By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
I guess you could say I spent last Thursday night behind enemy lines.
Except it wasn't really a hazardous situation. There was no threat of danger. Also: very little sneaking around. And definitely no Owen Wilson.
Still, I felt out of place. I was attending Quick's inaugural Big Thing music awards at the Palladium Ballroom.
Hell, I'd been invited. So why'd I feel weird about the whole thing?
Well, for a very obvious reason: This was Quick's big foray into the whole local music awards thing. And we here at the Observer are in the early stages of putting together this year's Dallas Observer Music Awards—our 20th, actually, ho-hum.
Yes, the whole idea of Quick's event caught me a little off-guard when I first found out about it. In the days after hearing the news, I could be found in one of three alternating moods: dismissive, pissed off and stridently confident. Mostly, I kept repeating the line, "Who do these fuckers think they are? This is our turf!" in varying tones, each of which conveyed a different subtext.
But the more I thought about it, the less I gave a hoot. In one sense, it was cute: "Awwww, look at widdle Quick trying to put together a music awards show! Let them try to come into our territory. Let them bestow honors upon the local music scene. We're all in this fight together, right?"
See, here's the thing about the Quick awards show: It kinda sucked.
And, yes, you can take that with a grain of salt, seeing as how I work for a another publication in town and whatnot. But you can also take it as a fact. The Palladium—granted, a huge space tough for anyone to fill—was pretty lame on Thursday night. Yes, there were circus performers to keep up the event's carnival theme, and yes, the nominated bands were there in force at the start of the night. But just by eyeballing it, I'd say the place never reached one-third its full capacity. And, really, that's a shame, considering how this was a free event put on, in essence, to promote local music (if not Quick itself).
Here's the really sad part, though: As the night dwindled to its close, so did the crowds. By the time the event's headliners, Dallas' hometown heroes The Polyphonic Spree, took the stage, there couldn't have been more than 400 people in attendance. (I'm being very generous with those numbers.) Certainly, it was the smallest crowd the Spree had played to in years (not counting the band's apparently notorious gig last year at Life in Deep Ellum, which people have been telling me about all week).
See, all night long, after each category's winner was announced, a larger and larger chunk of the crowd would disappear from the room. When you've got 10 nominees per category, the disgruntled loser walkout crowd adds up. Maybe Quick's powers that be naïvely expected these folks to stay at the Palladium until after the Spree's set came to a close? Maybe. But, man, when the pre-party starts at 6 p.m. and the after-party goes until 3 a.m., you're asking these people to stay in one place for a long freaking time. Especially when you consider that the performances were a little lacking.
Ghosthustler looked terribly uncomfortable on what was by far the biggest stage and room the band has ever played; the band announced its breakup just one day after the Thursday night performance, and although a large chunk of the crowd at the Palladium seemed to know this heading into the gig, the gravitas and meaning they searched for in the set were never there.
The potpourri freestyle competition between local MCs Headkrack and Playdough was lame too. Where's the fun in having a rap battle when you start the whole thing off asking that the participants refrain from cursing or bagging on each other?
Meanwhile, The King Bucks' promising-looking set was cut incredibly short as a result of the rest of the show running long and the Spree having to go onstage early enough to perform a whole set by closing time.
I'll give credit where it's due, though: The Spree, Record Hop and PPT all put on phenomenal sets—high-energy, visually engrossing, attention-grabbing, all that. But the whole energy of the night was lost because of a terrible ordering of the bill, which had the flow of the night ebbing far too often. The way-too-long, way-too-awkward award-giving process (another problem with having 10 nominees per category) that took place between those sets didn't really help either.
So was Quick's Big Thing a Big Flop? I don't know if I want to go that far.
But, see, I had to write about this event. I had to say something. It was the biggest music-oriented event in town last week and, if it didn't have Quick's name on it, writing about it would have been a no-brainer. But, alas, it did have Quick's name on it, and Quick entertainment editor Hunter Hauk, although initially receptive, declined to talk with me on the record about how he thought the night went, so, here I am, forced to say something of note in an unsourced column about the Big Thing.
Well, I'll say this: Our music awards are set to take place about three months from now, with a showcase scheduled for Saturday, July 19, and the actual awards ceremony booked for the Granada Theater on Tuesday, July 22.
And, well, now we at least know what not to do.
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