So the 2011 Midwest Rock Awards are done, and in the books. The show was sold out with over 500 people attending, and a great night with a solid representation of different artists and musicians represented. Jason Nivens hosted the show, coming out and doing his thing introducing the presenters, talking about the artists he knew, and showing love for the entire Midwest scene.
Several surprises, including name changes, duets, and awards that were not announced went on, and the crowd at Aftershock was amazing. The positive vibe and the way every artist showed love for each other was amazing. The show went very smooth from performances to awards, and the cheers for each winner were loud and proud.
Caesura opened the night with a solid performance like no other that we have ever seen from them. They set the tone early, along with bringing Casi McCall from InLike to do a duet. They announced a name change to “Killing the Calm” and will no longer be known as Caesura after many years of being known by Caesura. Jack Nasty took home Bassist of the year, and he showed on stage exactly why he won that award. The whole band was energetic, on time, and was performing at the peak of where they have developed to since coming back on the scene after a brief hiatus to retool the group and choose their direction.
The Tempest came out after a few awards were presented and they were in form to show what happens when you deprive a band of a stage for an extended period of time. They were ready and hungry to play. I have seen them play many times and have been critical of their stage show being too rehearsed. I have also knocked on them many times about development and timing, and how they needed to bring that in and just have fun and let it take care of itself. They rocked it. They showed an energy that they have not shown before, vocals and sound that were extremely tight, and a totally new stage show that I still debate and question if it was rehearsed or if they just let it go and enjoyed the sold out crowd. If The Tempest can continue to perform at the level that they did at the awards show, they will move far and quick on the regional level and gain a bunch of new fans.
After some more awards were handed out, Evalyn Awake took the stage for their special acoustic set. There was some issues with sound and the direct boxes that they had to use, but it was not their fault. They played through it and did what they could to pull off their set. Equipment issues hampered their set, but they still showed they can do acoustic and unplugged exactly what they can do fully amp’ed. Tyler was on, they showed they were having fun, and despite things that were out of their control, the crowd loved it.
Obsidian took the stage and honestly, from the word go, they owned it. They without a doubt showed why they won Artist of the Year. Obsidian until this moment was always considered the underdog, and even the staff at Project Backstage was stunned when we saw the results of who won that award. When they started their set, they had that crowd pumped and totally in a rock trance that took away all the surprise and questions that we had. There was not a single inch on that stage that they did not use. The duet they did with Caitlin Kinman formerly of An Endless Chapter was totally astounding and amazing. One person even asked a staff member if they were lip-syncing because of how tight and solid their performance was (I can assure you they weren’t, we did not even have a player hooked up). Over the past year Obsidian has made more strides than 95% of the artists in this area. They have fixed many issues that they have had in the past. If you have not seen an Obsidian show lately, give them another chance, you will not be disappointed at all.
As you guessed, some more awards were presented then 49 Stones came onto the stage. When they started their set they came fighting. They raised their game for this show like many have never seen. People that were in the crowd were heard talking about them, and that they had never heard 49 Stones sound so good. This is a much better barometer than what we can ever offer in reviews, because when fans are saying it that see them often, something must be right. 49 Stones is best described as an alternative funk style music. They are not anywhere near the styles that were playing around them on the stage, but they still kept the entire crowd going, cheering, and working with them. Emma Jo of 49 Stones, and Tyler Lyon of Evalyn Awake had the duet of the evening when they sang together during the set. There is nothing bad I can say about 49 Stones and what they did, trust me, I am trying to think of something, but it just is not there. They rocked it.
Coming in next to close out the night, InLike took the stage. Casi showed her experience on a large stage, and how to wake people up that they are coming to perform. When she went into almost a acapella on the first song during the intro of “Breathe” people that were not paying attention spun their heads around. There were many “holy sh*t”, “wow”, and various other statements being said, and there was no doubt that Casi was on like I had never seen her before. If you are an InLike fan, and you missed this show, you missed an amazing moment for that entire band. Casi showed without a doubt she earned that “Female Vocalist of the Year” award, and she slayed the entire set. The suprise duet with Nick Marshal from Evalyn Awake and Casi was great. The energy from the band was weaker than the other bands, but Casi made up for it as she constantly used the stage. Don’t get me wrong, the band was amazing in energy also, I think they were afraid to move because Casi was all over the stage working the crowd. InLike’s performance was the crowd favorite of the night.
There were a lot of things that were shown during this first year of why there needs to be an independent awards show for these artists. They do not need a title or a plaque to certify what they are doing, but there needs to be something that brings all these bands together even if for one night. We will continue this tradition each year, and hope that the positive vibe that we saw this night continues, and that the pairing that every band did to perform with someone else is represented again even if not in that way. The PB staff did not ask those bands to duet with each other, they chose and took it upon themselves to do it. It showed the unity that this scene can and will have.
In the end, there could not have been a more awesome night all around. Thank you Kansas City and the artists of our scene here, you made the first year a total success and we look forward to doing it again!