Perry Farrell on His Underground Rave-inspired Event 'Heaven After Dark'

Dec 16, 2022

Ana Monroy Yglesias

8 min read

On Friday, December 9, 2022, Perry Farrell—Jane's Addiction frontman and Lollapalooza founder—debuted his new underground party series, Heaven After Dark, with Maceo Plex headlining. Heaven was brought down to the historic Los Angeles club Catch One, its four programmed rooms filled with house and techno. A troupe of lively dancers decked in creative, DIY looks, including cloud bras, neon rainbows, wings, and laser-lined gloves, pranced around the club, adding a fun dose of '90s rave energy to a black-clad mostly male, mostly not dancing crowd. Ahead of the event, Farrell chatted with the dancers and other organizers about what heaven means to them and encouraged them to take on characters, bringing the energy of live theater to the club.

Surprises included a cotton candy machine tucked downstairs to offer guests a sugar rush with a heavenly texture and, most importantly, Farrell singing and riffing along to Maceo's set.

While the underground surely showed up for Maceo, there were also a lot of people there for Farrell. "It's Perry fucking Farrell, you guys!" a girl exclaimed during the set, turning to her friends with a wide grin.

Before the event, we caught up with the rock legend to learn more about Heaven After Dark. He offered poetic musings on house music, house parties, money, heaven, and the divine.

"I love the affects and results of a great house party—I'm thinking late '80s, early '90s house parties. They were also very freeing, happy occasions, a chance for people to get together and sing and dance," Farrell said when asked about the inspiration for the new event series.

"As things develop in life and people see there's money involved in it, the character of the occasion starts getting off of its original intention. I mean, everything is always transcending—that's a good word to use for [Heaven After Dark]—music is transcendental, and some of the best transcendental music comes from house music. I see house music as a place to go to get away from the material world, it can be that."

He goes on to share that he used to play records in his backyard for friends in elementary school to cheer himself up and gather friends with dance and good music. To him, this is the essence of house music.

"I've seen a lot of money go into [house music]—I'm thinking about the agencies that represent the DJs. I've seen the DJ go from making $500 to $1000 to $100,000 and sometimes even more than that. There's nothing wrong with that. I think it's amazing that we honor these digital producers.

But like most things, when money gets in the way, you loose the spiritual elements of it. So with Heaven After Dark, I'm shooting for heaven. I want to have [on] earth a place where God exists amongst us. I'm trying to draw heaven down to earth with a house party."

Fittingly, the venue was Jewel Thais-Williams' house, (for years, she lived directly above the club in what is now its green room) Catch One. From 1973 to 2015, the club was Jewel's Catch One, named after its groundbreaking Black lesbian owner who served decades of local queer and POC communities. In 2015, she sold it to Los Globos owner Mitch Edelson, who kept much of the original club's signage and spirit, and it remains an independent venue to this day.

It's important to Farrell to support and work with independent venues, organizers, and promoters, as well as underground talent. And with Heaven After Dark, he has a vision to support underground dance culture in a vehicle inspired by house music's early days.

Before we moved on to the second question, the "Jane Says" singer asked to talk a bit more about money.

"We're all going to have to start looking at life sublimely. We're about to enter the era of sublimation and redemption. Even things we thought were evil, like money. If you really look at money sublimely, it could actually save the world," he muses. "We can do some really hateful things [with it], or we can take that money and help out the poor, the sick, the needy, which would make the world amazing.

In order to do this [event], I had to start from the purest place. It's not about money. It's about kindness, about heaven. So I'm starting the whole process with the underground dance culture, because there's not a lot of money there, but there sure is a load of inspiration and love and community. It's a perfect place to begin this fantastic journey."

Speaking of money, the ticket price for the event was notably reasonable, especially for one headlined by Maceo. The early bird tickets were $25, and a week before the event, the second release tier was still available, at $36, with the last tier topping out at $50.

One of the event's partners is an LA event brand inspired by Berlin afterhours, NXT Entertainment. It was founded in 2018 by local techno DJ MANTi, who was throwing down in the main room when we arrived. He passed the decks over to KCRW dance music champion and host of the beloved independent station's longtime Saturday night show, Jason Bentley.

Maceo came on a little behind schedule, around 1:30. The crowd packed in as Bentley kept the energy high with his stellar selections until he passed the torch. The Heaven After Dark dancers made their way through the crowd to the stage, dancing with the most enthusiastic of the revelers. A few tracks in, the "Solitary Daze" producer dropped his euphoric remix of the Chromatics' "Shadow," and soon after, Farrell made his way on stage to sing to the lovely Groove Armada remix of his track "Shekina," as the dancers shot their lasers from their silver gloves into the crowd. Perry continued to sing over Maceo's banging selects, including Maceo's official 2020 remix of Farrell's "Let's Pray For This World."

The pair clearly was excited to collab together live on stage. Farrell told us, "I hold Maceo Plex in high regard…his vibe is transcendental, positive, artistic, and there's a little room for me to get on there and throw some evocation out to the audience… I'm going to let my heart sing." And that he did. Maceo made a charming Instagram post with photos of each of them in the '90s and a caption reading, "Somehow this nerd crossed paths with rock royalty & legend @perryfarrellofficial."

At one point, Farrell echoed "May may Maceooo" into the mic while smoking. Legendary. During Maceo's 2020 track "Nu World," he sang, "It's going offff!" Facts. When I left a little after 3, with just enough energy to carefully stomp by disco platforms down the stairs and drive myself home, Perry was still going!

It's incredible to see a massively successful artist and event producer like Farrell share his resources and platform with champions of the local underground house and techno scene, along with an American king of the underground, Maceo. The event has a ton of potential, and Farrell hopes to collaborate with more talent and producers in other cities around the globe next year and throw more events in LA.

Catch One is a large space to fill. It would've been cool to see some fun art and decorations transporting the space to the heavens. Farrell says he's planning on working with local fine artists for Heaven After Dark, which will be fantastic to see.

Heaven After Dark was initially supposed to happen in 2020, so the first "beta" version ended up taking place in March 2022 at Los Angeles' Belasco Theater, a live music rendition with Farrell and his wife Etty Lau Farrell's Kind Heaven Orchestra performing. They loved connecting through music and performance with a much more intimate crowd, but Farrell explained it was too expensive to tour with the orchestra, so the underground rave version came to life. He posits that "The orchestra can change shapes, its transcendental," and he's thinking about working with local musicians as they take it around the world. He's also keen to bring conversation, important current events, and philanthropy into the events in a way that keeps things fun and mindful.

Heaven is the limit!

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