Celebrating its 11th anniversary, the OC Music Awards kicks off on January 3rd with seven weeks of free showcases at different venues across the county. 35 local artists will compete for the titles of Best Live Band or Best Live Acoustic and a performance slot at the 2012 OC Music Awards, March 3 at the Grove of Anaheim. And, the voting is open now!
Hardcore Angeleno arguments be damned, there is something inherently “punk rock” about the music scene vibe in Orange County. Although there are always exceptions to every rule, O.C. bands seem to embody an old school rock ‘n roll mentality: perseverance, friendliness, hard work, and almost equally as hard play.
Less fronting for industry people and more the sense of a collective of artists striving for the same musical dream.
An eclectic mix of bands played–like hard blues-rockers, Jeramiah Red, orchestral pop collective, Paulie Pesh & The Vitals, quirky noise-poppers, The Gromble, somber coastal indie rockers, Strange Birds, and talented drumming lead man, James Fletcher.
In the spirit of the aforementioned punk rock, which I gather is about as honest a musical genre as possible, I didn’t get to see Jeramiah Red because I got caught up in an interview.
From the whispers in the crowd though, I heard they rocked it and I promised the boys that I would “make it up to them” by seeing them next Wednesday in the Constellation Room at the newly-renamed Galaxy Theater-turned-Observatory.
I did make it on time to see the birthday boy, Paulie Pesh, and all his Vitals, including his wife Cristal Pesh. Donning a birthday button from Disneyland, last night was Paulie’s 26th birthday, which he celebrated at the “happiest place on earth”–on stage with all of his closest friends and with the rest in the audience.
While the jangly, larger-than-life pop cathedrals of sound certainly punch through on their recorded stuff, nothing can prepare the listener for the full-frontal orchestral assault of about fifteen people playing instruments on the tiny Detroit Bar stage.
Pesh and company are effervescent, alive with good vibes, and obviously talented considering that, despite the small space and their close proximity to each other, the band didn’t fall into a mishmashed cacophony. I’d really like to see them in a giant auditorium though.
More horns were to abound onstage after Paulie Pesh & The Vitals, whether they be the one that The Gromble frontman, Spencer Askin, played or the ones on his head. All compltely-loving joking aside, Askin and his fair young friends showed last night what a difference a year makes in the career of an evolving musician.
While The Gromble could have previously been lumped into the same giddy, crunchy power pop as [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Weezer[/lastfm], they showed a darker side last night: moments of brooding intensity on Askin’s face, a manic high-kick or two, and the sense that behind the glossy exteriors of indie rock songwriting was something vaguely lurid.
Which is completely my thing.
Strange Birds were dark in a totally different way with misty tones that play up the inherent somber mystery of their collective personalities but with a sort of calm-centered existentialist vibe. Strange Birds’ new music is actually stunningly beautiful, in a heartbreaking sort of way, and is a little more upbeat than how they sounded last night.
Most of that was a product of poor sound mixing which irked front man, Aidin Sadeghi, throughout their whole set. Sadeghi was constantly signaling to the sound guy to turn up his vocals.
Even though I was taking pictures, at one point, I had to go stand in the back because the sound was so awful and crunchy, it was hurting my head. I’ve seen Strange Birds before and I can tell you this is no fault of their own.
The night ended with the mellow, groovy tones of drumming frontman, James Fletcher. Fletcher’s set was a perfect way to end the night, a warm, lullaby of sound enveloping the listener in country-style psychedelic-tinged bliss.
Fletcher “name dropped” his father a couple of times, who apparently was in the audience, and I found myself being drawn into the pleasant, soft stage banter almost as much as his impeccable drumming and the dreamy steel guitar.
The 2012 Showcase Series runs every Tuesday night, January 3 –February 14 with stops at:
Jan 3 – Detroit Bar
Jan 10- The District at Tustin Legacy
Jan 17 – The Slide Bar
Jan 24 –Malones
Jan 31 – Tiki Bar
Feb 7 – The Continental Room
Feb 14 –Constellation Room
Five Showcase Series finalists in each live category will then move on to the Showcase Series Finals.
Feb 24 – Best Live Acoustic Finals
Feb 25 – Best Live band Finals
2012 Best Live Band winner will receive a performance slot on the four Southern Califonia Vans Warped Tour stops!
You have the power to send one Showcase artist to the Best Live Acoustic Finals and Best Live Band Finals.
Cast your vote and enter to win a massive prize pack from the OC Music Awards partners (To be Announced). Voting will begin on December 27 and will be open through the last Showcase on February 14. The votes will be tallied and the band with highest score will automatically move on to their Series Finals! Click here to vote
LEARN MORE AT: OCMUSICAWARDS.COM