The OC Music Awards Last Night at the City National Grove of Anaheim

Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
The Growlers won Best Surf
10th Annual OC Music Awards 
The City National Grove of Anaheim

As the 10th Annual OC Music Awards sails off into our memories, there are a few highlights to discuss. 

The final awards show, held Saturday night at the City National Grove of Anaheim, was a well-produced, smoothly run affair, thanks to the efforts of directors Luke Allen and Ashley Eckenweiler. It lived up to its promise of offering local musicians the opportunity to get some well-deserved exposure. And the event didn't disappoint, offering its fair share of rousing live performances and surprise winners. 

There were also a couple of unexpected outbursts (or expected, depending on how you look at it), not the least of which occurred immediately after the show, when Weekly Music Editor Lille Bose and I were approached by the mother of the band who just won for Best Electronic Act, the ever-entertaining freak-rap trio BLOK
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
BLOK won Best Electronica. Their mom believes they're geniuses
Mama BLOK accused me of trashing her daughter, co-MC Gianna Gianna, in previous blog posts, adding that she had never read such weird reviews and admonished me to "stick to the music," which she insisted was genius. 

Indeed. Perhaps we should all stick to music from now on, especially BLOK, who rely heavily on visual gimmickry in their live performances. I would add I have given BLOK favorable press in the past, specifically in an interview with front man Damien Blaise published in a question-and-answer format--a style that serves as easy publicity for musicians looking to gain exposure. 

As for the bands who were trashed during the weeks-long lead-up to the final event, be thankful--scores of hard-working musicians never achieve a level of notoriety that affords the opportunity for a good critical trashing.

As for the music, the show consisted of the announcement of 21 awards, each decided by an academy of music journalists, radio DJs, venue owners and other industry professionals.  A lifetime-achievement award was presented to Stan Freese and an impact award given to Social Distortion. Each was handed out by various industry insiders and event sponsors including Weekly Editor in Chief Ted B. Kissell and Music Editor Lille Bose.  

The presentations were interspersed with several live performances from an eclectic coterie of musicians including Stacy Clark, The Steelwells, Evan Stone's Jazz Comporium, Micah Brown, Dahga Bloom and others.  

Most of these artists performed at earlier showcases, with the notable exception of psychedelic experimental band Dahga Bloom, a shame because they gave one of the most remarkable showings of the evening.  

Sitting on a darkened stage, backed by flickering colorful geometric shapes, the sextet was configured in a tight semi-circle and played an instrumental jam featuring atonal, wheezing keyboards occasionally drowned out by wonky radio-wave sounds. This was all accompanied by a steadily chugging back beat whose conventional essence was at odds with the sonic cacophony it was backing. Truly compelling shit. 

Bluesman Micah Brown also delivered a soulful performance and showed why he deserved the title of Best Acoustic act. The axeman, who hid behind dark shades and a bushy beard while sitting on the Grove's massive stage, demonstrated once again his mastery with six strings as his fingers nimbly danced across the fret board and his rhythm hand picked out a melody with the locomotion of a hungry caterpillar.

 As for the award announcements, the big surprises (or not, depending on how you view it) included Huntington boys Avenged Sevenfold, who took the prize for Best Metal band. Not exactly an upset, the nod demonstrated the just how staggered talent in the categories can be. This particular group included well-established international acts pitted against local up-and-comers. We would have liked to see Railroad to Alaska take this one for their unique approach to a well-tread genre. No matter, they won for Best New Artist. 

Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Stan Freese was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award
​But of all the performances and award winners, nothing approached the levity brought upon the room by Stan Freese, who accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as the Disneyland music director. Freese spent 10 years as a tubaist on the '70s variety show Hee Haw and is the father of Vandals drummer and musical gun-for-hire Josh Freese. Stan's award was presented by Disney Director of Creative and Parks Entertainment Marylin Magness, who, in one of the night's other big surprises, notified the audience she had purchased her first G-string for the event. (Has somebody spiked the punch in the house of mouse?)  Before giving him his award, Magness recounted seeing Freese lead the Disney marching band down Main Street USA years ago and, unlike other band leaders who walked a straight path, would veer from side to side so he could touch the folks lining the curb. His passion for the work he's done was made apparent by a short biography beamed onto the stage's two massive monitors and included interviews with Josh Freese as well as Vandals bassist Joe Escalante. As he delivered a heartfelt acceptance speech, he was joined onstage by Mickey in the flesh--or, rather, cloth. He told aspiring musicians to be "the best you can at what you're doing." 

The night ended with the announcement of Best Album, which again went to Avenged Sevenfold. Before the prize could be claimed, however, one of the members of the electro rap duo Wildboys, a bloke who operates under the pseudonym Charles Bronson, hijacked the microphone in a Kanye West moment and said something about local indie band New Limb making a great album followed by phrases such as "I don't care if you hate me" and some shit about God blessing "faggots" and "rapists." Oh, Bronson, we can't help but wonder what mischief you'll get into next. Maybe I can introduce you to BLOK's mom. She might have some choice words for you.

Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Martin Sanchez of Wildboys has a Kanye Moment
The Crowd: An eclectic mix of young music fans, Orange County bands and older industry types. Unlike previous showcases, however, the attire was classed up slightly, lending a prom-night vibe.   

Overheard: "Stick to the music!"

Award Winners:  Click here.

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