Archive for December, 2014

Vertical Junkies mark 20 years

By
December 19th, 2014



A typical Vertical Junkies party at the old O Lounge on Kapiolani Boulevard, circa, 2005.

PHOTOS COURTESY RUSS INOUYE

A typical Vertical Junkies party at the old O Lounge on Kapiolani Boulevard, circa 2005.

Once a party promoter, always a party promoter. Russ Inouye is better known these days as producer of the annual Hawaii Ocean Expo and for his work in reintroducing He’eia Pier General Store & Deli to a new generation of fans, but there was a time when getting friends (and friends of friends) together for a club rager was his main objective.

VERTICAL JUNKIES 20/20 REUNION

With special guest PeniDean

» Where: Tsukiji, Ala Moana Center
» When: 10 p.m. Saturday
» Cost: $10 before 11:30 p.m.
» Info: facebook.com

Originally launched in 1994 as a clothing company, Vertical Junkies morphed into one of the top nightclub party crews about 10 years ago before crossing over into the bar business in 2009 with the opening of the former V-Lounge on Kona Street. Along with business partners Mike Nagasawa, Kanoe Sandefur and Blaine Tomita, Inouye welcomed thousands of young adults into Honolulu’s nightclub scene with 18-and-over parties at venues all over town.

Mention the phrase “Five Dolla Pitchas and Rubba Slippas” to these folks and they’ll immediately make the connection. From Hot Lava Cafe, Compadres and Ocean Club to the O Lounge, Hard Rock Cafe and Shack Waikiki, the Vertical Junkies kept their casual, laid-back-yet-still-raging party vibe going no matter where the ride took them.

PHOTOS COURTESY RUSS INOUYERuss Inouye, second from right, with his Vertical Junkies partners, from left, Kanoe Sandefur, Mike Nagasawa and Blaine Tomita.

Russ Inouye, second from right, with his Vertical Junkies partners, from left, Kanoe Sandefur, Mike Nagasawa and Blaine Tomita.

The VJ boys will take a walk down memory lane on Saturday when Inouye, Nagasawa and Tomita host the Vertical Junkies 20/20 Reunion at Tsukiji Ala Moana with support from Tantriq Entertainment, Blaise Sato, Flash Hansen, Artist Groove Network, Xclusive Vapor, 808Tattoo and Know1. And if social media buzz is any indication, this holiday party will be one to remember.

“Judging by the people who have said they’re coming, it’s going to be a fun night, like the way it used to be,” Inouye said by phone on Thursday. “Getting a such a solid response to this party is making me feel like we could do it again. … That surf, party, cruise vibe I’ve always enjoyed.”

The Vertical Junkies are well known for being able to poke fun and laugh at themselves.

The Vertical Junkies are well known for being able to poke fun and laugh at themselves.

Another longtime promoter buddy helped get Inouye in the door at Tsukiji after spotting him up to his old tricks on the North Shore. Rick Rock happened to cross paths with Inouye at Haleiwa Joe’s, where Inouye stepped in to host a one-off party after the restaurant’s previous promoter severed ties.

“Rick saw me that night and later asked if I wanted to do a party in town and collaborate with him,” Inouye said. “It’s the holiday season and everybody is back in town. It’s the perfect time for something like this.”

Partying with Nicole Scherzinger of Pussycat Dolls fame.

Partying with Nicole Scherzinger of Pussycat Dolls fame.

Those looking for EDM on Saturday shouldn’t bother checking out Tsukiji — Inouye made it clear the party will be a throwback to the late 1990’s and early ‘00s with a mix of hip-hop, R&B, Top 40 and island contemporary by a roster of DJs who used to play Vertical Junkies parties back then.

“This is going to be a feel-good party,” he said. “Come in your slippers if you want. If you want to come in your $150 T-shirt, who cares? Just come with a good attitude. Come and have fun.”
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Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

Posted in Bars & Clubs, SA | Comments Off on Vertical Junkies mark 20 years

Streetlight Cadence wins 2014 Rumble

By
December 3rd, 2014



PHOTOS BY KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISERStreetlight Cadence celebrate their Mai Tai Rumble win on Wednesday.

PHOTOS BY KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

Streetlight Cadence celebrate their Mai Tai Rumble win on Wednesday.

Wednesday night’s final round of the annual Mai Tai Rumble showcased how much this battle of the bands has changed since it started at Ala Moana Center more than a decade ago.

Local reggae and island contemporary bands dominated for years after the Mai Tai Bar introduced the battle of the bands in 2001 — so much so that event organizers had to split the competition into categories for reggae and everything else. That changed a few years ago when entries slumped a bit, forcing all bands to compete against each other. As increasing numbers of rock and alternative bands began to advance farther in the competition, others began to sit up and take notice.

This year, more than half of the bands that competed were of the non-reggae variety, according to event co-producer Alan Arato. In the finals, only one band — Ascension — could be considered a true reggae group. Backwards Shaka has established themselves as a solid rock-reggae fusion band, while Solid Rock made no attempt to conceal their deep Christian roots during the competition.

Backwards Shaka performs during the final round of the 14th annual Mai Tai Rumble on Wednesday.

Backwards Shaka performs during the final round of the 14th annual Mai Tai Rumble on Wednesday.

Which brings us to Streetlight Cadence, the folk-rock quartet that couldn’t be further from the stereotype most envision when talking about live music at the Mai Tai Bar. Dressed in bright pastel colors and toting classical stringed instruments (we’re talking a violin and cello here, folks), the guys performed a high energy set that won over final round judges Tom Moffatt, Jamie Hyatt and Ed Nix and scored them $18,000 in cash and prizes.

“We thought (the Mai Tai Rumble) was tailored against us,” said Streetlight Cadence’s Johnathon Franklin. ”We figured when we compete it always improves us, whether or not we win. We were surprised we got past the second round, honestly.”

“More than the competition, everybody is bringing good vibes, good energy, good music,” added Jesse Shiroma. “We get to meet all these bands we don’t know. … I’ve never heard of Backwards Shaka. Their fusion of rock and reggae? It’s tight! I was blown away.”

Streetlight Cadence performs during the final round of the 14th annual Mai Tai Rumble on Wednesday.

Streetlight Cadence performs during the final round of the 14th annual Mai Tai Rumble on Wednesday.

After five years of busking on the streets of Waikiki, Streetlight Cadence has made strides in 2014 to change their focus and go after more traditional gigs. About six months ago, all four members of the band committed to music full-time.

“Maybe it’s because we’re the only ones doing what we do here, but we’ve had this momentum,” said Franklin. “This is probably one of the most challenging places to get into the music business.”

With the Mai Tai Rumble win, the band will receive a variety of prizes, including an opening gig at the Party of the Year at Kaka’ako Waterfront Park on New Year’s Eve.

But tonight, they’ll be back on Kalakaua Avenue playing for tourists who pass them by on the sidewalk.

“People say it’s hard to get ahead here, but I think Hawaii is one of the best places to start,” said Shiroma. “It’s a safe, cool, friendly environment to start making music and share your music.”

———

Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

Posted in Latest News, Music, SA | Comments Off on Streetlight Cadence wins 2014 Rumble

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