up incredibly empowered by his support and appreciation for even the smallest things I could do to help his business.

One of his favorite proverbs became mine as well: “Speak well of your friends, of your enemies say nothing.”

At this point we still do not know what caused his death. What we do know is the autopsy was inconclusive, meaning there was no definitive trauma or organ failure.

Some are presumptuously citing stress as a possible cause. Those of us who know and work with Matt knew he definitely had a lot on his plate, but also had a very relaxed and methodical approach to everything. It’s why we all admired him so much. We all knew him to be extremely moderate in his drinking habits and he never did drugs. That’s why it’s still so shocking.

Whatever the cause, it was definitely too soon and will take a long time to fully accept. He leaves so much behind. The next time you are in Addiction take a minute to reflect on what he has done and remember Matt Bendik.

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

RELATED VIDEO:

Avoiding the dreaded B-word

By
July 9th, 2014



With summer in full swing and another action-packed Independence Day holiday weekend in the books, it’s only fitting the first question people ask me is, “When do you sleep?”

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIEROne look at Pulse blogger Christa Wittmier's schedule from July 4 and you can tell it was a busy day.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIER

One look at Pulse blogger Christa Wittmier's schedule from July 4 and you can tell it was a busy day.

My answer is standard: Whenever I can, as often as I can.

I know I’m not the only one with a full schedule. In fact, it’s actually pretty lenient considering I don’t have a family to look after. Things usually don't start out that bad, but as the week moves on more and more appointments in my calendar get filled with work obligations, community obligations, friend obligations, nightlife things I want to do and nightlife things I want to try.

The more we take on, the more at risk we become to suffer from the dreaded word I’m almost too scared to even mention: Burnout. It’s a very dangerous ailment, one I suffered from years ago and made a commitment to myself that I will never allow to happen again.

A lot of people mistake everyday fatigue for burnout, but there are very real symptoms and warning signs that can alert you to change your lifestyle immediately.

The first and most important is your state of mind. How cynical are you? Is everything you’re dealing with making you even more irritated or hopeless? Have you lost interest in everything? Do you feel like nothing you do is appreciated? These are serious warning signs.

Many of us are stretched thin and stressed out. This is often a motivator to keep going. The dangerous line between too much stress and burning out is the giving up part. Wanting to isolate yourself from everyone and not handle your responsibilities is not normal.

The good news? There is quite a bit you can do to take care of yourself and your mental state to prevent burnout. My favorite and definitely my most utilized method is to foster my creative side. Stimulating my right brain as much as possible with music, art and emotion is the most powerful antidote to combat any stress. That’s about all I need — besides as much sleep as much as I can, whenever I can, of course.

Another way to reduce the risk of burning out is to start your day with a relaxing ritual. For me, it’s hitting snooze then rushing to sit in my car for a half hour, but having a nice relaxing CD in my car stereo is good enough for now. If you are able to get up with 10-15 minutes to spare and can take that time to work on meditation or quiet activity, you will be saving yourself colossally.

One practice that offers the greatest benefits – and the one I saw a drastic change for the better with personally after trying it myself – is eating right and making sure to exercise. It only takes about two weeks of doing something repeatedly for it to become a habit, and improving my diet and getting active literally changed my life.

Not only was it about dropping weight, but the changes resulted in me sleeping better, approaching things more positively and just having a much better overall outlook on everything after only a few weeks. The hardest part is taking the first step, but I’m telling you, after that everything falls in to place. You can do it.

Summer isn’t usually a stressful time, but take this blog post as a good opportunity to think about how to be prepared for the end of the year when things typically pick up. Just think, if you start now you'll be fit and healthy and happy by the time the holidays roll around — and then you can eat and drink and celebrate as much as you want!

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Snapchat eases EDC angst

By
June 25th, 2014



COURTESY JORDAN SHIRAKIHUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC FANS — INCLUDING SOME FROM HAWAII — WERE IN LAS VEGAS LAST WEEKEND FOR THE 2014 ELECTRONIC DAISY CARNIVAL.

COURTESY JORDAN SHIRAKI

HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC FANS, INCLUDING SOME FROM HAWAII, WERE IN LAS VEGAS LAST WEEKEND FOR THE 2014 ELECTRONIC DAISY CARNIVAL.

