The Buzz

Rockstar Hotel bangs to '80s beat in Toronto

Categories: Movies, Music

Low Level FlightRock singer and former Canadian Idol-winner Ryan Malcolm performed with his alt-rock band Low Level Flight in Toronto on Saturday. (Laura Thompson/CBC)

In the midst of a concert-packed weekend in Toronto -- including the climax of the North By Northeast music fest and the imminent touchdown of the MuchMusic Video Awards -- came word of another music event that seemingly had no official connection to either.

Saturday night's "Rockstar Hotel" event was billed as "a night of unabashed dirty rock 'n' roll fun," but upon closer examination, it was actually a launch event for Rock of Ages, the poorly reviewed rock musical that opened in movie theatres this past weekend.

We anticipated three floors of partying at a private members club in Toronto. Travelling up an elevator with folks ready to let their hair down, we spilled into a room styled like a Las Vegas hotel. We discovered that the main sponsor was condom purveyor Durex -- "passionately committed to inspiring lovers through sensual experiences," according to a release. The evening's tone was set.

Live music filled the rooms downstairs. Ryan Malcolm (aka the first Canadian Idol) pulled off a decent set with his band, Low Level Flight. Too bad about the feeble attempt to connect with the crowd: his "Who got a sex toy?!" shout-out was met by a sea of unimpressed faces -- a not-so-subtle hint to stick to the music.

Joe ElliottDef Leppard's Joe Elliott performs in Los Angeles this month. The '80s icons re-recorded two songs for Rock of Ages. (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Artists and others looking hipper-than-thou milled around several bars on the middle floor. Drinks flowed, friends mingled, industry people networked. In one glance, I spotted singer-songwriter Daniel Victor of Neverending White Lights, TV personality Johnny Hockin, and Outside Music founder, Lloyd Nishimura.

Upstairs, a breezy rooftop patio was decked out with ice sculptures and yet another bar. Staff circulated with Jagermeister shots served in test tubes, while a DJ played classic 80s rock hits by the likes of Def Leppard, Poison and Foreigner all night long.

It was one of the bigger parties of the weekend -- I'd wager more than a thousand attended. It succeeded in bringing the Rock of Ages soundtrack to life in a very social, modern way. Too bad the movie itself isn't living up to the epic nature of the machine that's propping it up.

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