The Plug Awards celebrate some of the most left field media presences and entertainers that the indie-cool subconscious (or online voters) has picked for recognition. There’s no doubt that independent media gained a true home on the binary frontier, and The Plug Awards might as well be called The Online Hipster Procrastination Awards, because most of the nominees make a living doing just that. And quite frankly, it’s a beautiful thing. Having radio and the recording industry make the big online transition with the bandwidth to back it has given all media, from Clear Water to Caribou, an equal playing field for consumer/advertiser love. Online record stores and radio shows definitely deserve some public notice and its only been in the past few years that they’ve come into full- kudos to Plug for making a point of it.
Picking Patton Oswalt to host was borderline inspired. The man just beat David Cross in an epic indie stand off, and like former host Cross, he gained his indie cred at East Side hotspot Rififi. And while most of us are about sixty years away from CBS’ demographic, his character Spence definitely had his fair share of one liners on The King of Queens (or so my parents have told me).
Headline performer Nick Cave has mad synergy. When he’s not penning scripts about nihilistic cowboys and sex addict salesmen, he’s still badass Nick Cave. Minus points for starring in a movie with Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck (as amazing as they might have been in said movie).
As for winners, it’s not a stretch of the imagination for Radiohead to conquer Record of the Year, much like they conquered an entire business model a few months ago, but Arcade Fire and Spoon could pose possible threats. For New Artist, Vampire Weekend’s quick ascension into the public eye make them a safe bet with St. Vincent and Bat For Lashes providing the competition.
Bat For Lashes
starts off a 2-song set with “What’s A Girl To Do” after Patton Oswalt calls for people to make their way from the top two floors to the main dance floor. Natasha has an amazing voice. Ironically, there are only about 50 people on the ground floor. As it’s a sold-out show, this definitely won’t last long.
8:06: After an hour-plus wait, Patton Oswalt officially starts the night with enough self-deprecating humor to win over the filled-out audience: comparing his lax physique to the slim hipsters, cracking on homoerotic hair metal videos and sticking in some impromptu potty snaps. He rehashes his infamous Ted Nugent joke in which the artist deflects bullets with his guitar. It was a lot funnier two years ago on Conan.
performs. A hipster classic rock 3-piece is augmented by a host of hipster friends who shout the chorus behind the drummer until the entourage is ushered offstage. Guitar solos and heavy drumming follow.
8:26: Oswalt announces Live Act of the Year. To the surprise of almost no one, Arcade Fire wins. Next category is Artist of the Year. Radiohead wins. Neither artist is there to receive- Patton jokes that Radiohead will be “very excited when they discover what The Plug Awards is.” Chicago violin prodigy Andrew Bird wins Male Artist of the Year.
8:29: SNL star Fred Armisen presents Female Artist of the Year. Annie Clark/St. Vincent, who will perform later, takes the honor.
performs opening track “Now Now” from her fantastic debut album Marry Me. The Sufjan Stevens/Polyphonic Spree alumnus rocks harder than on her album, closing out with a staccato thrash of drum beats and guitar strums. Second song “Your Lips Are Red” keeps in line with a much faster rhythm and punkier edge. It’s an insane change of pace from the dense orchestration and lavish production from her studio output. The concert hall is filled completely.
8:46: Via graphics projected on a floating screen, Coachella is awarded Best Music Festival and Other Music in New York wins Record Store of the Year.
8:49: Oswalt stalls before The Forms goes on. He jokes about post-ironic fashion sense and nominates fingerless drummer gloves as the next big thing. White denim would probably work too.
8:51: The Forms sound surprisingly poppy and melodic in a way that can only be described as 1993 Patrick Swayze soundtrack.
8:57: Hot Chip wins DJ of the Year. Menomena wins Album Art/Packaging of the Year. Avant Album of the Year goes to Liars. Unfortunately, the awards are not plaster. Or casts.
8:58: Indie punkers Tiny Masters of Today present Song of the Year. Paste Cover Artists The National take home the prize for “Fake Empire.”
9:03: London hip-hop upstart Dizzee Rascal performs with a rapid rhyme flow over some tinnitus-inducing beats. Very, very apprehensive head-nodding from the audience follows second song. By far the most energetic performance of the night thus far.
9:14: Annnnnnnd Magazine of the Year goes to yours truly, Paste Magazine. Three years in a row for those counting. Publisher Nick Purdy and Editor at Large Jay Sweet exchange sloppy back slaps. Must be an Atlanta/Boston thing. Punk Album goes to Gogol Bordello with Metal Album awarded to Dillinger Escape Plan. El-P presents Best New Artist to French techno-heads Justice.
9:14: Revisited Wait a second- Live Act didn’t go to Gogol? I mean, yeah, The Arcade Fire are rad and energetic and sing about sociological religious influence and burning arcades, but do they have A. Gypsy Cheerleaders B. Metaphorical buckets of fire and C. Broken china dishes. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
9:18: Jose Gonzalez performs a sombre set of acoustic broodery, giving the entire ceremony a full range of bipolar emotion after Dizzee’s lively shenanigans. Does anyone else think of Gonzalez as the downbeat love child of Art Garfunkel and Cat Stevens? Feeling desperate and alone, I text my gf and tell her we’re taking a break. Sorry Jen ): Blame Jose. You can also blame Jose for the time I called your mother neurotic and did body shots off your cousin.
9:24: Stereogum- Blog of the Year. Pitchfork- Web Site of the Year. Merge- Record Label of the Year. Quirky prog ramblers Battles win Music Video with “Atlas.” Best Americana Album goes to Iron and Wine. Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible wins Album of the Year. A few boos come from the audience- obviously not Super Bowl fans, but I’m pretty sure that Canadians love football. Or maybe that’s football as it applies to soccer. Or maybe it’s The Kids In The Hall. One of the three. Indie Album of the Year goes to Animal Collective.
9:29: Oswalt announces the real draw of the crowd with a brief video montage that takes Birthday Party veteran and post-punk auteur Nick Cave from his youth to Grinderman to his new album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!.
and The Bad Seeds arrive in gloriously pompous fashion, formal ware and all. In case you were wondering, a Nick Cave show is like glimpsing an endangered species. His gigs and media exposure have a tendency to be rare these days, but you wouldn’t notice it from his gallivanting. I’m not so much surprised by the fact that this is the same man who was once a spokes model for Hustler Magazine. The performance borders Shakespearean as Cave goes into his sing/talk theatrics. Peering down from the second floor, the man could opt for a hair cut that didn’t quite emphasize male pattern baldness so much, but the gusto more than compensates. I wish I could look at my own hairline with the same optimism.
10:02: Not to lay into a man of iconic status, but I swear I just saw Cave look at a lyric sheet.
10:03: Yes. Yes, Nick Cave does in fact use lyrical guidance in his stage performances, but I would imagine he doesn’t have much room in his brain considering the sheer amount of music he’s produced over the years. Or maybe, like Vegemite, lyric sheets are common practice in Australia.
10:21: I read an email from my editor telling me to stop using the word “hipster” as I’ve already used it four (now five) times. I remind him that I’m from Williamsburg and that my rent contract requires me to mention the word compulsively every ten minutes. Cave is really, really loud. My head is throbbing in the best way possible (I feel compelled to make a joke that would reference the word throb with one of Cave’s previous jobs, but then I remember that, unlike myself, Paste enjoys luxuries like tact and integrity. So much for double entendres).
10:32: Cave closes the set to overwhelming crowd approval to reemerge in his encore glory. More overwhelming crowd approval.
10:41: Oswalt bids farewell and the crowds disperse. Thanks for checking into our Vicarious Award Ceremony and supporting us for another year!