By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Photo by Tenaya HillsThe Orange County Music Awards
Galaxy Concert Theater
Saturday, March 27
You know the Orange County Music Awards has truly made a mark when the event starts attracting protestors. And there they were Saturday night out in front of the Galaxy, members of publicity-starved makeup-laden, cartoon metal band Fifi Larue (Gene Simmons, call your copyright attorney!), waving signs and carrying on, ostensibly about the Galaxy's pre-sell ticket policy regarding local bands, which they (Fifi Larue) don't think is fair. This topic pops up from time to time, though we don't think Fifi Larue was necessarily the right act to raise a fuss about it. Seems lead singer Fifi—that would be the one in the bad KISS makeup—had more of a beef with OCMA co-founder Martin Brown, whom he claimed had banned him from performing at the venue. Brown denies it, but whatever: we will say this: when Fifi got into a debate with a pro-Martin Brown passerby, and Fifi realized he was losing the argument, he bizarrely threatened to call the cops and have his sparring partner arrested for obstructing his free-speech rights! Dude: we've heard your band, and if anyone should be locked up for civil-rights abuses, it's you and your crappy band.
Where were we? Awards! This third edition of the OCMAs was the best yet, with more awards, more bands, more drunken revelry, better pacing (only 25 minutes behind schedule instead of an hour!) and from what we could tell, far fewer people than in previous years walking out as soon as their category winner was announced.
It didn't start out with such promise: last year's Best Country winner Darenda Owens offered the sort of bland pop that's pretty much ruined the genre for good. "Someone said OC was the next Seattle," chimed host Alison Everman, "but after that, I'm thinking Nashville." Gee—we sure weren't.
From there, it was the usual mix of good and much-less-than, as is anything over which we don't have complete control. Best Male Performer (tee-hee!) trophy went to Tyrone Wells, who blurted out, "I might be the only white guy with this name!" The Best High School Band award went to Prizm—from our old La Habra hood!—who later turned in the evening's most crowd-rousing, standing-O performance, even though to us it just showed what some kids can steal off Dad's old Iron Maiden LPs. The tune from 2003 Best Indie victors Afterfall, which came across like bad Queensryche, left us happy that bands were allowed only one song this year. Best Live Male Acoustic went to a shaggy gent who calls himself The White Buffalo, who got one of the biggest ovations of the evening when, after several long-winded acceptance speeches, he stepped to the mic, offered a simple "Thanks," and left.
Sideswipe were their usual fantastic selves. They billed their performance as "the last Sideswipe performance ever," which bummed us out, but we were glad at least to witness it. Best Punk went to Grounded, who won our Biggest Balls Award when they got all Michael Moore at the podium and started going on an anti-Bush tangent, to a few scattered "screw you!" and "shut up!" catcalls (though there were definitely more people applauding them than booing, and not just Martin Brown, either). Acoustic picker Brook Lee's attempt to play with a string section was a good idea, but with tipsy crowd chatter fluttering about, it didn't play well (the tune's ending was beautiful in an "Astral Weeks" kind of way, though). Best rock winner Scarlet Crush's number left us wanting more, as usual, though the obnoxious mirror ball that spun throughout gave us a migraine. Presenter Riz Story of the band Anyone was introduced as "a successful filmmaker," though if you've seen the so-bad-it's-funny trailer for his flick Goloka—where a hot naked blond chick washes up on the beach of a deserted island without a scratch on her—you know that "successful" is very broadly defined.
Electronic band Channel wasted everybody's time setting up a video to accompany their performance, which turned out to be worse than wretched (Fifi Larue should've been protesting Channel). People we like won some awards, such as Natural Afrodisiac and the Helmut Stein Experience. The harp player in Blues BBQ was smokin'. Buchanan took forever setting up to play their OCMA-closing 40-minute set, but everyone who stuck around got to see a band that's clearly one of the two or three best in the country (that's country, not county). And every fourth person who won an award thanked God/The Almighty—who showed His/Her appreciation by not even bothering to show up. Actually, since Martin Brown is the one most responsible for the OCMAs, we've concluded that Brown is God, and that makes Fifi Larue . . . Satan! Let Armageddon commence!