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> Monday, March 21st, 2011 > Lifestyles > Hipsters MIA at Indie Awards
Hipsters MIA at Indie Awards
Canadian University Press
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by E.D. Cauchi
Published: Monday, March 21st, 2011
TORONTO (CUP) ó There are a few understood requirements of hipsterdom, but two in particular are critical to the category: Cheap beer and pretentious apathy.
So with $8.50 Molson Canadians and a buzzing all-ages crowd, credibility is what seemed most disingenuous about Canadian Music Week's 10th annual Indie Music Awards that were handed out March 12 in Toronto.
The venue's large brass Canada crests hanging and French door balconies were uncharacteristically accompanied by two stages, blinking screen backdrops and swinging cameras that glided smoothly overhead. The conference room had been transformed into a set reminiscent of the Teen Choice Awards.
For a competition that claims to represent the best of independent artists, the combination of shiny venue, giddy all-ages audience, high priced-booze and recent Grammy performer Janelle MonŠe headlining, it had to be asked: Where were all the hipsters?
This was certainly no Polaris Prize. However, several Polaris notables were given the nod of approval. The Sadies, Shad and Karkwa were all recognized for their indie prowess with wins for Folk/Roots Artist/Group of the Year, Urban Artist of the Year and Francophone Group of the Year, respectively.
Twenty-four awards were handed out in the form of customized black guitars. The first award for Single of the Year went to Marianas Trench. They later took home the guitar for Pop Group of the Year.
Six artists each performed Canadian Music Week's standard half-hour sets. The opening band was Toronto's largely unknown Desperate Union, whose anthemic twang echoed of Nickelback.
To hammer in the bizarre setting, acclaimed alternative indie rockers Arcade Fire only took home one of their three nominations, winning Album of the Year for The Suburbs.
Alexisonfire beat them for Group or Duo of the Year, which was accepted by their flummoxed frontman George Pettit.
"I feel absolutely ridiculous accepting this award. What did we do, release an EP to mixed reviews? Arcade Fire won a fucking Grammy."
As the night drew on and the air stank with the delirious combination of sweat and a smoke machine, the hipster atmosphere slowly began peeking through the night's initial sheen. Hannah Georgas took the stage to perform her Bang, Bang, You're Dead in front of a backdrop reminiscent of Rainbow Bright. She beat out Toronto natives Owen Pallett and Diamond Rings for the title of Solo Artist of the Year.
Bombay Bicycle Club followed up with a set almost identical but equally well executed to the one they'd performed the night before. The alternative rock style of the British band was carried through by the lead singer's vocals, which had the rough boyish tone of Bright Eyes' Connor Oberst.
Montreal-based group Hollerado became winners of Video of the Year for Americanarama. They performed a full set bouncing up and down on imaginary pogo sticks to light sounds reminiscent of Vampire Weekend. With the winning song and known hits like Juliette and Happy Birthday , they launched an explosion they'd foreshadowed.
"We really wanted to explode confetti at CMW," professed lead singer Menno Versteeg two nights before. "They told us it would cost $500 for the cleaning fee, though."
After the last guitar was given out, hip-hop rapper Shad hit the stage. Losing Solo Artist of the Year was Shad's second notable loss this year after he was denied the Polaris Prize in September after being named the front-runner up until the award was announced.
The snub didn't seem to affect his projected happy mood though, even while he sang the bitter lyrics to his passive-aggressive hit Yaa I Get It.
But the best act was saved for last. For an hour and a half, the walls of the hotel seemed to reverberate with Janelle MonŠe's performance. It was truly an artistic majesty and hammered in the distinction between singers and performers.
She was not above the gimmicks, with daunting futuristic opening videos, painting on a fresh canvas throughout a song, heart-shaped confetti and crowd surfing during her encore. But her dance moves stretched from a merengue to moonwalk and her song selection energized the crowd with big band Tightrope and Cold War, but wooed them into silence during a cover of Nat King Cole's 1950s classic Smile.
It was only the second time Canadian promoters had managed to convince her to come north of the 49th parallel ó the first was to open for Arcade Fire last summer. But Canadian Music Week has clearly opened the door.
"Thank you so much," were her final words. "We will be back."