Honolulu’s nightlife may or may not have been affected by the Electric Daisy Carnival last weekend in Las Vegas, but the fact that some of the busiest spots always have one of their slowest weekends year after year at this time, you can’t help but blame the popular music festival.

COURTESY RICK SHIBASAKIELEMENT GROUP'S "PRETTY" RICKY SHIBASAKI WITH PARIS HILTON AT EDC VEGAS LAST WEEKEND. SHIBASAKI IS AN AVID USER OF SMARTPHONE MESSAGING APP SNAPCHAT.

COURTESY RICK SHIBASAKI

ELEMENT GROUP'S "PRETTY" RICKY SHIBASAKI WITH PARIS HILTON AT EDC VEGAS LAST WEEKEND. SHIBASAKI IS AN AVID USER OF SOCIAL MEDIA TO SHARE HIS PARTY ADVENTURES.

With so many local people constantly posting and updating from the full sensory overload of 400,000 people from 40 countries all partying together, I’m surprised the Internet wasn’t completely shut down. There was music in all electronic forms, from the deepest to the brightest and everything in between, with lights, pyrotechnics, costumes and art installations.

For the rest of us stuck thumbing through social media coverage on our smartphones, the whole fear of missing out (FOMO) concept was taken to a whole new level.

Enter Snapchat. This is a bit of a quirky app I have fallen in love with this past year, mainly after following the news about how they are shaking up Silicon Valley with their almost-impossible-for-the-old-school-to-understand technology and turned down a $3 billion cash offer from Facebook.

“Not everyone can create an app that perfectly captures the ephemeral and fluid nature of human communication” a spoof letter from 24 year old CEO Evan Spiegel to Mark “Zuckerbro” read that circulated the tech blogs like wildfire.

According to this post, Snapchat is the application where young people (70% female, the hardest to engage but most influential) are spending all their time.

As a marketing professional, I was determined to understand it. Now I am addicted. I am one of those people publishing to My Story incessantly. Strings of videos and photo snaps can now all be tied together into a never-ending narrative.

COURTESY KIANI YAMAMOTONEON INDIAN: MODEL KIANI YAMAMOTO AT EDC VEGAS LAST WEEKEND VIA SNAPCHAT.

COURTESY KIANI YAMAMOTO

NEON INDIAN: MODEL KIANI YAMAMOTO AT EDC VEGAS LAST WEEKEND VIA SNAPCHAT.

Our Story is the latest from Snapchat, allowing users in the same geographical area to post their snaps to a shared story, giving the viewers an amazing multi-faceted perspective of the event from all angles.

Coming from the era of lengthy 100-photo blog posts each week, I’m feeling right at home. It’s my evolution.

While still relatively new to Hawaii, a place where images are already so beautiful and should last longer than 24 hours, there are some who are still catching on. I was able to enjoy EDC from my couch via streaming video for the high definition artist performances and in the trenches via their community story called Our EDC Story.

I was watching the music festival from the Ferris wheel, backstage, right in the front, all the way in the back, smack-dab in the middle, on the way there, in line, at the pre-parties, at the post-parties. It was the best way to experience EDC without having to actually go. Bravo, Snapchat!

“We wanted to build something that offered a community perspective,” they wrote on their blog last week. “If you can’t make it to an event, watching Our Story makes you feel like you’re right there.”

There’s no question, technology is changing us. I’m just as irritated as the next person when I walk into a room where everyone's faces are buried in their phones. Yet I’m also the person who has this burning desire to share experiences with as many people as possible.

After using the software for a while, it definitely feels more natural. So many people have fallaciously tried to turn their lives into a personal brand, which can often lead to a diluted sense of self.

This is the app that feels more genuine. This is what’s happening. Not what you want to have happen. Not what you want others to believe. Thanks for making the road a bit straighter for us, guys.

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

RELATED VIDEO:

Posted in SA | No Comments »

Bring on the sexy

By
June 18th, 2014



I think I found the answer to Honolulu's hot summer nights. Burlesque! Sexy live performances by well-trained theatrical vixens confidently peeling it all off in the dark, cool confines of the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art could be just what you need.

COURTESY VIOLETTA BERETTAHAWAII BURLESQUE SENSATION VIOLETTA BERETTA HAS BEEN KNOWN TO DROP JAWS — AND DRAWERS.

