Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Thin Is In
The lights! The cameras! The socially awkward music writers! The questionable haircuts!... ladies and gentlemen, the indie rock event of the year... the inaugural Polaris Prize ceremony. Fifty years from now those of us who were there will be able tell our grandkids about it. We'll have forgotten who won by then, but will surely remember how little there was to eat.

For those of you who weren't lucky enough to enjoy the comedic stylings of Jian Ghomeshi, I offer this diary. And, for the right price, an authentic un-used drink ticket from tonight's festivities. Get your bids in now!

7:47pm. Cross paths with Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew in the rain-soaked line-up to get in. Kevin feels strongly that his band has no chance of winning. In fact, he doesn't want to win because he doesn't want to get booed. Ah, the entirely predictable backlash. So necessary.

8:04pm. Settle in at the bar and take stock of our surroundings (my running mate for the evening is Shanda Deziel, an editor at Maclean's who is cited by Wikipedia as one of the most famous people to ever come out Leamington, Ontario). As someone else points out, the place is sort of set up like a wedding with round tables everywhere, each with a bottle of champagne. Maybe if we clink our glasses, we can get Drew and Brendan Canning to make out.

8:15pm. Ghomeshi gets things going with a few jokes about Ben Rayner and how Broken Social Scene has a lot of members. Every so often he puts his finger to his ear and claims that he has some breaking news to pass along. I know it doesn't sound funny now. But trust me, it was even less funny then. In fact, for a few seconds near the end of his monologue, it was so bad it was almost good. That moment passed quickly.

8:19pm. From his table, Drew hurls an unknown object in Ghomeshi's direction.

8:28pm. K'Naan takes the stage. Why don't he and k-os get along? They have almost exactly the same taste in headwear. Isn't that enough to bridge the gap?

8:37pm. Amanda Bynes was apparently at the Canadian Idol finale the other night. Learning this, I raise the obvious question: Is Amanda Bynes hot or not? The consensus is cute, but not hot. Just so you know.

8:45pm. A writer from Hamilton, introducing Sarah Harmer, gives a shout out to "North Burlington." North Burlington? Is Burlington so varied and cosmopolitan a metropolis that it must be divided into sections like that? Are people from North Burlington profoundly different from those in South Burlington? Is there some kind of rivalry there? Please explain.

8:47pm. "Ladies and gentlemen, the mountain herself, Sarah Harmer..."

9:01pm. J.D. Considine introduces Final Fantasy and describes himself as "chuffed." I can honestly say I've never felt "chuffed." I'm totally missing out, aren't I?

9:10pm. Final Fantasy brings out his own Harajuku Girls.

9:15pm. Rayner and Josh Ostroff offer their best impression of two grade eight students doing their language arts class presentation on why Metric is their favourite band. It was an impression, right?

9:17pm. Why aren't more people in the indie rock community riding Alexisonfire's collective jock (to use a crude sports term)? Aren't they exactly the sort of success story that we generally get all giddy about? Is it the yelling? Are they too loud? What gives? Along with the Hidden Cameras, they'll be on my ballot for next year's Polaris.

9:23pm. Adam Radwanski, in his farewell performance as the Post's music critic, introduces the Deadly Snakes, who just recently broke up. Andre Ethier on the fact the band was nominated but no longer exists: "Maybe it's a burn on us. Maybe it's a burn on you."

9:30pm. The best game to play while lurking at any indie rock gathering: Guess who is banging who. Endlessly entertaining.

9:35pm. In the video for their nomination, the New Pornographers try to start beef with Broken Social Scene. If this were the Source Awards, somebody would be getting stabbed right now. Since this is an indie rock award, everyone just smiles earnestly instead.

9:37pm. A.C. Newman says he wants Final Fantasy to win (foreshadowing!).

9:41pm. Wolf Parade take the stage and agree Final Fantasy should win (more foreshadowing!). They also ask that Rogers, the award's primary sponsor, pick up their bar tab from the previous night's boozing. (Remarkably, the Rogers executives in the building actually agree to do so. Your cable dollars at work.)

9:50pm. Cadence Weapon performs. I learn that there is absolutely nothing more entertaining than watching a bunch of white people over-compensate in their appreciation of hip-hop. Now throw your hands in the air. And wave them like you just feel really, really bad about that whole slavery thing. (This is not a shot at anyone in particular. Or Cadence Weapon, for that matter.)

9:54pm. Malajube finishes the night's performances with arguably the most enjoyable five and a half minutes of the evening (though, I must say, the evening was mostly enjoyable). Like a cross between the Verve and Sigur Ros, though somehow without sounding anything like Radiohead. The best part: they're named for a rare frog disease. I haven't heard their record and have no idea what they're saying, but I'm officially a big fan.

10:11pm. The jury has made its decision... Ghomeshi takes the envelope... ladies and gentlemen, your inaugural Polaris Prize winner... Final Fantasy! Lots of applause and whatnot... Somewhere Carl Wilson sheds a single tear of joy... Owen Pallett walks on stage and accepts a large, novelty cheque... everybody's happy.

Post Script. The best scene came shortly afterwards in a side room where Pallett was at the centre of a rather large press scrum, during which he dismissed at least one question as too "boring." Other than that disagreement, he seemed a media darling.

From what I've heard, the voting ... (Oops. Apparently you kids weren't supposed to know how the actual voting went down last night. In fact, I'm not even supposed to know. And apparently my discussion of the details has caused some furrowed brows among the organizers. I wasn't part of the actual jury so was not sworn to any kind of secrecy, but I agreed this morning to keep the details to myself... at least for now. If I get the sense that such details are getting to be common knowledge among music critics though, I'm not sure I can justify keeping such information from you, the great unwashed. Anyway.) ... The first word a juror used to describe Final Fantasy's He Poos Clouds afterwards was "interesting" and that about sums it up to me. I don't feel much either way about his music. It's... interesting...

... Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to dig my old French textbooks out of storage and start studying.

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