About a month ago, I foolishly agreed to introduce some nominees and winners at this year's Pitch Music Awards, held last Sunday night at the Uptown Theater. I would be onstage only a few minutes, but still I spent the better part of last week filled with great dread about it. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was outwardly irritable, snapping at friends and slow grocery sackers. "I hadn't realized we invited Mr. Crabby to dinner," a friend said as I sat brooding over our preshow meal. It was then suggested that we leave the restaurant and try to forget that the meal had ever happened.
Backstage at the show, I tracked down host Eric "Mean" Melin and tried to impart to him that the less time I spent speaking onstage, the smoother the evening would go. Unlike me, Melin is gregarious and likable, so he just laughed and told me not to worry about it, that we'd just banter a little before I announced the nominees.
"I don't think you're quite hearing me," I said, my eyes narrowing. "I am not cut out for improvisational banter. I mumble. I am not very smart. I am a slow thinker. I can't even write fast. I'm a bad writer, and nobody likes me."
Melin laughed again and slapped me on the back. "It'll be funny," he said, and walked off.
"Everyone is going to regret this!" I yelled after him, but he wasn't listening anymore.
I paced around for the next half-hour, and when my time came, it went about as I thought it would: I was briefly heckled; I made a dumb joke that bombed; I spoke too close to the microphone; and I got the hell offstage as soon as possible. That a long cane didn't materialize to yank me from the audience's scornful gaze seemed a small miracle.
But there I go, making everything about me again. The Pitch Music Awards, of course, is about our fine local-music community, of which I am grateful to be a tiny part, and Sunday night was a fun celebration of it. Following are some memories of the party
• Conquerors opened with a couple of psych jams, including one with a funky reggae bounce to it. That sounds like a bad look on paper, but they killed it. We did not give out an award for Most Progressive Fashion Aesthetic, but Conquerors would have won it. There is some serious style boundary-pushing going on in that band. I would look like an unemployed dad circa 1992 in some of those outfits, but they all look like rock stars. Respect.
• Apparently, there's something of a feud going on between 96.5 the Buzz and Alice 102.1? I don't have a functioning radio in my car — my car situation grows more hopelessly bleak with the passing of each day — but as it has been told to me, some Buzz people tore down some Alice banners at a fundraising event a few months ago. At the Awards show, I saw somebody run onstage and tear down an Alice banner. (Alice was a sponsor of the show.) That didn't seem very nice to me, so I went backstage to tell the stage manager. I was then informed that the vandalism was a comedy bit, a rehearsed part of the show. "Are you even paying attention to the show?" he asked me, shooing me down the hall. "Don't you have some other people to bother?"
• When Not a Planet won the Rock category, the three members were followed onstage by a gushing fan who held her hands to her mouth as if she had just touched a Beatle. "Who the fuck is that?" I said. Nobody knew. I wondered if she, too, was a comedy bit, but I was too scared to ask.
• There was a brief appearance by the Royals' "Fountain Lady." I'm pretty sure she introduced the Punk nominees, although she was slurring so badly, it was hard to know for certain.
• All the presenters other than me did a great job: Paul Chandler of Alice 102; Steve Tulipana and Shawn Sherrill of RecordBar; Tim and Dallas Gutschenritter of the Riot Room; Michael Mackie and Michelle Davidson of Kansas City Live; and elder statesmen Jim Suptic and Ryan Pope of the Get Up Kids.
• Grand Marquis' hot jazz is as hot as ever, 15 years into the band's existence. It was cool to have such a seasoned local band perform a couple of numbers in the middle of the show.
• Cherokee Rock Rifle went on last and blew the roof off the place with a cover of "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor. The song was so torqued, Melin stormed the stage and accompanied the band with some impromptu air-guitar stylings. The dude just can't help himself. The band was rightly awarded a standing ovation when it was all through. Related: For next year's awards show, we are planning a re-creation of the James Brown-Carl Weathers performance of "Living in America" from Rocky IV. Hope to see everybody there next August!