2014 HAWAII BURLESQUE FESTIVAL & REVUE

Presented by Violetta Beretta and Cherry Blossom Cabaret

» Where: The Doris Duke Theatre, 900 S. Beretania St.

» When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (cocktail hour starts at 6 p.m.); additional workshops Thursday, see HBF website for details

» Cost: $35 general admission ($30 for HMA members); $45 and $60 VIP tickets also available

» Info: hawaiiburlesquefestival.com, honolulumuseum.org

The Hawaii Burlesque Festival happens Friday and Saturday, but really kicks off on Thursday with a series of dance and striptease workshops. Now in its third year, the workshops are again the silent assassin, with classes like Intro to Shake Dancing and Booty Rock Twerkshop.

The pros are sharing their talents to anyone brave enough to learn, and the result — besides one hell of a presence on the dance floor — is positive body awareness, more self-confidence and ability to take yourself less seriously. That equals the kind of sexy that can’t be faked. They are essentially teaching you how to become your best you.

Talking to HBF producer/director and Cherry Blossom Cabaret president Violetta Beretta (she prefers not to use her real name), it’s hard for me to concentrate on anything but my memory of the first time I saw her perform. It was at Nextdoor almost eight years ago and her grace and beauty on stage literally stopped my heart. I remember glancing around the room and seeing everyone else with the same jaw-dropped gaze and deduced that this girl was simply not human. She must be some kind an angel from outer space. She must.

I'll never forget when she came to one of my birthday parties with tiniest gift bag I ever saw. When I opened it to reveal a gorgeous set of red fabric pasties, she winked and told me, "I'll show you how to use these one day."

They are still sitting on top of my dresser, reminding me that it's completely okay to channel my inner sexy.

COURTESY KIT KAT CLUB CABARETMAUI'S KIT KAT CLUB CABARET WILL BE AMONG THE 40-PLUS PERFORMERS AT THIS WEEKEND'S THIRD ANNUAL HAWAII BURLESQUE FESTIVAL.

COURTESY KIT KAT CLUB CABARET

MAUI'S KIT KAT CLUB CABARET WILL BE AMONG THE 40-PLUS PERFORMERS AT THIS WEEKEND'S THIRD ANNUAL HAWAII BURLESQUE FESTIVAL.

A highly intelligent and even harder working vixen, Beretta recently moved back to Honolulu after a stint in Portland and is focusing on the HBF and her burlesque troupe. Cherry Blossom Cabaret is in between trips to perform on the mainland and in “Alice in Chinatown” at the ARTS at Marks Garage (it's a must-see). With a lot of other projects in the works, including larger scale shows, a book and expanding the HBF to the neighbor islands, you could say she’s a bit of a busy bee.

Included in the massive lineup of over 40 performers, this year’s festival will also welcome international burlesque sensation Peekaboo Pointe, who has been repeatedly listed in the Top 50 Burlesque Performers by 21st Century Burlesque. Known as the “Fastest Tassel-Twirler from East to West,” this classically-trained dancer you may have seen on the CW network’s “Gossip Girl” also holds a Golden Pastie for Most Sensual Performer.

Including special guests and neighbor island entertainers is wonderful, but our local troupe's talent is remarkable in itself, as I often find myself marveling at how much work they put in to their costumes and performances. It’s truly a spectacle and I’m never disappointed.

“When I started the Hawaii Burlesque Festival the main thing I wanted to do was put on a great show for our local people and entertain them with all sorts of wonderful, exciting, beautiful and crazy acts from around the world and Hawaii,” Beretta said. “I also wanted to be able to showcase the amazing amount of talent we have in our local performers.

“It's tremendous and I'm happy to say we've got the finest in Hawaii burlesque ready and waiting to entertain and enrapture!”

Check the HBF website for more details about this week's events — and somewhat-safe-for-work photos of all the performers!

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Posted in SA | No Comments »

Lux makes lasting impression

By
June 11th, 2014



KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISERA GREAT WEEKEND WITH GREAT FRIENDS WAS CAPPED OFF BY THE GREY GOOSE SUMMER CLUB AT THE MODERN HONOLULU ON SUNDAY.

KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

A GREAT WEEKEND WITH GREAT FRIENDS WAS CAPPED OFF BY THE GREY GOOSE SUMMER CLUB AT THE MODERN HONOLULU ON SUNDAY.

It’s not often I find myself dizzy with exhilaration after a weekend out. This is a good thing though — it makes me appreciate the Mondays where I’m like, whoa.

Seriously. This past weekend was whoa.

It was probably because it was my first one back in Honolulu for a while. The dust had finally settled from helping produce a huge pool party a few weeks ago and taking a trip to Asia earlier this month. That stuff took a lot out of me.

It also helped that it was First Friday, which is becoming more and more of a thing (again), now that there is so much to see and do in Chinatown.

When the lines stretch out for Bar 35 and Manifest, some of us know the right corners to dip into — this month being The Jump Offs' frontman Landon Tom’s debut art show, a chillingly creative photo collage installation at The Human Imagination — and then everyone congregates back in the street.

There’s literally something for everyone. It’s really a great night out. Avoiding crowds for me is more to avoid drunk people who tend to get too mouthy or handsy, so the open air of the street and delightful nooks and crannies of the neighborhood make this night one of my favorites of the entire month.

COURTESY ORRIN NAKANELUA"HE'S SO GORGEOUS," I HEARD SOMEONE SAY BEHIND ME AS ADRIAN LUX PERFORMED AT THE REPUBLIK ON SATURDAY.

COURTESY ORRIN NAKANELUA

"HE'S SO GORGEOUS," I HEARD SOMEONE SAY BEHIND ME AS ADRIAN LUX PERFORMED AT THE REPUBLIK ON SATURDAY.

First Friday was great, but Saturday was even better as I listened to Sweedish producer Adrian Lux’s new EP, “Make Out,” while getting ready to talk to him before his show at The Republik.

It wasn’t my first time getting excited over this artist, as he tends to produce music in a very approachable, beautiful way that I find I can connect with. I was in Cabo for his Electric Palms appearance, watching him expertly command the crowd of spring breakers.

I was safely tucked back in the DJ booth with him, but could see hundreds of young girls swooning over the tall, lanky, blond ex-model who knew the precise moments to bring the music's tempo down, then back up again. He definitely knows how to feel out a crowd.

His Grammy Award-nominated single, “Teenage Crime,” sat perfectly atop one of my “Best of” mixes a few years ago as a track I couldn’t stop listening to. His music just flows with the kind of grace that makes you feel like it’s the soundtrack to your amazing day/life.

With his latest EP, I'm hearing a lot Lux's style of catching everything my ears want to hear when I’m listening to progressive house. More melodic, more accessible and beautiful. Songs you remember. Songs that stand out.

COURTESY ORRIN NAKANELUASWEDISH PRODUCER ADRIAN LUX FEELING THE CROWD'S LOVE WHILE ON STAGE AT THE REPUBLIK ON SATURDAY.

COURTESY ORRIN NAKANELUA

SWEDISH PRODUCER ADRIAN LUX FEELING THE CROWD'S LOVE WHILE ON STAGE AT THE REPUBLIK ON SATURDAY.

“Rain” is the first track on the EP and immediately pulls me in from the second I hear the light musical phrasing. I know it’s going to be a more vibey, indie sounding ride than a hard-hitting, barely understandable progressive journey. I love it.

Pretty melodies and flowing rhythms in “Rain” give way to more anthemy “festival”sound in “Smoke & Mirrors” until the vocals and the darker yet penetrating bridge of “Sooner or Later” — the EP's first single and already one of my favorite tracks of the year — make me realize this is something meant to be listened to from beginning to end.

It’s telling a story, and all I can see is Adrian’s visual environment of high fashion, glamorous parties, beautiful art and his deep house past as creative influences.

“I experiment a lot in the studio,” Lux said before taking the stage on Saturday, as opening DJ Massfunk's progressive set pounded through The Republik's sound system.

“When I go in there I try to be as non-restrict as possible. I think a lot of good things come when you just let go. And you don’t really care what the outcome is.”

“Sooner or Later” came out of his 2013 Australian tour, where he mostly worked in short bursts of studio time while on the road. The track’s vocalist, Kaelyn Behr, is a good friend and Lux would send ideas for chords from the road for him to put vocal melodies over.

