Avenged Sevenfold Wins Best Metal/Best Album at OC Music Awards
And the big winner was … well, no one, really.
True, Avenged Sevenfold went home with two OC Music Awards at Saturday’s 10th annual ceremony, which filled City National Grove of Anaheim and attracted more media for red-carpet arrivals than ever before. (Were they hoping for a Gwen sighting?) The Huntington Beach-based band won for best metal, naturally, and also claimed the trophy for best album, for the group’s chart-topping release Nightmare, its first work since the passing of drummer James “The Rev” Sullivan.
But being the only act to competitively win two OCMAs when 22 others also nabbed honors doesn’t exactly add up to dominance. At least last year, when Dusty Rhodes and the River Band picked up three wins, it felt like some kinda sweep: best rock, best country/Americana and best live band, two of which the group wasn’t necessarily expected to score.
By comparison, A7X’s deserved wins seemed completely obvious: of course M. Shadows and his absent gang would win best metal. Landing best album is also entirely logical, when you consider that last year’s selection, Thrice‘s Beggars, was the biggest-selling and most widely acclaimed of any disc to tumble out of O.C. in its eligibility period … just as Avenged’s Nightmare was in 2010.
Regardless, Shadows seemed genuinely flattered and even a little humbled by the honor, acknowledging local forebears (the Vandals, Death by Stereo, especially Social Distortion, “the best band to come out of Orange County, hands down”) each time he got to the mic.
He was unflappable, too: When an obnoxious doofus from Wildboyz decided to crash the podium before A7X’s frontman could reach the stage, insisting the New Limb should have won before hurling a few random f-bombs (was one of those directed at Avenged?), Shadows just took it in stride. “A little Kanye West happening up here, huh?” After which he had a few heartfelt thanks to mention. All class.
Unlike ill-chosen best rock winner Dahga Bloom.
That aimlessly experimental group — whose performance early in the ceremony proved how much potential is being squandered on willful weirdness — opted to remain silent during its acceptance. Fine by me: the prize really made more sense going to Stereofix, Sederra or, most of all, best new artist winner Railroad to Alaska. Because, you know, they play rock music.
Dahga Bloom wish they were Mogwai after OD’ing on early Flaming Lips, and if they learn something about melody such an aspiration might eventually add up to something. Here, everything about them was off-putting, and the mute shrug one of its members gave to the award was a one-chuckle gag that soon stank of oh-so-hip attitude. Guys, if you’re cooler than all of this — and with a name like Dahga Bloom, you’ve got no right acting cooler than anyone — please, next time, stay home. The show will end even faster without you.
And oy vey did this thing drag on. I started collecting social security before it was over.
Don’t ask me how to improve or tighten the program. Yes, the live music was only half-good — I say yay to Stacy Clark (who won best pop for the second year in a row) and Micah Brown (whose fleet fretwork and bluesier Jack Johnson feel explained why he won best live acoustic) and Nancy Sanchez (best Latin winner who was charming in a collaborative piece with best jazz favorite Evan Stone and his band), but I could have done without underwhelming surprise guest Julien K, the cross-dressing silliness of the Growlers (who once again claimed the best surf prize), routine hip-hop outfit I & I and even those Rolling Stone hopefuls the Steelwells.
That said, I wouldn’t argue for trimming any of them, even pretentious Dahga Bloom. Most attendees — that is, nominees plus their friends and families — came to see a show, not three hours of repetitive acceptance speeches. Yet every award here has validity: Unlike at the Grammys, the 24 categories don’t overlap much, plus it wouldn’t be much of an award show if it didn’t have special-merit notices.
This time Stan Freese — Disneyland mainstay, Hee Haw favorite and world-class tuba expert (“the Flea of tuba,” as one of his accomplished sons Josh put it) — was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, with help from Mickey Mouse in a marching-band uniform. Local punk legend Social Distortion was bestowed the Orange County Impact Award, a newer prize that last year went to Sugar Ray. Mike Ness & Co. accepted via an unmemorable prerecorded message, as they also did when they won best punk. (As with the Adolescents’ win in that category last year, Social D’s trophy honors very little work in 2010; it really ought to be theirs next year.)
Similarly, best alternative winner Thrice (who were busy playing across the county at the Musink fest in Costa Mesa) and best song champ Young the Giant (for “My Body”) accepted in pre-taped bits. That was slightly odd — like watching the People’s Choice Awards and realizing that the honorees have already been told they won well before showtime.
Also glaringly strange: many of last year’s winners won again this time. In addition to the aforementioned deja vu involving Clark, Stone and the Growlers, Yellow Red Sparks once more won best folk, the Dirty Heads were named best world for the second time, and Billy Kernkamp and Blok, along with Thrice and the Steelwells, picked up extra prizes, just in different categories than they did last year.
Not that their wins should be frowned upon. I was rooting for comeback-kid Michael Ubaldini for best country, but Kernkamp is hardly a slouching choice, while eccentric trio Blok (which won for best electronic instead of best hip-hop this year) is one of O.C.’s most unique club attractions right now. Other richly deserved wins: Parker Macy Blues for best blues and sonically adventurous Kiev for best indie. Both are ones to watch, especially the latter, currently at the top of a very short list of burgeoning acts with massive potential.
If they would just finish an album already, maybe they could challenge Social Distortion for a few of these tchotchkes next March.
OC MUSIC AWARDS 2011 — COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS
Best album: Nightmare, Avenged SevenfoldBest song: “My Body,” Young the GiantBest new artist: Railroad to AlaskaBest folk: Yellow Red SparksBest blues: Parker Macy BluesBest alternative: ThriceBest jazz: Evan StoneBest electronic: BlokBest live acoustic: Micah BrownBest live band: The SteelwellsBest metal: Avenged SevenfoldBest country/Americana: Billy KernkampBest pop: Stacy ClarkBest world: The Dirty HeadsBest hip-hop: I & IBest Latin: Nancy SanchezBest youth: Amanda LambBest surf: The GrowlersBest DJ: Thrifty LipsBest indie: KievBest rock: Dahga BloomBest punk: Social DistortionBest music video: “Amalgam,” HalosPeople’s choice: Ugly PaintLifetime Achievement Award: Stan FreeseOrange County Impact Award: Social Distortion