By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
We knew the Orange County Music Awards (OCMA) had achieved a certain level of prominence when the greasy scalper standing near the Grove's main entrance asked us if we needed extra tickets. We didn't bother finding out what his selling price was, but depending on how far above or below face value he wanted, that would've been a good barometer as to how the public perception of this, the second annual OCMAs, was.
Because while there were a lot of good things about the awards, there was also a whole lotta stank, and we don't mean just the horrible Ashley Bee, either. Plus, there are still a bunch of questions we have as to how the show should be run in the future (we'll get more into that next week). Like, how do you tell the difference between indie rock and alternative rock? We don't know—and we were voting members of the freakin' Executive Board!
Things started off decently enough, with guitarists Walter Trout, Dat Nguyen and Lifetime Achievement award winner Dick Dale each taking a brief solo turn. We surprised ourselves by actually liking Trout for once; by himself, he was far from his usual, overblown, wheedle-wheedle-wheedlin' sack o' turd-blooze.
Once the passing out of trophies commenced, though, things turned ugly, beginning with the studio-mastering guy who spoke about the fabulous, practically sexual joy he got from his job. Was he a professional masterer or a professional masturbator? A bit of both, we guess.
We were also disappointed to learn Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle was a no-show, though he did pen a nice kissy-poo letter in the program congratulating the OCMAs. We assume he was outside the Grove with a bevy of poll guards, making sure only United States citizens were allowed in (perhaps this was the reason why there were no Latin music categories—another one of our hang-ups—though, as Board members, we can vouch that the real reason for Latin lackin' was that there were almost zero entries en español).
And we don't mean to drop a critical cinder block (yet again!) on singer Ashley Bee's head. But Bee needs to stop surrounding herself with friends and family who think she actually has talent because she's going to end up a big, sad, co-dependent mess once reality hits. First, she's not even doing country anymore (perhaps taking our advice after she tortured us during a Coach House opening gig last year with her tuneless, country-like-Shania-is-country dreck), even though she was nominated this year in that category. Now she has gone off in an even worse direction by crooning tacky, bland, off-key pop ballads—at the 2004 OCMAs, watch Bee as she goes "electro rock." Really, the kid sucks; people sitting around us who had never heard her before thought the same, and even The Orange County Register's Ben Wener branded her "unbearable" (note to Ben: her peeps will now threaten to sue you like they did to us—watch out!). And her song titled "Spare Me"? Self-explanatory.
The rest of the night was a blur of moments both sublime and ridiculous, mostly the latter. Unlike last year, most of the winners actually bothered showing up, though they took forever getting to the stage. Welsh band Flood won Best International, but the category itself had people wondering not only why a Welsh band was getting an award at the ostensibly ORANGE COUNTY Music Awards, but, thinking he was from OC, also wondering why he was talking so funny. Best Hip-Hop winners Tawny Triska and her posse were all about gum-chewing and white-fringe-boots-wearing. They also thanked the Lord whilst sporting bling-bling diamond-studded crucifix jewelry (which we're sure Jesus will also be modeling on his big comeback tour, yo). The Rare Form Band played pleasant enough smooth jazz, but like so much music of this genre, they had us soon feeling like we swallowed a handful of Sleep-eze. The opera singer in leather pants actually made the crowd put their drinks down long enough to listen. Besides Ghastly Ashley, the wretched techno swill of a thing called Channel won the only-in-our-minds award for Worst Band Ever and had us hoping they asphyxiate from the fumes of their fog machine soon. If Slugg-O suckled the privates of the other OCMA judges to win their Best Punk award, they certainly didn't bother asking us, which is, like, really rude. Wonderlove thanked OCMA founder Martin Brown, even though they slagged the awards in the Register the day before. And as we left, we stole one of the metal buckets being used as table décor—it'll make a handy puke pail at the next Ashley Bee gig.For a complete list of winners, log on to www.orangecountymusicawards.com.