Do you ever look at yourself and think ‘how did I get here?’ David Byrne, you can put your hand down, but the rest of you, it’s a surreal feeling, isn’t it? Like for a brief second you look at your life from outside the confides of your own head and realise what is going on is unexpected and, since we’re being honest, weird as hell. Well, this feeling last night stretched on for a good few hours as I stood watch in the audience for The Age Music Victoria Awards.

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Instantly recognising that I’d fucked up with the dress code as a line of 50 people in black tie stood before me, I swallowed hard and accepted my place as the black sheep of the night. I walk down the steps of 170 Russell (that I know I will one day fall down) and turn up to a hectic bar and a near silent floor. Later I will find out the reason for this, a tab provided by the night’s various and diverse sponsors, but at this point I have no idea. As me and my friend talk on our way up towards the stage, a middle aged man shushes her. Apparently this is very serious business.

RRR presenter and Northside Records main man Chris Gill, in a white suit and with his truly impressive afro, jokes to the audience and introduces the first act, Harts. I’m pretty sure Harts as a man is comprised of 80% guitar solo. Most of his time on stage is spent noodling away at a guitar that looks way less beaten up than it rightfully should be considering how it’s being flung around. When they say it’s a short set, they mean it, as about 12 minutes later Harts is walking offstage. Time for the genre awards.

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Right off the bat the brilliant Emma Donovan and The Putbacks take out the award for Best Soul Album, adding another title to her already prolific collection of accolades. A collection of names, big and small, go at each other behind the scenes, but all the audience sees are the victors. Raised by Eagles. Roland Tings. Fiona Boyes. Maundz takes out best hip hop album in a way completely fitting (‘fuck the mainstream’), while Barney Macall’s dad proved that charisma must run in the family. Quarter Street. Tolka. Emma Donovan again (you see what I mean by prolific). High Tension give a literal shout out to King Parrot making most everyone jump, and Carolyn Connors gives what almost feels like an epilogue to her panel on the experimental scene at the Listen Conference last week. And there is me, clapping along and taking names that I am so used to reading out on a flat piece of paper the next day. Life is strange like that.

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Marlon Williams tears into his guitar in a way that is not entirely different from how Andrew Jackson Jihad did on the same stage two months back. The lad croons to the audience before releasing out into the air a steel stringed hell, a fast paced and almost angry melody. As the set goes on he loses speed but keeps the intensity, the final performance of the night from his crew sounding like a folksy sequel to Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand.’

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Coming out with ‘Depreston’, Courtney Barnett’s (funnily enough) depressingly existentialist song is given massive applause the moment the first twinkling notes come offstage. Next is ‘Avant Gardener’, in which we get to see Barnett get paid by The Age to sing about smoking bongs. She finishes up with ‘Pedestrian At Best’, growling and spitting out the lyrics as if they were needles. Her vocals are as vicious as when she immerged on the scene three years back now. Later on in the night she takes out four different awards, and in those ten minutes, as she gets so many folks dressed up to the nines to throw their fists about in the air, it’s clear why she deserves them.

Bee Spence


Best Album
Sometimes I Sit and Think and, Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney Barnett

Best Song
‘Depreston’ – Courtney Barnett

Best Male Artist
C.W. Stoneking

Best Female Artist
Courtney Barnett

Best Emerging Artist
Raised By Eagles

Best Regional Act
Cosmic Psychos

Best Regional Venue
Theatre Royal

Best Venue
Corner Hotel

Best Festival
Golden Plains

Best Live Band
The Smith Street Band

Best Band
Courtney Barnett

Best Blues Album
Box & Dice – Fiona Boyes

Best Country Album
Diamonds in the Bloodstream – Raised By Eagles

Best Soul, Funk, R’n’B and Gospel Album
Dawn Emma Donovan & The Putback

Best Jazz Album
Mooroolbark – Barney McAll

Best Hip Hop Album
Nobody’s Business – Maundz

Best Electronic Act
Roland Tings

Best Heavy Album
Bully – High Tension

Best Indigenous Act
Emma Donovan

Best Global or Reggae Album
Quarter Street – Quarter Street

Best Folk Roots Album
One House – Tolka

Best Experimental/Avant-Garde Act
Carolyn Connors

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