COURTESY ORRIN NAKANELUATHE AUTHOR INTERVIEWS ADRIAN LUX BACKSTAGE AT THE REPUBLIK ON SATURDAY.

COURTESY ORRIN NAKANELUA

THE AUTHOR INTERVIEWS ADRIAN LUX BACKSTAGE AT THE REPUBLIK ON SATURDAY.

“It was fun because we made it on the tour, and by the end of the tour I started playing it out and got to see the reactions,” he said. “It was very good! It’s more intimate and it has more of an underground feel to it (debuting music that way).”

The track is definitely deeper house, but still bright enough to hold its own for daytime vibes. I know I’m totally going to try this track at my pool parties this summer. I love it when musicians go outside of the box.

“Artists serve themselves best when they really look into themselves,” Lux said. “That’s how they can develop, and that’s the ones that usually do the best.

“I experiment a lot in the studio. When I go in there I try to be as non-restrict as possible. I think a lot of good things come when you just let go. And you don’t really care what the outcome is.

“There’s a lot of A&Rs and producers and they try to figure out music before it’s happened like, ‘We’ll put this together with this artist and it will sound like that and that will be great!’, but you know you can’t really do magic like that.

“You have to go in to the studio with no expectations try a vibe and whatever feels good, that’s what you gotta do. Hopefully the outcome is really cool.”

Saturday's show was fantastic, and everyone there was feeling his vibe and music. With great support from Jeff Phantom and Massfunk, expect to see more great EDM artists coming through Hawaii with the partnership of Collective Effort and BAMP Project.

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Posted in Music, SA | No Comments »

Let's go crazy

By
June 4th, 2014



As I traveled back to Hawaii from Asia this week, I couldn't stop thinking about something I saw on CNN International one morning when I was up too early in my hotel.

The anchors were talking to Andy McNab, a full-fledged psychopath who has found success in business and was on the network promoting his new book, “The Good Psychopath's Guide to Success.” I was suffering the effects from the day and a half time difference, but immediately pulled out of my narcoleptic fog when they teased the story.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIER

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIER

The following segment talked about something I'd already known, but learned the hard way throughout adulthood. They basically said it was okay to be a psychopath, even going so far as to find the positive in it. They even published a quiz online to see if you're one, too.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m crazy. I really do think we all are. Some of us are just better at suppressing it than others.

Some have had to learn to accept the struggle of real life early on, or what we like to call “matured.” Some were raised by two parents who loved them. More and more people of my generation and those younger than me were not.

While true psychosis is a serious neurological disease, these broken families have resulted in a new type of person who doesn't know how love, or care to. These people think others don't matter; only material wealth and power does.

These are the things that make these people happy, and without compassion or the need for human empathy they believe they can move much further ahead in business than others. Their hope, essentially, is to become more successful in the long run.

When I lived in Europe there was something very different about living in the mainland U.S. But it wasn’t until I moved to Hawaii and saw the same thing that I started to make the connection between multiple generations living under the same roof and the types of young adults those homes produced.

In both places, it's widely accepted to live with your family into adulthood, and sometimes forever. You just don’t see this too often in larger U.S. cities and suburbs, especially where I grew up. Kids were running away from their homes as fast as they could the second the clock struck midnight on their 18th birthdays, with some even figuring out how to emancipate themselves earlier. Divorce and bad marriages really took their toll on my generation.

In Europe and Hawaii, I’ve seen families take care of each other for every segment of their lives from birth until death. I always believed this is why there isn’t as much violent crime. Strong families stimulate chemical reactions that cause happiness in the human brain. Happy people don’t kill other people.

As I shake off the fogginess of traveling and settle back into life at home in Honolulu, I keep thinking about the psychopaths running our world.

While I don’t think there’s ever going to be a time I can get to their level mentally (I scored a 3 on the quiz), I do have respect for the personality type who knows how to make the hard decisions for the sake of their company. If all the world’s top companies were run by a bunch of softies, we might be in even bigger trouble than we are now. At least there’s hope.

In any case, I missed Hawaii dearly while I was away and can’t wait to dive into June and beyond. Every day I wake up and get to go to work, I'm grateful I'm not in a position that requires as much psychosis as it does just plain hard work.

