Live Review: Carlton Dry Independent Music Awards

23 October 2015 | 12:58 pm | Tim Kroenert

Lewis welcomes the audience and takes care of some housekeeping, asking that everyone stay seated throughout the ceremony, "unless you really need a wee - or a spliff".

With Dylan Lewis on beer-fuelled hosting duties, a clutch of solid musical performances from some beloved local acts, and a downright charming keynote speech from none other than the original Red Wiggle Murray Cook, it's all-in-all a relaxed and collegial night for the artists, fans and industry folk who've crammed into the Meat Market's hangar-like space for the tenth annual AIR Awards.

Brisbane chanteuse Hannah Shepherd (aka Airling) appears purple-lit beneath the arcing sound-and-lighting rig, to kick off proceedings with a sultry and soulful rendition of her single Stallin'. Thereafter Lewis welcomes the audience and takes care of some housekeeping, which basically consists of showing off the new ink on his forearm, and asking that everyone stay seated throughout the ceremony, "unless you really need a wee — or a spliff". Cook's speech charts his own musical weaning on The Beatles and The Monkees, his admiration of independent Australian artists and labels in the 1970s and 1980s, and The Wiggles' later determination to retain business and creative control over their artistic output. It's highly engaging stuff; it's also oddly thrilling to hear the Red Wiggle in grown-up mode dropping an S-bomb.

In addition to being the tenth anniversary of the awards it's the 20th of AIR itself, and former executive Julie Owens (lately a Federal Labor MP) is on hand to reminisce about the early days, recalling among other things a gaffe involving AIR's distinguished independent music charts and the title of a foul-mouthed TISM song.

All photos taken by Lucinda Goodwin.

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The proceedings are punctuated by musical performances from Adelaide's Bad//Dreems — presenting their balls-out, beer-swilling rocker Cuffed & Collared — and Brisbane juggernaut Dead Letter Circus, who put a full set's worth of grunt into one song, While You Wait. John Butler also turns up with an acoustic rendition of 2007's Better Than, but really it's just filler, and feels like it; he has stepped in at the last minute for singer-songwriter and Pitjantjatjara man Frank Yamma — the winner of tonight's gong for Best Independent Country Album with Uncle — who is on his way to Alice Springs for some sorry business following a death in the family.

Melbourne indie darling Courtney Barnett predictably cleans up in the major categories, even taking out Best Independent Label for her Milk! Records to go along with gongs for Best Independent Single (Depreston), Best Independent Album (Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit) and Best Independent Artist. In light of these well-deserved accolades, Lewis' unkind albeit tongue-in-cheek allusion to a doubtful physical resemblance between Barnett (who is not present) and comedian Chris Lilley doesn't go down all that well. Luckily Melbourne's own early-Prince clone Harts is waiting in the wings to shred a killer rendition of his single Breakthrough and ensure that the evening ends on a high note.

Check out all the action in pictures from last night's event and click here for the complete look at the event's winners.