Live Review: The Age Music Victoria Awards

17 November 2016 | 12:11 pm | Bradley Armstrong

"Worth that pesky Uber fare home and even tomorrow's hangover."

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Tonight we honour the local titans that make our weekends. The Age Music Victoria Awards is our chance to show appreciation for our favourite artistic misfits. Descending 170 Russell's steps relatively early in the evening, the room is already packed (!). This may or may not have something to do with the free booze.

Lyndelle Wilkinson (PBS) and Chris Gill (Triple R) return for hosting duties again this year and the night begins with the genre awards (specialist categories such as jazz, avant-garde etc.) followed by the public-voted categories, which see King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (Best Album, Best Band and Best Live Band), The Drones (Best Song, Best Regional Act) and Meredith Music Festival collect trophies. The Tote pick up the new Best Venue Under 500 Capacity award and Corner Hotel once again claim Best Venue Over 500 Capacity. CW Stoneking will need to make room for another trophy (Best Male) and newcomer Alex Lahey looks gobsmacked to be Best Female recipient so early on in her career.    

The rabble's constant din coupled with the need to consistently visit the bar to make use of that tab (someone's gotta do it) make it a little hard to concentrate. Following a stupidly quick change into his Megahertz gear by captain Gill, the awards comes to a peak, rounding out with the induction of local institution Triple R into The Age Music Victoria Hall Of Fame. It's a rather heartfelt moment as a brief video showcasing the station's 40 years and legends it's spawned along with a retrospective speech by Adalita and one by the station's founders. Many in the room hold this station in high regard since it's played a vital role in their music-loving lives. Here's to another 40 years, you handsome devils!

With the formalities over, it's time to crank up the PA as well as well that blood alcohol concentration. The After Party is open to the public and the room gets even more crammed as punters pile in to get in on the action. Tash Sultana kicks things off and, backed only by visuals of water on the cyclorama, she delivers an incredibly full sound that reaches the back of the room with ease. Relying predominantly on guitar loops, Sultana just kills it right from the beginning and displays her passion through each track. A shame Sultana's is only a brief set.

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Camp Cope follow and open with (what is now) a certified banger: Done. Unfortunately the mix is a little muddy with the guitar sounding weak and, in a dual suffering, Georgia Maq's vocals also get lost somewhere in the fray. Jet Fuel Can't Melt Steel Beams is a little cleaner but none of this deters the enthusiastic audience.

The fabled EG AllStars band make a welcome return. Made up of members from the RocKwiz band with a rotating cast of guest vocalists from all walks, they begin with Freya Josephine Hollick followed by Gawurra (each performing covers). Perhaps it's their styles of music, but they kinda don't get the attention they deserve. Remi on the other hand (sporting a backpack and looking like he just quickly ducked in to break up his commute home) gets a god-like reception, upping the energy. This continues with Pierce Brothers, who bound around the stage as if it were a bouncy castle. The peak comes when The Drones' Gareth Liddiard and Dan Luscombe take the stage with Liddiard behind his regular axe while Luscombe (perhaps as a nod to his hilarious guitar woes during the band's Melbourne Town Hall performance over the weekend) takes to bongos quite enthusiastically (although also quite inaudible). It feels as if The EG Allstars could keep this up all night and hats off to the band for being so incredibly diverse and making it all sound so easy.

The room clears out a bit as the clock ticks away. But the moment that (The Age Music Victoria Best Global Or Reggae Album Award-winning) Melbourne Ska Orchestra take to the stage that decision of whether to bolt for the last tram is made for us with a big, 'Fuck that, Uber it is!'. The 20-odd-piece band are simply on fire (as expected) and their energy level and randomness are also off the charts. Led by the charismatic Nicky Bomba, the band play off one another so naturally that a party forms on stage. Mid-set and mid-song, the band respond to an audience member taking a photo in the best way possible and literally stop playing before gathering in a huddle for the snap-happy punter. Then in a hazy whirlwind of getting down, it's all over and worth that pesky Uber fare home and even tomorrow's hangover.