I’ve accepted the fact there are people out there who will never be loyal, and people who are only close to me when it benefits them. Being aware of it, accepting it, and working around it is how I stay sane.

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Posted in SA | No Comments »

Hara prepares for Miss USA adventure

By
May 14th, 2014



STAR-ADVERTISER / OCT. 13 MOANI HARA REACTS AS SHE'S CROWNED MISS HAWAII USA ON OCT. 13. HARA DEPARTS FOR LOUISIANA NEXT MONTH TO TAKE PART IN THE NATIONAL MISS USA PAGEANT.

STAR-ADVERTISER / OCT. 13

MOANI HARA REACTS AS SHE'S CROWNED MISS HAWAII USA ON OCT. 13. HARA DEPARTS FOR LOUISIANA NEXT MONTH TO TAKE PART IN THE NATIONAL MISS USA PAGEANT.

Moani Hara is the opposite of a Monet. The closer you get, the more flawless she becomes.

I was caught off-guard as we walked through the mall recently when she got in to a very quiet — but very obvious — confrontation with an older beauty consultant standing in the middle of a store we passed through.

MISS HAWAII USA

SEND-OFF PARTY

Hosted by Moani Hara with entertainment by Makana and

Aidan James

» Where: M Nightclub, 500 Ala Moana Blvd.

» When: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday

» Cost: $30

» Info: (808) 627-2440

Hara had turned heads from the second we walked in, and once people realized her conversation with the consultant wasn’t exactly pleasant I saw heads tilting, trying to listen in. I clumsily fielded some emails on my phone, trying to be respectful of the situation. I wasn’t sure if it was an auntie scolding her or a more serious conversation, but I definitely didn’t want to know.

“Sorry about that,” she said a few minutes later as we walked down an escalator. “I really don’t like it when people try to test my character.”

It was at that moment that I genuinely respected the girl. The fact she would take a minute, no matter who is watching, to stand up for herself reflected a realness that rocked me to my core.

Sure, I know Moani. Not as Miss Hawaii USA, but as a loyal friend to many. Whether it’s helping makeup artist Kecia Littman paint faces at an Empire of the Sun concert or checking in guests for Flash Hansen at his New Year’s Eve party, there isn't anything the beauty queen wouldn't do if it was for a friend.

I personally only know her from a distance, but that’s quite comfortable for me considering her complete knockout presence. Talking with her more, I immediately understood she is a woman who has been through a lot. Hara has put much work into herself and is more self-aware than a lot of today's social media-scrolling lovelies who may be a bit too obsessed with everyone else’s lives.

COURTESY MOANI HARAHARA AT PREVENT CHILD ABUSE HAWAII'S PINWHEELS FOR PREVENTION EVENT EARLIER THIS YEAR.

COURTESY MOANI HARA

HARA AT PREVENT CHILD ABUSE HAWAII'S PINWHEELS FOR PREVENTION EVENT EARLIER THIS YEAR.

Basically, the girl’s got depth.

“I like the idea that Miss Hawaii USA is about being confidant and beautiful,” she said. “When I entered this year I had no intention of winning; I just really wanted to have fun and to see how far I could push myself.”

The result was a win that will take her to the national Miss USA competition in Baton Rouge, La. on June 8.

Some still get the Miss USA and Miss America pageants confused. The Miss USA pageant is more of a beauty and personality competition, while Miss America includes talent and scholastic competitions.

“Miss Hawaii USA is more getting to know yourself,” said Hara, who has participated in both pageants. “Really having your own opinions on different topics, whether it’s political or not, they just really want to get to know who you are.”

Our lunch meeting was her fourth or fifth appointment already that day. She said she's usually up at 5 a.m. for fittings, interviews, a workout or community events.

“It really teaches you to dig deep.” she said. “Going in to any situation, you have to have a purpose. If you don’t have a purpose there’s never really going to be a positive outcome.

“If you’re just doing it just because or just whatever, I don’t think that that’s acceptable. I think you have to have a drive. You have to have something that’s making you want to do the best that you can do.

“I used to be really shy and very timid. I was introverted at times. When I started doing Miss Hawaii USA it really made me dig deep. I have to show my personality and have to really be comfortable with myself and in tune with my own heart and my own soul.”

COURTESY MOANI HARAHARA WITH HER PARENTS, GEORGE AND ROBYN.

