The OC Music Awards Ceremony at the Grove, Mar. 3, 2012

The OC Music Awards Ceremony
City National Grove of Anaheim
Mar. 3, 2012

Judging by the throngs of people leaving their tables before the award for best video was announced, it seems I'm not the only one who found this weekend's OC Music Awards Ceremony to be a two-hour snore fest. 

Those of us sitting at the Weekly table were trying to put our finger on where things went astray. It wasn't just the glitches, which were numerous–a total train wreck compared to last year's ceremony. Like when the nominees for best blues band were being announced only to have some event programmer blow their load prematurely and run the reel for Rodney Bingenheimer's lifetime achievement award. Or when the owners of Wahoo's Fish Taco were announcing the nominees for best surf band and the nominees for best youth rolled.
 “And the award goes to the Growlers.” 


It wasn't just the fact that more than a few bands, like the Growlers, weren't on hand to accept their awards–other no-shows included Young the Giant, (in their defense, they're on tour) as well as Social Distortion (who has skipped out on the ceremony two years running.) It certainly wasn't the performances, which saw top-shelf live music from a diverse stable of local talent including Nicole Vaughn, Boogaloo Assassins, Kiev, Jeramiah Red and Railroad to Alaska.
Ultimately, for me at least, it boils down to two scenarios: Orange County is either a shallow pond where the same fish are being caught year after year, or the OC Music Awards aren't trying hard enough to hook cool new talent. 
Case in point, by our count, four bands won two years in a row for the same categories: Best Surf-The Growlers, Best World-The Dirty Heads, Best Indie-Kiev, Best DJ-Thrifty Lips. We were treated to a little diversity when Blok didn't won for best Hip Hop and instead took best electronic, while last year's people's choice winners, Ugly Paint, won this year for best youth band.

OCMA organizers can't expect people be excited by an event that recycles the same winners over and over–especially in the categories that matter most to the younger, music-savvy members in the crowd. And when apples and oranges are mixed the way they were with the best punk category it's a tad baffling. Last night saw the Adolescents, a band which formed in 1980, take the top prize. If the decision had been up to me, I would have given it to Death Hymn Number 9, who aside from being a thrilling new act, are advancing fresher sonic concepts than a band of dinosaurs from punk's heyday. The Adolescents are legends. They belong in a category with other legends.
That's not to say the awards given lats night weren't deserved–although there are some associated with competition who have suggested the whole thing is rigged–but handing out glass sculptures to the same bands year after year will diminish the potency of the honor, and make for a dull annual event. 
Discussions about nepotism aside, the show had a few shimmering moments, notably with indie band Kie'vs live performance. Before their song, the audience was instructed to grab a pair of 3D glasses from their gift bags. As the band played, the dimmed stage was backlit by a screen beaming three-dimensional images of animated cloud figures and expanding color bubbles. 
It was also heartening to see perennial KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer get some recognition for all the work he's done exposing OC talent such as No Doubt, Agent Orange, The Adolescents and the Offspring to wider audiences. Considering the alternative radio station's corporate approach to musical programming, it may not be an exaggeration to refer to Bingenheimer as the “soul of KROQ.” 
Here's a partial list of winners. For a complete list as well as the nominees, visit the OC Music Awards website:
Best Folk- Micah Brown
Best Punk – Adolescents
Best Surf – The Growlers
Best Youth – Ugly Paint
Best Acoustic – Allensworth
Best World – Dirty Heads
Best Country/Americana – Nicole Vaughn and her Lovely Band
Best Hip Hop – Blok
Best Rock – Thrice
Best Live Band – Railroad to Alaska
Best Latin – Boogaloo Assassins
Best Album – The Aquabats for Hi Five Soup
Best DJ – Thrifty Lips
Best Indie – Kiev
Best Jazz – Nancy Sanchez
Best Metal – Railroad to Alaska
Best New Artist – Jeramiah Red
People's Choice – Fusion Beat
Best Video – Young the Giant for Cough Syrup
Impact Award – Thrice
Best Album – Social Distortion for  Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes

The crowd: Same as earlier showcases but folks were wearing their finer threads. One girl was rocking Minnie Mouse ears and a camel toe.
Overheard: “I should've stayed home and tortured my genitals. Even that wouldn't have lasted two hours.”
Random Notebook Dump: It was hard to miss event host Psycho Mike's garish yellow suit. I joked with others at the Weekly's table that he must have been channeling late, great sportscaster Howard Cosell. I got blank stares accompanied by crickets.

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