And the Award Goes To …

You can never be sure what¹ll happen when you bring scads of local musicians together, give them free liqour, then invite them to sit through an awards ceremony where only a few of them will be handed a trophy.

Fortunately, Midwesterners are brought up to be respectful of one another, so the evening of the Pitch Music Awards ceremony last Friday at the Uptown Theater was quite pleasant, even though there were plenty of instances when a person deserved ridicule, myself included.

The night began around 6, with sweaty VIPs (mostly bands) filing in from the sweltering heat to the upstairs conference area for a buffet that consisted of heavy meats and gloppy cheeses. Oh, and free booze. Seeing musicians, most overdressed, sitting and eating off paper plates is like watching dogs eat salad when what they really want to do is chomp down some cat poo (i.e., rock out).

So went the preparty, during which many nominees accomplished their goal of getting drunk before heading down for the big show. I got so caught up that I missed the kickoff. But I did catch the end of the opening set by the Grand Marquis, the hardworking and dapper jump-swing band that jazz purists love to hate and we sane people love to love.

I had been asked — or was obligated — to accept three awards on behalf of absent possible winners. One of them was not the adorable Kim Anderson of hardcore (Christian) punks Flee the Seen. She strode adorably to the stage in her adorable black skirt to accept the Best Female Vocalist award for having a voice that could blow the skylights out of Oak Park Mall.

Best Male Vocalist deservedly went to Brandon Phillips of the Architects, all of whose members had to work their various service-industry jobs that night.

It was then that host Brodie Rush introduced us to his plans for killing time between band setups — a pared-down version of his band Be/Non, with him playing acoustic, John Huff on keys, Ben Ruth on stand-up bass and various members of the Grand Marquis on horns. It would have been fine had they done songs written for that format. Instead, he did Be/Non songs, which are best heard with tons of electronic effects and drums. As a friend pointed out, it was certainly no ³I Wanna Cum on You.² That refers, of course, to Rush¹s performance last year: hilarious karaoke-style songs and burlesque dancers. Don¹t get me wrong. I like Be/Non, but I felt relieved each time the curtains parted to reveal one of the night¹s featured bands.

And what bands they were. New Act winner Anvil Chorus played second and sounded great, cranking out jagged racket and fucky (if that¹s not a word, it should be) beats. But I gotta complain about something, and it¹s that singer Anna Cole, even though she was in the running for Best Female Vocalist, tries way too hard to imitate Björk. Furthermore, her band¹s song ³Abandon in the Bottoms² (besides having a title that sounds weird to non-Kansas Citians) sounds way too much like the Icelandic vixen¹s ³Army of Me.² So, if I may practice some career intervention: Anvil Chorus, drop the Björk.

And to me: drop any aspirations of public speaking. I accepted awards for Sons of Brasil (Best Latin), the Architects (Best Rock/Pop) and Split Lip Rayfield (Best Country/Bluegrass). I wonder how many people I offended with my ³Brasilian² accent.

The Leo Project rocked our balls off next. Singer Tyler Lyon plays an upside-down black Gibson SG left-handed and sings like a maniac. It¹s definitely mainstream, new-rock-influenced metal, but it sounds damn good and heavy. Best Hardcore/Metal and Best Live Act both, however, went to the Esoteric. Again. Bless ¹em.

The highlight of the evening was undeniably the DJ tag-team and breakdancing showcase presided over by DJs Sku and Ataxic. After so much guitar, deftly mixed hip-hop came over the crowd like a cool lake breeze, the perfect prelude to the surprise appearance of four badass B-boys.

Once those curtains were drawn, Sku claimed his Best DJ/Dance award, and the rest is a little fuzzy to me. Afterparties led to the Record Bar, Davey¹s and Moxie Catering, where a tiny, deaf Hispanic man rode a stick pony and Bacon Shoe brought the beats. Quite a night.

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