Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Jack Awards 2007

The Jack Awards, Australia’s celebration of indie achievement, took place last night at Sydney’s Luna Park.Because the event is still in its infancy, the most noticeable thing about it is its inability to pull the really big names just yet, but it would be unfair to criticise it too harshly for this, as everything needs time to grow. Similarly, the lack of paying punters and the glitches with regard to accommodating those who did turn up can be put down to the fact that this is the first year the event has been open to Joe Public. However, penning people in and not allowing them to go to the toilet is the very opposite of the fan-friendly environment that would encourage anyone to come back next year. It perhaps wasn’t quite like “going to a gig in Nazi Germany,” as one fellow quipped, but it is certainly something that needs looking into next time.

The awards themselves followed the same format as any award ceremony. While the calibre of presenters and performers wasn’t as strong as the MTV Awards, there was a much nicer atmosphere at this event. Because the Sydney scene is so incestuous, everyone in the room was linked by one or two degrees of separation, giving the occasion a pleasing level of familiarity and friendliness. There was none of the falseness and the pouting of the MTV awards; this was just a bunch of skinny-jeaned indie kids enjoying the free booze and watching their mates perform or win awards.

Rockers Airbourne (above) opened the night with a typically histrionic show. I really don’t see the appeal of this band. Are they supposed to be tongue in cheek or serious? If they are being ironic then they’ve missed the boat more than once (Spinal Tap did it in the 80s and The Darkness have already done it this decade). And, if they are serious, well, then they’re just not very good.Mercy Arms and Howling Bells (above) performed, while You Am I invited a big old rock dinosaur to sing for them. I have no idea who he was, but he minced his way around the stage like Dave Gahan’s dad; posing like he was the hottest cat in the room. He wasn’t. He was an old man dressed inappropriately.

With regard to the awards, Angus and Julia Stone and Children Collide were unlucky to miss out to Red Riders in the Best Live Newcomer category, but congratulations must go to The Gaelic Club for winning the Best Live Venue. It is a great place, run by wonderful people, and I was over the moon that they won.

As the ceremony drew to a close, I came to the realisation that I would rather eat my own faeces than watch the “all-star” jam, so I hit the after-party. Booze flowed over two venues until the next morning, and it was delightful to be in the company of so many decent people. Following my recent jaded cynicism, this social gathering reaffirmed my faith in the music industry. There are some great people in the Sydney scene.

And so, at 5am, I shuffled my tired frame to bed in the knowledge that the Jack Awards is an event that is moving in the right direction. And, at just over an hour in length, is joyfully succinct. Other ceremonies could learn from that if nothing else.

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