As we mentioned in this week’s spring pop music preview, the 2008 Plug Independent Music Awards, a sort of Grammys for the cool kids, were held at the West Side mega-venue Terminal 5 last night. And just in case you were wondering what an indie rock awards show is like, the Culture Czar was there to bring you the full report!
Well, more like a quick run down: Funny guy host Patton Oswalt began the show with some jokes about hipsters and ironic t-shirts, warming up the sold-out crowd—all of the $10 tickets were snatched up in a matter of minutes after being released last month—for what would be a less-than-three hour event. (No complaints here, it being a work night and all!).
Some musicians then performed—including the raucous and oft-blogged Texas three-piece White Denim, multi-instrumental popstress and Female Artist of the Year winner, St. Vincent (nee Annie Clark, who formerly lent her musical talents to Sufjan Stevens and the Polyphonic Spree), and spastic U.K. rapper Dizzee Rascal.
And, of course, lots of awards were handed out honoring the best under-the-radar music and media of the past year (Album: Arcade Fire; New Artist: Justice; Punk Band: Gogol Bordello; Label: Merge; Blog: Stereogum, to name just a few).
There were also a few sorta funny video clips of Michael Showalter (of MTV’s The State and the Stella comedy troupe) making mix tapes, a “blogger pit” (you know, as a service to all those people with nothing better to do on a Thursday night than read about the Plug Awards in real time), and, most importantly, free beer in the third floor “V.I.P.” section, where the Culture Czar watched the show whilst nursing clear plastic cups of Rolling Rock.
The evening reached its climax when Mr. Oswalt stepped onstage to introduce the 2008 Plug Impact Award honoree, the legendary post-punk luminary and sinister balladeer, Nick Cave. "This is what 30 years of innovation gets you,” Mr. Oswalt quipped, before handing Mr. Cave one of the pointy silver awards, to roaring applause. “A butt plug designed by David Lynch!” (Apparently, the awards were actually designed by the Flaming Lips, 2005’s Impact winners. Go figure!)
Mr. Cave and his Bad Seeds, which now include fellow Aussie, the violin-wielding Dirty Three front man, Warren Ellis, proceeded to dazzle the audience with a roughly hour-long set—including two encores—that mostly featured tracks from the group’s brand new, 14th studio album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!. While the best of these showcased the same raw aggression and showmanship that distinguished Mr. Cave’s contributions to his original 1980’s band, the Birthday Party, a few older tunes were thrown in for good measure, like the early Bad Seeds’ composition “Tupelo,” and 1994’s “Red Right Hand,” which you may or may not remember from the movie Scream.
So, to sum up the Plug Awards: If all concerts cost ten bucks, were over in about two hours, and came with free booze and a headliner of Mr. Cave’s stature, New York would be a much better place!