The 2011 ARIA Awards
It wasn't until the second grass mulching scene in McLeod's Daughters that I realised I wasn't watching a live performance from Seeker Lover Keeper. In fact, this wasn't even the ARIAs at all. Apparently, this year coverage of the awards had been moved from it's "Spiritual Home" at Channel Nine to a digital television channel called GO! I hadn't felt this ripped off since Packer pulled the plug on The Doug Mulray Variety Hour after Uncie D said something disparaging about Limited Overs Cricket.
Twenty-five minutes later, after a quick trip to Tandy to buy a digital set-top box, I was dialed in to the Future. Of. Television. Unfortunately due to my earlier oversight, I'd missed the red carpet coverage. More like the White Carpet, right Music Industry? Right? Right.
Safe to assume we didn't miss too much though — Guy Sebastian cut the sleeves off his suit, The Living End were dressed like extras from Jersey Boys and Rolf Harris was looking his usual dapper self. Extra hard considering the fact he peddled through the entrance on a unicycle while juggling a dozen Bindi Urwins. Bloody Australian Legend.
The past, present and future of Australian Music.
Fireworks explode like a million triumphant Living End choruses, and we are introduced to our host Dave Hughes. For those not inhabiting the East Coast of Australia, Davey is an Average Bloke, famous for hosting a bunch of variety shows. The most successful of which involves him tackling the hot topics of the week — immigration, the White Australia Policy, boat people, Muslims — in a angry/jovial tone. The highlight of his opening rant on this particular evening is a play on words making falafel sound a bit like full-of-resentment. That's why you're the king Hugho.
The opening performance of the night is by Urthboy, doing an amazingly passionate cover of a Nick Cave song. Just as he's getting to the good bit, notorious scalliwag/vixen, Kylie Minogue, hang-glides onto the stage and the DJ changes the backing-track to the Minogue/Cave duet about wild roses growing from the cement cracks of footpaths. Tupac Shakur is in his grave, just rolling around restlessly as another one of his loving ghetto poems gets butchered by a bunch of second-rate hacks. The crowd cheers loudly as we break to a 15 minute run of adverts, that includes four commercials promoting Ricky Ponting's new KFC Summertime burger. Looks pretty good.
In an attempt to make up for the fact they're already 22 minutes behind schedule, the organisers have let Huesy artistically merge the next three categories into one. Newly Unearthed, future Hall-of-Famers, Boy Vs Bear, take out the hat-trick, including Best New Act, Best New Bear and Best Bluegrass Newcomer.
Sinead O'Connor and band graciously accepting their award last night.
Molly Meldrum is now on stage, awarding a hard pat-on-the-back to Wisconsin dance act Cut Copy. During their acceptance speech they mention something about how they still call Australia home and the majority of the pro-Union audience erupts into a series of anti-Qantas chants.
Even after an 8-minute television commercial for the new limited-edition ARIA best-of DVD series, the crowd remain restless. Apparently, the complimentary blow has run out and the garlic prawns are a bit chewey. Luckily, Gotcha is now on stage, smoothing out the situation with his new-age Adult Contemporary smash hit Somebody That I Used To Know. The audience is immediately transported to the trout-fishing section of their local Berkelouw. Figuratively. Calmness is restored. Gotcha wins a dozen of the Best ARIAs they could find for his soothing powers and is immediately ear-marked as a future half-of-famer.
Hamish and Andy jump onto the stage in their usual animated fashion. Hamish makes a joke about Andy batting above his average. Michael Clarke is seen mouthing the words "too soon". Elixir wins Best Jazz Album.
The Tin Lids perform an uncharacteristically uptempo number. Halfway through their performance the cameras cut to a shot of Barnesy, Farnsy and John Paul Young in an engrossing conversation about tax loopholes, negative gearing and the European economic crisis. Around the same time Front End Loader take out the award for Best Hard Cunts/Fathers. Their acceptance speech, arguably one of the finest ever delivered in history, is cut off mid-sentence after they refuse to acknowledge Peabody, Grand Fatal or Further as the traditional rock owners of Australian Music. They also mention an upcoming gig, but foolishly fail to give any useful details on playing times or cover charges.
Art & Science are inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Midway through the traditional parading of Daryl Braithwaite's decapitated head that follows receiving the accolade, a heavily intoxicated Missy Higgins throws a shoe at Art and knocks him unconscious. The cameras pan across the audience. Danni Minogue is seen laughing uncontrollably.
Hughesy informs the crowd that Peter Garratt's scheduled acoustic performance has been cancelled, following his arrest in the carpark for (allegedly) electrocuting a 17-year old apprentice. He's been replaced by Gareth Liddiard from The Drones. The entire audience groans loudly.
Following an unappreciated performance of Shark Fin Blues, we are treated to a ninety-five minute performance by the current shining lights of the Australian hip-hop scene.
The main awards are then handed out, including Album Of The Year, Linear Notes Of The Year and Best Vegan Mexican Dish in Sydney. Reactions from the winners range from nonchalant rock-god coolness to giddy school-girl excitement.
Capping off a fairly unsuccessful evening, Peabody win none of the categories they've been nominated in. Hughesy throws to a live stream the band have set-up in their rehearsal space. It's one of the saddest things ever witnessed. Made even more tragic by the fact one the Peas has severe food poisoning. Outraged by the fact Peabody have once again been overlooked for acknowledgement, several intoxicated members of the audience are seen throwing their complimentary bottles of Jim Beam (proud sponsors of Rock N Roll) at the monitors. Phil Jameson from legendary mod-rock outfit, Grinspoon, is exceptionally animated, standing on his table demanding answers. And more Ice Cream. Eskimo Joe is attempting to calm him down. Boy from Boy & Bear, the Dappled Cities Fly bassist who wears ironic Jon Bon Jovi t-shirts and Katie Miller High-Kick are all suspiciously absence during the entire malarky.
The ceremony closes with a medley of Megan Washington performing Missy Higgins songs and Missy Higgins performing Megan Washington songs. The performance is rushed due to time restraints. The credits roll and their amazing rendition of Not Pretty Enough is muted under a series of public apologies from Kerry Packer about factual errors made during the broadcast. Hughesy waves goodbye and then informs everyone about the after-party. His apartment. BYO. But he'll provide the chive and dill dip.