This was my first Music Awards.
Nearly three years in the city, and I've somehow managed to end up elsewhere on awards night, when the local luminaries roll out to collect their statues. The amateur optimist in me expected to show up and find Paul Wall lounging in the corner with six groupies, the Southern Backtones slamming six-ounce tequila shots and kicking out windows and everyone else crazy and wet like a romp of otters humping on a damp rock.
Lo and behold, everyone seemed to be minding their manners. I didn't even see anyone drinking heavily.
In the final hour, I bumped into Flash, Warehouse Live security/gatekeeper.
"Did I miss the shit going down, or has this thing really been as calm as it's seemed?"
"No issues at all," Flash said.
Then he smirked. "Except Little Joe."
Little Joe Washington's commandeering the stage may well end up residing next to my favorite awards-show moments, with Dylan's rambling Grammy speech and Jarvis Cocker putting the spikes to Michael Jackson at the Brits.
It's never very cool to go over the top with Awards Show Rebellion; John Lydon, for instance, would push it too far. At a thing like this, a proper show of anarchic tendencies is less "Fuck you" than "What the fuck?", sarcastically thanking the event organizers for being a bunch of tasteless rubbernecking clowns who can, nonetheless, fold napkins. This is adolescent and disrespectful.
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If, though, you win the award for Best Conceptual Neo-Soul Fusion Album Recorded on Low-Grade Heroin in a Fallout Shelter, then proceed to thank "J. Geils, for helping me lose my virginity," or "Mario Bava. For everything," you obviously know the score. By handling your moment on stage in this fashion, you manage to convey hip rock and roll apathy while not being a big enough spectacle to actually make a lasting bad impression with those passing out the awards. You are saying thanks without looking like a suck-up or a rube, because that's unattractive.
And in the words of Ferris Bueller: "You can't respect someone who kisses your ass."
Little Joe's "speech," for me, marked the point in the evening where a good deal of the pomp bled out of the show. The live performances only got better as the night progressed, hitting fever pitch with The Dimes.
I don't have any hipster cred anyway, so I'll let this be blunt as it is: I'd never seen The Dimes perform. The contrarian in me wanted badly to be unimpressed, given the hype, but I was floored. The Dimes posses that particular brand of give-a-damn that permeates every on-stage movement; cut the sound and you'd lose very little in the way of recognizing their kinetic wont. They aren't old, burned or surly enough to be Mission of Burma, but those cats have grit, and – with any luck – they lack an understanding of why it is that they kick ass. A terrifying burden, indeed.
The room began to clear out a bit early and the room was once again cooling its heels by the time Devin the Dude accepted his statue for Local Musician of the Year. Someone nearby shook their head and leaned over to their companion.
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"Where were all the 'hardcore' musicians at 9:30 when Devin was accepting the award? Puttin' the kids in bed and cleanin' the soccer balls for tomorrow. Sooner or later, you have to deal with the fact that these people wouldn't be here to accept their awards if they had a gig tonight."
On that note of dark thought, I closed my tab and opted out of the after-party scene, deciding to close out the night by having a quiet drink with a couple of fellow freelancers. A classy, mellow end to a classy, mellow night.
I can always kick out some windows next year. – Chris Henderson