Reflections on the LMA’s

Award shows never end up being about the awards. The Oscars place just as much importance on red carpet fashion as they do on choosing which actress is going to touch the hearts of America with a tearful acceptance speech. The Emmys are much the same with the added offense of rewarding shows with laugh tracks. After grinding my teeth through this year’s Grammys, I came to the conclusion that whoever does the most drugs or ruins the mystique of a live Daft Punk performance should get a loving pat on the back. The Local Music Awards, sans a grinning Jack Nicholson, share in this phenomenon.
As I watched the party at the Highdive last week, for a party it was, I tried to develop a neutral view of what was taking place. In a perfect world, the entire music community would be represented in some way, the best bands would win each category and everyone would be having a grand old time compliments of another eight bottles of Jack Daniels. What actually took place was far from this harmonious utopia, but there were triumphs amid the controversy.
I saw friends having a great time together enjoying great performances from Agent Mos, Corn Desert Ramblers, Carl Hauck, Snowsera and Scurvine. Artists, whether stoic or emotionally charged, humbly accepted their awards. Poster Children members, Rick Valentin and Rose Marshack, had an especially meaningful observation during their Lifetime Achievement speech, “When we first came here, we did not know what local music was. We realized local bands could be as good as bands you hear on record.” Best Rock Artist winners Headlights can attest to that. Not one person was surprised they were unable to attend after the recent release of their record and subsequent tour. The photos available on reveal a fun atmosphere built on a strong music scene, images that some may not have expected at the event.
The Local Music Awards were steeped in controversy this year, deserved or not. The discontent followed the awards to downtown Champaign, manifested in the charity show next door at Memphis on Main. I thought the absence of some great CU bands would be an elephant in the Highdive’s stage room, but I was impressed with the respect everyone paid each other. People traveled between both shows and I heard positive comments for each band. As soon as Scurvine was finished, I headed next door and checked out the rest of the charity show. It looked like everyone was having a first-class time and just happy with the turnout, even after pepper spray temporarily
cleared the building.
Illini Media did a great job with this year’s awards, but of course there is always room for improvement. I think a regular obsession with local music would result in more positive response from the community. Yes, local music gets played on WPGU, buzz is constantly interviewing local artists and is off to a great start (Band of the Week Feature coming soon!), however there is still a strong feeling of alienation felt by some bands. I think this results from the seemingly temporary obsession with local music during the weeks leading up to the LMA’s. Seemingly is the important word. Illini Media is always looking to boost local talent with exposure, but when the LMA’s are over it looks like the support withdraws as well. This is simply not the case, and if you think it is then pay attention to the new efforts being made to incorporate more local exposure. I’m looking forward to future LMA’s that will be a uniting force, not an estranging one.

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