2011 Jagermeister Independent Music Awards

Once upon a time, a teeny-tiny awards ceremony was held at The Blackett Hotel in Sydney. The purpose of the event was to recognise the work of independent recording artists in Australia – those that were doing amazing things without the money and muscle of a major record label. There were only four awards, and only three winners: Hilltop Hoods, Gotye and Blue King Brown. Six years later, not only have those artists' careers blossomed, but so has that ceremony.


Now based in Melbourne and known as the Jagermeister Independent Music Awards, the event has almost become the crystal ball of our music industry, with many previous nominees and winners (see above) going on to enjoy great commercial success.


Created and run by Nick O'Byrne and the admirable folk at AIR (Australian Independent Record Labels Association), the awards moved to Revolt for 2011 – a beautiful warehouse venue in Melbourne's inner west - where a few hundred of the music industry's best and most stylish gathered. The walls inside were lined with big, breathtaking photographs of previous award winners, as photographers and Channel [V] cameramen darted through the buzzing crowd.


After an energetic opening performance from Calling All Cars, the affable host Dylan Lewis announced that he was pleased to see not only lots of familiar faces, but also "lots of moustaches". The night progressed swiftly from there, as Lewis and a variety of guests (including Billy Russell from Channel [V] and Derek Guille from ABC) gave speeches and announced the night's winners.


As with any award ceremony, it's almost a given that not all winners will be present to collect their trophies, but when only four out of twelve awards are collected by the actual artists, it does make one wonder whether some invitations perhaps got lost in the mail. It got so silly that at one point Lewis had to announce "sadly, the MGM representative couldn't be here tonight…" when the person meant to collect The Jezabels award for Best Independent EP/Single didn't show up.


Of course, this was nobody's fault – they are hard-working, independent artists after all – and thankfully there were pre-recorded video messages aplenty. Although most of these virtual speeches were somewhat dull and emotionless (I'm talking to you, The Jezabels…you just won Best Independent Artist, the least you can do is crack a smile!), there were some golden moments. Henry Wagons provided a solid minute of arm-pumping thank-yous from a garden in Nashville, whilst Peter Mayes of Pnau finished his message with a cheeky smile and a "Jagerbombs on me!"


There was an abundance of thanks served to Jagermeister for not only their delicious alcoholic beverage, but also their continued support of AIR and what they stand for.


Although largely a light-hearted affair, the night wasn't entirely devoid of emotion. Despite being nominated in the same category, Carlos Santone from Blue King Brown had only kind words when he honourably collected the Best Blues n Roots Album award for Gurrumul, who couldn't be there. And a solemn Adalita thanked her late best friend, collaborator and producer Dean Turner as she collected her Best Independent Album award, saying: "he would be incredibly proud right now..."


Providing outstanding performances for the night were Illy (featuring Owl Eyes), Emma Louise and The Holidays, and after another dozen sponsor thank-you's from our host, a final closing performance from Adalita.


It was a superb end to a fast but fun-filled night, and even though many of the artists weren't there, it was worth it just to support the independent music industry in general. Because as Nick O'Byrne says: "If you take away the independent sector, you're really left with a big, giant, hole of boring music."


View the full list of nominees and winners at ausindies.com/…

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