And so ends the second annual Omaha Entertainment Awards. Better than the first annual event? No, not really. Technically, there were even more fuck-ups this year than last year. On a couple occasions, presenters opened the wrong envelopes and announced the wrong winners – which resulted in a chorus of boos from the attentive, well-dressed and slightly inebriated audience. It all got sorted out, eventually.
Other than that and a few audio miscues, the show was about the same as last year’s. It was the same unique crowd — a mix of younger music fans and older theater-going types. I noticed fewer politicos on hand, probably because of that other awards show going on — the Iowa caucuses. And there were fewer winners there to pick up their awards this year, specifically for the theater categories, which seemed to dominate the night’s proceedings. The evening’s running joke: The envelope would be read, and after a few pregnant moments when it became obvious that the winner wasn’t there, someone from the winning production would run up to the podium and announce “That’s right, I’m not so-and-so…” It happened over and over and over.
The OEA organizers appeared to have learned from last year’s mistakes and dovetailed the music awards with the arts and theater awards, instead of grouping each medium together, which last year resulted in all the theater folks leaving after their part of the evening was over. Strangely, the dovetailed awards still didn’t work, and by the last hour of the program, two-thirds of the sold-out floor seating was once again empty. Come on, people, the least you can do is stick around to honor your comrades in arms… Is there anything more selfish than leaving directly after your individual category has been announced?
I left the show last night thinking that the OEA’s focus had shifted to dance, art and theater awards, with music as a novelty afterthought. I’m sure this was by design — an effort to get even more of the “creative community” involved in the event. Too bad that noble outreach was met by an audience of winners who didn’t show up and losers who left early.
I went to the event stag — Teresa has the flu or some other sort of ailment. So I spent the night texting to a friend of mine who also didn’t go. Here are my notes from my iPhone:
— John Nicely and Tracey Madden presented the best hard rock/metal/punk category. Nicely seemed lucid and attentive, unlike his usual sedated demeanor on the evening news. The winner was Venaculas — the second year in a row. During their acceptance speech one of the band members said he was surprised anyone remembered who they were.
— Matt Whipkey presented the best Hip-Hop award, which went to Breathless, who arrived on stage with an 8-person “entourage.”
— We were all treated to a scene from a play that was embarrassingly trite and poorly acted. They need to stop doing these dramatic performances during the show. I realize they’re trying to be “inclusive,” but these are horrible.
— Two other TV news “personalities” announced the best ethnic award, which went to Mariachi Luna y Sol. For whatever reason, the OEAs cannot let go of this idea of having members of the media present these awards — they are the last people who should be up there.
— The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by Luigi Waites, who won it last year. Luigi, who got a standing ovation, was hilarious. The winner was Bob Rogers, who runs Gallery 72 and who I’m guessing 95 percent of the audience never heard of.
— I stepped out and got a $5 Morgan and Coke during a performance by a local “jazz” band, and missed Best Folk/Roots/Americana, which went to Bright Eyes, and Best Jazz, which went to Luigi (thank god). The crowd in the lobby was as big as the crowd inside the auditorium. Most were drunk or getting there.
— Unfortunately, I returned in time to see a performance by Anchondo. They are worse live than I could ever imagine. I thought they broke up years ago. Like the Coyote Bones performance earlier in the evening, the sound mix was horrendous — overly bassy — at least from my lonely perch in the balcony. Sarah Benck and the Robbers would have the same problem when they performed.
— The Best Blues award went, again, to Kris Lager, who looked like Molly Hatchet accepting the award.
— One of the more awkward awards of the evening, Best Rock, went to Matt Whipkey and Anonymous American, beating out Ladyfinger and Oxygen, among others. Not awkward in that Whipkey and Co. didn’t deserve the award — they did — awkward in that the band rarely plays together anymore now that Whipkey has moved onto his new band, The Whipkey Three. This led to some uncomfortable back-and-forth during the back-stage interview, when one of the 620 VJs kept prying Whipkey about AA’s future. “So, have you guys been writing some new songs?” Uh…
— In an unscripted moment, a big black guy with a pink Mohawk ran onto the stage while AA was accepting their award and tried to make a speech. Whipkey pushed him aside, and eventually the geek left.
— Poor Michael Campbell was the presenter who was given the wrong envelop during the Adult Alternative award. He read the name “Little Brazil,” the crowd booed, and he and his co-presenter exited stage left. I’m sure he was pissed (I would have been). The winner was Sarah Benck and the Robbers, who accepted the award a few minutes later.
— The best R&B/Funk/Soul Award went to Satchel Grande — a pleasant surprise.
— Finally, Little Brazil was given their award for Best Alternative/Indie. Landon Hedges accepted, saying something like, “People like to talk shit about our music scene,” adding that after going on the road on tour that he realized “We have the greatest fucking music scene!” I hope the TV people were quick with their buzzer. I can just see them stumbling over themselves in the truck, screaming “Go to break! Go to break!!!“
— Best New Artist went to the band that I voted for last year for best R&B/Funk: Satchel Grande, who have been around for a few years — another screw up by the nomination committee.
— Paria performed next and were the only band other than a mariachi band that sounded good on stage. For some reason, the sound mix complimented their metal performance, only heard by the few people still left in the auditorium.
Finally, at around 10:30, the last two music awards were announced. Album of the Year and Artist of the Year both went to Bright Eyes, who wasn’t there to accept the award. Instead, artist Jay Lynch, looking like a hip version of the Zig-Zag man, accepted for Conor. One assumes that Oberst was busy stumping for last night’s other big winner, Barack Obama (Seriously, check out all the coverage and the scary Conor picture here).
I’ll have more comments about the OEA’s in next week’s column. Stay tuned.
My night ended at 12:30 watching Two Gallants on the Jimmy Kimmel show – which had been pushed back due to the caucus coverage. They sang “Despite What You’ve Been Told.” There’s always something wrong with these network shows sound-wise. Last night it was the drums, which could barely be heard in the mix. Instead, we got a lot of guitar and vocals. Adam Stephens spit out the lines with earnest defiance, shaking like he was being electrocuted or about to go into seizures. His guitar sounded terrific, though, and he sang well on a song that sounded jittery and nervous. Kimmel acted like he genuinely liked it.
Tonight at The Waiting Room, it’s Capgun Coup with Perry H. Matthews, The Bombardment Society, & Dim Light. $7, 9 p.m.
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