As the stars of Queensland’s vibrant music scene rocked the red carpet, the Brisbane Powerhouse foyer fills with industry workers, friends and supporters all waiting to find out who will take out this year’s Queensland Music Awards. Gloriously, the whole night is very much devoid of the usual pretension that can overtake these kinds of events. Everyone is really just out to support local music and celebrate all that our artists have created in the past 12 months.
The crowd is ushered into the theatre just before 7pm, keeping a tight schedule is an ongoing (and much welcomed) theme of the evening. QMusic’s Michael Crutcher opens the event, taking the opportunity to criticise the much maligned lockout laws due to hit the state mid year. Labelling the decision of cross benchers to support the laws a “betrayal,” a political sentiment that underpinned many of the speeches made throughout the night.
He then introduces the evening’s host, comedian and Triple J presenter Jen Fricker, who quite frankly, is one of the best parts of the whole event. She’s only at the podium for a minute before we were welcoming indie rockers The Belligerents onto the stage for a performance of their nominated song, “In My Way”. It’s the first of several live showcases, which are used to break up the repetitiveness symptomatic of awards nights.
The awards part of the night for the most part actually ran pretty smoothly, although it was kind of weird that a lot of the nominees seemed to be seated on the upper balcony, resulting in a slightly awkward 1-2 minutes of clapping and waiting for the winners to make it down to the podium.
Violent Soho had a big night taking out both the ‘Rock’ and ‘Song of the Year’ awards for their single “Like Soda”. No doubt this is just the start of a very big year for the Mansfield boys and it’s great to see them in attendance and supporting music in their home state. This was somewhat in stark contrast to Sheppard, who took out the ‘Export Achievement’ award and decided to accept via video link because they were all the way in… Stradbroke Island. This slight didn’t go unnoticed, most notably by Katie Noonan, who when presenting the award for ‘Highest Selling Album’ took the opportunity to voice her disgust that some people in attendance had managed to get here from SXSW in Austin, Texas, while others (cough, cough, Sheppard) hadn’t been able to make it from “Straddie.” Her comments received some nods and applause thought the message was somewhat undercut by the fact that The Veronicas, who were the recipients of the award she was presenting also accepted via video (although it seemed like they were at least much further away when doing so).
Former Courier Mail writer and local music stalwart, Noel Mengel is given the ‘Grant McLennan Lifetime Achievement’ award for his tireless efforts supporting Queensland music over the past 25 years. There are performances from Ayla, Emily Wurramara and Babies Kill Balloons, but somewhat surprisingly, the best parts of the night were mostly the speeches. Upon taking out the ‘Heavy’ award Caligula’s Horse used the platform to perform a poem of sorts, berating Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. It’s a very powerful moment and so humbling to see artists using their influence to draw attention to issues so often overlooked or ignored in our society.
Blank Realm took out ‘Album of the Year’ for Illegals In Heaven, evidently quite a surprise to the band who were so flustered on stage that they broke the glass trophy clean in half (which is about as rock n’ roll as you can get really). The ‘Bank of Queensland People’s Choice Awards’ were snagged by Joe Agius (of The Creases), Avabereé and Deena. Luke Daniel Peacock is another of the night’s big winners taking out the coveted Billy Thorpe Scholarship and ‘Indigenous’ award. He closed the event with a performance of his winning song, “Fruits Of Our Labour”.
Check out the full list of 2016 Queensland Music Awards winners here!