Grammys 2015: Sam Smith, Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dogg top weekend parties

Grammys 2015: Sam Smith, Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dogg top weekend parties
Gwen Stefani performs at the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday in Los Angeles. (Araya Diaz / Getty Images)
Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea, Gwen Stefani and Snoop Dogg were just a few of the acts that took to the stage in a week of posh parties all over town in the days leading up to Sunday’s Grammy Awards.
Late Thursday, as rehearsals were in full gear at Staples Center, partygoers were flocking to the Hollywood Palladium where Snoop would anchor a concert. The Levi’s branded gig expanded in size -- last year’s headliner, R&B sensation Miguel, played the Fonda -- and Snoop, who was using the show to tease his forthcoming disc “Bush,” turned his late-night concert into a star-studded jam session.
FULL COVERAGE: Grammy Awards 2015

After opening with a surprise DJ set from Diplo and Skrillex, the veteran rapper then tore through the classic hits that made him a pivotal figure in West Coast rap, but he also ceded time to guest spots from Chaka Khan, Miguel (the pair did a cover of Rick James’ raunchy jam "Give It to Me Baby") and Kendrick Lamar.

Pharrell, who produced “Bush,” also popped up and they debuted Snoop’s single “Peaches N’ Cream.” Earlier in the week VIPs got a chance to preview the album and its artwork at Levi’s private showroom in West Hollywood.

While Snoop took over the Palladium, rapper Childish Gambino and R&B singer the Weeknd performed for a more intimate crowd at the El Rey Theatre.

A couple hundred people – a mix of younger and older, industry and non-industry -- huddled in the packed venue for Rolling Stone and Google Play’s pre-Grammy party.

Rolling Stone covers dating back five decades were projected along the walls, reflecting the recent collaboration between the digital giant and the music magazine to “bring years of iconic stories to the digital world.”

The Weeknd offered a hits-filled set, including “Earned It” from the upcoming “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack and a cover of Beyonce’s woozy smash “Drunk in Love." Gambino performed tracks from his Grammy-nominated album “Because the Internet,” which ended up losing out to Eminem.

Hip-hop proved to be a force on this year’s party circuit, even if the genre didn’t make any real noise on Sunday’s telecast (no rap trophy was handed out on the main telecast and although Azalea’s inclusion was controversial it was surprising that the pop-rapper didn’t perform). 

Atlanta hip-hop artist ILoveMakonnen played a showcase for Sonos' pre-Grammy affair and the tiny Sayers Club hosted a private show for T.I. that stretched past 1 a.m. on Saturday.

T.I. was also joined by Pharrell onstage -- Chris Brown, French Montana and T-Pain were among the spotted guests in VIP -- and made it clear that he was unbothered by the cool reception of his latest album, “Paperwork.”

“The commercial success ain’t what mattered. We lived our dreams,” he told the crowd. “I’m going to celebrate the success of my swag. I don’t need to be recognized by any board or any staff of people. And I could give a damn how many albums I sell.”
Friday afternoon, celebrity moms were celebrated with a brunch by talent firm Agency for Artists. The private event at SLS Beverly Hills -- coyly called MILF (Moms I Like to Follow), honored R&B star Brandy’s mother, Sonja Norwood, with the Manager Mom award. Brandy, Keyshia Cole,  Sevyn Streeter and Jacob Lattimore were among the attendees.
Also on Friday, Converse Rubber Tracks rolled out its latest initiative for working artists at an event at its pop-up studio in downtown’s arts district.
The shoe company’s Brooklyn-based studio already offers recording space for free to artists at pop-up spaces around the world, and Converse has now launched a sample library where artists can get royalty-free audio clips free of charge.
Converse’s sample library has already curated more than 10,000 loops, stems and sounds all created by emerging and established acts at the Rubber Tracks studio. Friday’s panel, moderated by KCRW’s Anthony Valdez, included a demonstration of the ease of accessing the library and Brooklyn electronic band Body Language performed a track they built with samples from it.
On Saturday, Universal Music Group Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge’s Artist Showcase proved to be the hottest ticket.

A dizzying roster of superstar and emerging acts packed the afternoon concert that was held at the Ace Hotel.

Iggy Azalea kicked off the showcase with her massive hit “Fancy,” and she was followed by sets from some of the label’s marquee acts. Fall Out Boy, the Weeknd, Keith Urban, Maroon 5 and Sam Smith all played sets.

“It’s good to keep my mind off tomorrow by singing,” Smith said during his performance. And sing he did, running through early cut “Nirvana” and breakout hit "Stay With Me” to rapturous response.

But rising artists were the focus. Among the highlights? Buzzy electropop singer Ryn Weaver, country duo Maddie & Tae and young soulful pop singers Tori Kelly and Shawn Mendes.

Universal also previewed the first teaser of its Amy Winehouse documentary (simply titled “Amy,” the film could arrive as early as July) and showed a clip of HBO’s “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” the first authorized documentary of the late rocker.
Later on Saturday, Nielsen pulled out all the stops for its pre-Grammy celebration. The party, held at Hyde Sunset, featured performances from New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Bastille.
And at the Orpheum Theatre, Gwen Stefani played her first headlining gig in six years.

The one-off, part of her recently launched partnership with MasterCard, proved she hadn’t lost any of the pop glitz she found outside of No Doubt.

Stefani’s show brought grand scale pop spectacle to an intimate theater, and the singer delivered a packed set featuring massive singles like “What You Waiting For,” “Rich Girl,” “Hollaback Girl” and the “Sweet Escape” and numerous fan favorites. She also performed comeback singles “Baby Don’t Lie” and “Spark the Fire.”

“Never in my life could I imagine singing these songs again,” Stefani told the sold-out crowd (we even spotted Jack Nicholson dancing along in the balcony).

On Sunday, before the Grammys even aired for West Coast viewers, about 100 people had already lined up outside Create Nightclub in Hollywood, waiting to enter Pandora's after-party, where Lil Jon would be spinning.

Alas, the party never really stops on Grammy weekend.

Times staff writers Tre'vell Anderson and Saba Hamedy contributed to this report.