Beyond the Red Carpet

Once a year we find ourselves on the other side of the curtain. It isn't easy. It can be fun.

10:50 p.m. Someone in the audience has brought his baby, and every time presenter Zac Crain or I announce a band this man likes, he holds his baby high in the air. This fascinates us. Before long, we are not interested in the winners but in whom the baby will like. Burden Brothers? Sorta? Radiant*? "We have a winner! The baby likes Midlake!"

11 p.m. The most difficult thing about hosting something like the DOMAs is swallowing the paralyzing fear that you will suck or trip or bomb. This, of course, is the same fear confronting the artists we write about. And so, on some level, it's appropriate that once a year, we find ourselves on the other side of the criticism.

The Burden Brothers win eight awards that night--a rather astonishing nod of success. But when Todd Lewis accepts the Best Act Overall award for the Burden Brothers, a drunk guy in the audience yells out, "You suck!"

Presenter Zac Crain with the author
Bill Ellison
Presenter Zac Crain with the author
Zayra Alvarez plays an acoustic set.
Bill Ellison
Zayra Alvarez plays an acoustic set.

"Keep up the you-sucks," Lewis says. "It makes us stronger." Fortunately for Lewis, the front of the stage is bristling with kids who have come to see his band and who are throwing up the devil horns at basically anything he says.

After Lewis leaves, I say to the heckler, "Hey, dude, you know what? You suck."

He gives me a double-fisted flip-off, and I leave the stage, smiling.

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