The East Coast Music Awards are a swarm of talent. They move in, they flood your city with music, and throw a big award show. For a lot of people it’s a great introduction to some fantastic music. For us it was a great chance to catch some live performances from bands we’ve been reviewing to see how they stack up. We didn’t get to see everyone because there were just that many bands, but here’s what we liked best this year.
We didn’t quite know what to expect with Reeny Smith, and the experience has still left us a bit baffled. We caught her at Saturday’s R&B/Soul Stage, and as she told us, anywhere we congregate is church. Walking in to Market Square and seeing people with their hands raised in praise, singing along to hymns with their eyes closed was probably the last thing I expected.
Stephen Lewis & The Big Band Of Fun
This one is a guilty pleasure we don’t feel guilty about. As the current president of FEELS GOOD, the peeps behind Folly Fest, Stephen Lewis is guaranteed to bring the party. This is the one show we know that all of our festival friends will be at. It’s like a little bit of a summer family reunion wherever we are. Stevie Lew also knows how to get up, get up, and get back down with some serious funk. He’s also one of greatest unintentional motivational speakers ever.
The Motorleague are one of those bands that despite only being a couple hours away in Moncton, we rarely get to see. This year they won the award for Rock Recording Of The Year (which they say makes the whisky taste like the inside of a microwave), and from their live shows they absolutely deserved it.
Owen Meany’s Batting Stance
Amidst all the loud stages (and even louder Country Stage) of the Delta hotel, Owen Meany’s Batting Stance gave a comparatively quiet but well received performance. Except for us. We giggled the whole time knowing the rest of The East’s staff would be jealous, sending back just enough tidbits of concert footage to make them regret missing OMBS’s set at Flourish Festival last week.
The Big Man himself. Matt Andersen puts on a great show on his own, but wow, was that cover of Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’ with Ian Janes ever something else.
Like A Motorcycle
This was a bit of a surprise. We’d never seen Halifax’s Like A Motorcycle before, and then suddenly they were everywhere we turned. Started with award for Rising Star Of The Year, and then being followed by every lobby, venue, and sidewalk. It was like the universe was telling us something. If we missed any performances it was probably because of these guys. We caught them on stage no less than three times, and we’ve got no regrets. There’s a reason they’re taking home Rising Star Of The Year – those high energy performances are worth seeing for the onstage guitar battles alone.
Here’s a given no matter where we are. Hillsburn may have taken home the award for Video Of The Year but we still feel this band is grossly underrated. Rosanna Burrill is just a conduit for the universe when she sings. Seeing Hillsburn perform at the Sanctuary Theatre was even more of a treat, but next year we want to see them on the big stage or we’ll boycott.
Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire
Anyone who watched the award show knew this one was coming. Serge Brideau, the large bearded and bedressed frontman for Group Recording & Francophone Recording Artists of the Year winners Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire hoisted New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant like a child and thanked our Irving overlords during their acceptance speech. They gave language transcending performances, and basically stole the show all week on stage and off.
T. Thomason (Honourable Mention)
T. wasn’t even playing. He just showed up and surprised everyone. As the star of the webseries ‘Babes’ and a Halifax music legend who rocked our socks with their single ‘My Kind’ it was just kind of great to finally meet him in person.