Best Of '99: Beck Electrifies Post-Oscars Bash In Tinseltown

Folk-rocker tears up House of Blues on Hollywood's biggest night, plays new song from upcoming LP.

[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at 1999's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Monday, March 22.]

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Beck may have been performing a show billed as a post-Oscars party here Sunday night, but he wasn't exactly tuned in to the occasion.

"Who even won? I don't even know," he asked the capacity, invitation-only crowd here at the House of Blues, after dedicating his hit "Loser" to "all the winners and the losers."

On hand for the Beck event — hosted by the Hollywood Stock Exchange and Excite — were such celebrity guests as Primus bassist Les Claypool, Minnesota governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura and actors Giovanni Ribisi and Patricia Arquette.

They were the minority, however, in a crowd that primarily consisted of behind-the-scenes movie-industry types decked out in suits and formal dresses. Most of the Oscars' shining stars, it seemed, were out celebrating Hollywood's biggest night at various other parties around town.

Still, the show — which also featured performances by techno act the Crystal Method and audio-visual artists Emergency Broadcast Network — was clearly a hot ticket. Several hundred invited guests were stuck outside because the venue reached capacity before the Academy Awards show had even ended.

"C'mon, this is the Sunset Strip — we ain't f---in' around," Beck told

the crowd midway through a performance of the megahit "Where It's At."

When Arquette took the stage to introduce Beck and his band, she

professed her admiration for the singer and told the crowd she had to

"beg to introduce him so I could get a ticket."

The neo-folk-rocker's hour-plus set was full of hits and innovative

extras. What may have been the highlight was a cover of Eddy Grant's

1983 hit, "Electric Avenue," which Beck used to open and close his

performance. Infused with his characteristic junkyard sonics, the funk-rock anthem featured scratches and cool electronic noises, while Beck

offered robotic dance movements as he sang. When he encored with the

song, however, he got down even deeper to reveal his break-dancing

skills.

"I want to learn to dance like Beck so I can be that cool," 31-year-old

attendee Jason Marx said. "You don't imagine him getting down like that,

but he's like elastic. Way beyond cool."

Beck showcased a new song, the deeply funky "Hollywood Freaks," part of

which he sang in a Prince-like falsetto. The tune is from his still-untitled upcoming album, planned for release late this year.

Against a stage backdrop of mostly psychedelic images, Beck drew heavily

from his 1996 LP, Odelay, with such songs as "Hotwax," "Sissyneck,"

"Jack-Ass" (RealAudio

excerpt) and "Lord Only Knows." "Devil's Haircut" (RealAudio

excerpt), also from that smash album, came during the encore,

after Beck had changed from a solid black outfit to a white leather

jacket and white pants. Holding a matching white guitar, he proclaimed,

"Let's play some rock 'n' roll," as the band launched into the revved-up

number.

The only excerpt from his most recent release, Mutations, was

"Tropicalia" (RealAudio

excerpt), which he dedicated to "all the Hollywood freaks out

there." Beck used an instrumental break in the song to showcase the talents

of his band. "Do you want to feel my beats?" he asked before posing similar

questions about different aspects of the sound.

"He's so high-energy, and so present in what he's doing," 25-year-old

attendee Jennifer Klein said. "Amazing."