COURTESY MOANI HARA

HARA WITH HER PARENTS, GEORGE AND ROBYN.

With just a few weeks to go before the national pageant, Hara is beginning to feel the crunch.

“(I'm) very stressed, but also very anxious and excited,” she said. “A bunch of different feelings right now all at once, but it’s definitely positive. I’m just trying to really keep focused. I think what’s really stressing me out right now is just the uncertainty.

“I’m really looking forward to the experience in itself, meeting the girls and meeting Donald Trump and the entire organization.”

Hara is up against 50 equally stunning and confidant women next month, but I hope the judges see what I saw during our time together. Scrolling through the contestants now that I know her, I really do think she has a chance to take it all. I will definitely be watching.

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Posted in SA | No Comments »

Hawaii Gets De Lux

By
May 7th, 2014



What kind of duo gets so much buzz over their upcoming EP that they are repeatedly proclaimed the Best Band of 2014 before the year is even half over?

De Lux perform in Honolulu for the first time Saturday May 10th (Courtesy photo)

DE LUX

Presented by Spells Hawaii

» Where: Nextdoor, 43 N. Hotel St.

» When: 9 p.m. May 10

» Cost: $20 general admission ($15 presale tickets available)

» Info: deluxshowhawaii.brownpapertickets.com

It's fitting one of those publications is the Guardian out of the U.K. Listening to De Lux, I immediately thought of British legends The Kinks (but only from the vocals).

The lively rock sound these two produce is timeless, drudging up tons of nostalgia from when I had the Talking Heads' "Speaking in Tongues" on repeat as a kid.

De Lux is a band with a refreshing sound full of instrumentation. They are signed to Innovative Leisure, which is known as a prodigy label as far as independent record labels go. Starting out as more of an art project, the most familiar names (besides co-owner Jamie Strong of The Do-Over) would be Classixx, Noasj Thing and crooner Rhye.

The label is a product of three partners, two of which are Strong and Nate Nelson, who worked together at Stones Throw Records but needed a more creative outlet than what the underground hip-hop label owned by Peanut Butter Wolf offered.

As Innovative Leisure, Strong and Nelson, along with third partner (and HUF Creative Director) El Khatib, are able to stretch their wings. They've signed a roster of some amazing talent, including the most notable project in the company's four year history, El Khatib's "Can't Win Them All," which was picked up for an Audi commercial during the 2013 NFL Super Bowl. That deal paid for the production of Khatib's album before it was even released.

De Lux was discovered in Los Angeles by DJ Delve at the Echo; the set he heard was electrifying and he was so blown away by their performance that he turned Spells Hawaii promoter Ken Selders on to them.

Delve is sort of like E.F. Hutton when it comes to music; a tastemaker with an endless catalog in his brain of every genre that exists.

"I've heard this before,” and “I love this" are common reactions when seeing Delve play.

ALT/AIR perform with De Lux on Saturday (Mark Kushimi)

Alt/Air will open for De Lux on Saturday. (Courtesy Mark Kushimi)

Watching him spin when there's not a huge crowd is by far the best time to hear what he can do, as that's when he really flexes his muscles and displays a never-ending appreciation for music as a whole. He can flawlessly go from Diana Ross to Slick Rick to Hot Chip to Cypress Hill, then back to the Four Tops.

Spells is known by many as the curator of unique listening experiences within the city. Artistic visuals paired with acts most would only dream of seeing sets the crew apart. You only need to know its their show — not necessarily who the headliner is. Their most notable shows include Tokimonsta, Com Truise and most recently, Machinedrum.

De Lux will be in good company on Saturday night, as local dream team Alt/Air will help warm up the crowd. Producer Brandon Udani has been busy working on tracks on Soundcloud, but is also making new music with vocalist Aly Ishikuni for their long-running music project that usually features lasers and robots.

Also on the bill is DJ Delve and Spells resident DJ Seeko.

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Posted in SA | No Comments »

Painted Highways reunites for farewell

By
April 30th, 2014



supercity_header_2013

I’ve been traveling quite a bit to the neighbor islands for work and have been joking about not coming back from Kauai. That place is a dream world. Everyone keeps telling me it is way too slow for me but I don’t know … I kind of love that.

