Saturday’s Silverlake Conservatory of Music gala, emceed by Marc Maron and hosted by Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Michael “Flea” Balzary, the music school’s co-founder, and Anthony Kiedis, was the place to be.
Between performances by Lindsey Buckingham, k.d. lang and the Chili Peppers, Brad Pitt chatted with artist Thomas Houseago at a table beside the stage. Ezra Koenig and Rashida Jones brought their baby to watch the show. Rather than remain on stage, lang stepped down to be closer to the crowd, which included the night’s award recipient, music industry legend Mo Ostin.
The annual gala, which took place at the music school, honored Ostin, a recording industry executive, philanthropist and member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. During his music career, he worked with top talent including Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, the Beach Boys and the Chili Peppers.
Artworks by David Hockney, Anish Kapoor, Dennis Hopper, Shepard Fairey, Cecily Brown, Jack Pierson, Kenny Scharf, Robert Therrien and other artists lined the perimeter of the school’s elegantly white-carpeted parking lot. All works were available for sale in a silent auction, which also included jewelry by Damien Hirst, a chance to sit courtside with Balzary for the Lakers, and having Sarah Silverman record your voicemail message.
Noting that the night marked the Conservatory’s 17th year, Balzary said, “What started as a little kernel of an idea has become this beautiful space that 800 kids pass through each week. … And anytime in my life — no matter what I’m doing — every time I walk in here, I can always say I did one good thing. And this is it.”
He then proposed a toast to the night’s honoree, being “proud and honored to know him,” and lavishing Ostin with praise.
Next Balzary introduced Maron, a comedian, podcaster and a star of TV’s “GLOW,” who joked about the Los Angeles seasons, traffic, the end of the world and President Trump.
“It’s sort of sad that we live in a city where … if you woke up and opened your computer and saw the apocalypse is starting in Los Angeles, your next thought would be, “… traffic is going to be terrible.’ ”
About President Trump, Maron quipped, “I would not be surprised if one day he just staffs the White House with actual Russians. I’m sort of waiting for that to happen.”
Performances and the presentation came next, but instead of the usual honoree trophy, Balzary and Kiedis presented Ostin with a sculpture of an owl, especially created by Houseago for the occasion. (In an earlier conversation that evening, the artist explained, “It’s an owl. It’s wisdom. Owls are beautiful, mysterious creatures. They’re wise. They’re also very silent but with real attentiveness.”)
The Conservatory’s music students kicked off the night’s entertainment with songs by Ostin’s artists such as “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell, “Castles Made of Sand” by Jimi Hendrix and “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young. Buckingham and lang followed, and finally, the Chili Peppers got guests to their feet for a seven-song set.
Artists, art collectors, actors, musicians, music executives and more included Mike D of the Beastie Boys, former Detroit Piston Joe Dumars, architect Barbara Bestor, artists Glenn Kaino, Sarah Cain, Lauren Halsey and James Verbicky, recording artist Charlotte Lawrence, WME music head Marc Geiger, gallerists Shaun Caley Regen and Deb McLeod of Gagosian, Bettina Korek of Frieze Los Angeles, and Conservatory co-founder Keith “Tree” Barry and executive director Jennifer Rey.
In a conversation during the cocktail hour, Kiedis said, “Mo is beyond historically important to this world. … It was because he loved music. It was his giving heart that cared about music that inspired us to want to make great records and enabled us to want to start this school.”