Once a year NME and Austin, Texas pledge their loyal oath to the giants of the music industry with an awards ceremony in London’s Brixton Academy.
After a full year of attending stadiums and backstreet sticky floor pub gigs, NME pay homage to the musical trailblazers and up and coming melody makers from the UK and international scene. This inevitably culminates in a boozy evening of big sound, ultra-cool indie kids, and gives those of us with extensive CD and vinyl collections, the chance to do what we enjoy most, see live music in an awesome venue.
The NME 2016 Music Awards
I was lucky enough to be hosted by Kevin, the managing director at MDS Ideas who represents the Texan city of Austin. This was a rare treat for me as in previous years I was sitting up in the gods, paying GBP6.50 for my pints with no gift bag or pulled pork sandwich to line the stomach. So with a table full of booze, boozy characters and clear view of the stage, I sat back and watched as newcomers Rat Boy got overly excited in the way young blokes do when their music is finally recognised.
Music has a way of bonding an entire audience. It sees people filling massive arenas, dancing in the streets and staying up for days at festivals. But it also acts as a catalyst for experiences such as weddings, tribal ceremonies, gatherings of friends and has the ability to bring a memory back to life when a familiar song is heard from a café or passing car stereo.
I’ve travelled the globe for most of my life and music constantly features. Travel and music fit together so well it’s as if some divine deity looking to reward the human race, chose two of the most enjoyable pleasures known to man, slotted them together and sent them to earth – kind of like the best blind date ever. I travel nowhere without music swarming through my headphone cables. Some may say I’m missing out on what is happening around me but I say (are you ready for this folks)…it puts a stride in my step and makes it easier for me to remember where I was at certain times in my life.
For example, when Thurston Moore from the band Sonic Youth (perhaps my favourite band of all time) dedicated a poem to Yoko Ono at the NME Awards, it took me back to being a youthful 16 years old in New Zealand. I remember pushing my way to the front of the Auckland Town Hall for their ‘Dirty’ tour, and a few years later I sat upstairs watching their ‘Washing Machine’ gig at the same venue. But as much of a privilege as it was for me, here was one of my musical hero’s on stage dedicating and ode to one of his musical hero’s.
A personal treat for me was the chance to see Foals driving their most recent release ‘What Went Down’ through the Academy speakers. As they played, it reminded me of a failed attempt to see them perform at Glastonbury after the release of their first album ‘Antidotes’. Unfortunately I had overindulged earlier in the day, and ended up back at my tent asleep and covered in mud, whilst Foals and all the bands who followed were playing. Not one of my finest moments. But here they were, larger than life and more than filling all four walls, as well as making up for my poor previous attempt.
One band that can be depended on to manipulate musical instruments and soothe the ears is The Maccabees. Their latest album ‘Marks to Prove It’ is a masterful work of art and platforms the bands evolution, journey and experience through four albums. The lead singer Orlando Weeks and band delivered a performance powerful enough to reach even those sitting up in the gods.
What I like about the NME Awards is they allow fresh bands to make a name for themselves, perpetuating new music and trends within the industry. Rat Boy, who I believe were a firm favourite on the NME Awards Tour, is a band I hadn’t previously heard who took to the stage exerting high-octane youthful energy. I expect this young bunch are just at the beginning of what may be a long journey for them.
Innovation Award winners ‘Bring Me The Horizon’ took their performance into the crowd and onto the table of Coldplay spilling drinks in an effort to give the audience a more memorable experience, ending with an epic stage dive.
The finale of the night always ends with one band or artist being honoured with a ‘godlike genius’ award. Previous winners have included Suede, Blondie, Dave Grohl, and Paul Weller so it’s no surprise that the bar is set highly. The 2016 musical artists who in the eyes of NME have been elevated to Godlike Genius were Coldplay, who after seven albums have honed and finely tuned their live performances. In all honesty, I’m not really what I would call a fan but they put on a good show. They spent 40 minutes carefully whipping the audience into a frenzy, getting people up from their chairs to dance and successfully blazing the trail for future winners of this illustrious award.
So NME – as a hardened music fan I salute you. You once again were able to strip away the rubbish typically associated with the music industry and serve up a bountiful feast of what I want – pure uninterrupted music!