Painted Highways

With PAGE, Botoroke and Oil in the Alley

» Where: Downbeat Lounge, 42 N Hotel St.

» When: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday, May 10

» Cost: Free

Some people can’t hang with small towns but to me it’s a glorious escape from the hustle and bustle. I jokingly refer to Oahu as “The Metropolis” whenever I’m out there and love that with each trip I return with more friends. When there’s not as much to do people spend more time on their own families, their own health and fitness, and their own peace of mind.

Who wouldn’t want to have a life on a beautiful lush island as a farmer, getting up at dawn to surf, doing yoga and making smoothies?

There are some, apparently. Most of my friends on Oahu say they could never live somewhere so small. “Everyone knows everyone. You have no privacy.” Blah. Living under the radar was never really a thing for me. The more people I can get to know the more interesting life gets. I saw a quote somewhere (probably on Instagram) that said, “The less people I chill with the less drama in my life.” It’s totally true but missing out on being close with others strips away a bit of our own humanity. People need people.

Mike and Rachel Pooley will be leaving for Kauai at the end of May. (Courtesy Graham Black)

Mike and Rachel Pooley will be leaving for Kauai at the end of May. (Courtesy Graham Black)

Longtime Honolulu musician Mike Pooley and his wife, yoga instructor Rachel Piano-Pooley, will be moving back to Kauai at the end of May with their two young children after 10 years of living in The Metropolis. Could it be that the big city was just too much for the talented young couple?!

Not quite.

“I went to elementary school in Hanalei and always wanted to move back, but since my wife’s family is over there we decided to have our kids grow up around their family,” he told me.

Pooley has been a significant fixture in the local music scene, currently fronting indie rock band Pink Mist but also powering Timbre Tantrums, POWER! and Painted Highways.

Painted Highways was, as many Honolulu bands tend to be, a miscellany of some of the city’s greatest: Jack Tawil (At Sea, Malcognitas), Mark Howard (CTRL ALT DEL one of my favorite bands of all time in Honolulu) and Pink Mist bassist Kai Kalus. They are, essentially, a product of exactly what is right about Honolulu’s tight-knit, incestuous music scene.

Painted Highways performing at Nextdoor circa 2010. Not pictured: me in a dream state. Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

Painted Highways performing at Nextdoor circa 2010. Not pictured: me in a dream state.(Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

I was standing dreamily in the back for many of their shows at Nextdoor and Mercury Bar. Their music is heavily influenced by a lot of the '90s rock that I was actuallyl listening to while driving long roads in Washington state in the '90s: Modest Mouse, Dinasour Jr., Radiohead. These are merely influences, as their sound is all their own. Dreamy guitars could be my favorite thing to see live on the planet.

Painted Highways had a “whirlwind romance,” as Pooley puts it, for two and a half years that included a five-song EP and opening slots for Blitzen Trapper, Vivian Girls and Toro y Moi.

Saturday, May 10, will be a reunion-slash-goodbye show featuring all the original members.

“I’m sure going to miss it here. The musical and creative opportunities I’ve had here have been amazing. It’s going to be hard adjusting, but I’m excited about this new adventure,” Pooley told me. "I'm sad too. It's weird leaving a place I'm still in love with. So bittersweet."

Meanwhile, online local street performers Streetlight Cadence are about to have their big break. They won the Hard Rock Cafe's Hard Rock Rising for Hawaii and are now in the more difficult portion of the restaurant chain's contest: the online voting.

Streetlight Cadence are in the running for an all-expenses-paid trip to perform at the Hard Rock Live Rome Music Festival in Italy this summer. (Courtesy Streetlight Cadence)

Streetlight Cadence are in the running for an all-expenses-paid trip to perform at the Hard Rock Live Rome Music Festival in Italy this summer. (Courtesy Streetlight Cadence)

It's a shame, really. These guys could easily be the next Mumford & Sons but won't be going anywhere if they can't get enough online support. If they do make it, just watch out. The crowds around them under the Hawaii Theater each First Friday, standing there with their mouths hanging open, are totally going to be able to say they knew them when. I really hope they can get past this voting purgatory and in the running to perform in Italy. The Hard Rock Live Rome Music Festival is this summer, and voting is only open for 25 days. The link is here. Good luck guys. You definitely deserve it.

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

    Archives

    Categories