All photos by Elizabeth Sharpe // IG : @ummagummamumma
*** Please always credit our photographers when sharing their work on social media – do not edit their images, and ask permission first before using their images for any other purposes. ***
Since March last year, the music industry has been completely turned on its head. With the instability of lockdown laws and their affect on live music, many of us have not only lost a large chuck of our income, but our connection to the community. So when I walked into HOTA, you can imagine my shock seeing that many people all in the one place. Surrounded by familiar faces—whether they were old friends or just people I admire—it was refreshing to see so much talent together. And don’t even get me started on the outfits!
I attended my first music awards about 3 years ago, back when when it was hosted in the heart of Surfers Paradise during the Surfers Paradise Live festival. I was interested to see how the new venue and daytime ceremony would pan out. I was not disappointed. It was strange to see the room I had performed in so many school Eisteddfods transformed into a glitzy ceremony, but a welcome change nonetheless. I was lucky enough to be seated right in the middle of the room; a perfect view of the stage.
The day began with a welcome to country before Mass Sky Raid opened the ceremony. Atmospheric sounds came in before the liveliness of the drums and instrumentation. Their vocalist stole the show, demonstrating the showmanship of a seasoned performer. The crowd was eager to dance, doing the best they could to groove while remaining seated. After they left the stage we were introduced to our hosts; Mo’s Desert Clubhouse owner Kimberley Ferguson and local artist/ Dracula’s Cabaret performer Tomi Gray (who just released an incredible EP). The pair’s had clear hosting chemistry, bouncing off of each other’s jokes and energy.
The first award of the day was for the ‘Musician of the Year’. From the unique styling’s of Cold Ghost’s Fletcher Babb to the talented instrumental abilities of Harry J Hart and Mitch King, it was a tough category. The award was presented to multi-instrumentalist Scott French, met with a huge response from the crowd. “It’s not really about who wins, it’s about us all coming together and looking after each other“. Next, the winner for ‘Song of the Year’ was announced. It was another tough choice, showcasing a range of genres from the pop stylings of DVNA and DENNIS.; the hard rock sounds of These Four Walls and the hip hop stylings of Jesswar and Saint Lane. Beckah Amani took the award thanks to her beautiful, empowering ballad STANDARDS. “This means a lot to me after the year we’ve had”.
The ‘Live Act of the Year’ category hosted even more talent, including Casey Barnes, Hussy Hicks and Karl S Williams, but went to local favourites (and a personal favourite of mine) Peach Fur. The boys were unprepared for the speech, thanking their parents for giving birth to them so they could be given the chance to win the award. Beckah Amani returned to the stage to play her winning single. She captivated the whole room, earning a standing ovation.
‘Artist of the Year’ was announced next, featuring opening act Mass Sky Raid and local legends Eliza and the Delusionals, but want to national (and international) star Casey Barnes. “It’s been a tough time for everyone in this room, but brighter times are coming”. Ferguson was scripted to leave the stage as the ‘Venue of the Year’ was announced. Luckily, Mo’s won, even more deservedly as that night the were hosting their 2nd birthday celebration! The winner of the Gold Coast Music Prize was announced next with the help of last year’s recipient, DENNIS.. Selve won the prize, announcing they were “totally unprepared” and stating “what does this prize even mean?”to the amusement of the crowd.
‘Breakout Artist of the Year’ was next to be announced; a category for artists who have tapped into new markets, extended their reach or reached global audiences. There were many deserving finalists including René Le Feuvre, Rave Radio and, again, Peach Fur. Jesswar won the prize, thanking “all the women in the room who are pretty much the glue to the industry” including the women who organised the event. She also shouted out the LGBTQ+ artists, the BIPOC community and all the marginalised groups and the artists contributing to their representation.
Dennis. performed next with an unreleased hit. I’ve seen her perform live a fair few times, but this single performance was definitely one of my favourite. The song was more emotive than her past bops; a pop ballad that was still danceable without compromising on the message of the track. With just a drummer to support her, she owned the stage, demonstrating her seasoned stage persona and performance ability. This lead into the ‘People’s Choice Award’ category, which only featured three artists: Euca, Talia Rose and Baltimore Gun Club. Euca, who hit the scene big time last year with her song Not Champagne, won the specially designed award; a small sculpture made by Swell artist Clayton Blake. “What the fuck? Woo!” she said immediately, demonstrating her excitement; “I’m going to shit myself I’m so nervous… this is going in my house, it’s going to match all of my furniture!”. “I’d like to thank the fuckwith I wrote all my songs about. You suuuck”.
For the video of the year announcement, host Kim swapped places with the cameraman in charge of the stream; filming the crowd as he stood at the podium with Tomi. With another diverse category featuring Selve, boWsER and Tijuana Cartel, Beckah Amani won this award for the visuals accompanying her song of the year STANDARDS. Now there was one last category left, ‘Release of the Year’, with Casey Barnes, DOOLIE, Jesswar and more up for the prize. Karl S Williams won for his album ‘Lifeblood’. The night closed with speeches by the event organisers Samantha Morris, Chloe Poppa and Amanda Gorman, announcing that we received “over 650 nominations” with more than 120 of them for song of the year; a tough year for the judging panel.
Karl S Williams closed the night, opening his set at the grand piano with his album’s closing track Never Let Me Go. He had the room completely enthralled; with flawless piano playing and his powerful vocals, no single person could take their eyes off of him. His band joined him for the next track, completely shifting the vibe from soft and emotional to upbeat blues/rock. The pant had very clearly been playing together for a number of years, demonstrating confidence and togetherness that you only find from seasoned performers. The room clapped along with the group, allowing for an interactive performance when we couldn’t dance. He finished the set again on the piano, stating that they should as they had managed to get one on the stage just for him.
The night ended with an after party mingle out on the HOTA lawn. It was amazing to see everybody get together, network and enjoy sharing in music and catching; a rarity during COVID times. I left with a sense of appreciation for my community and the incredible talent we’re surrounded by in our small, humble city.
Did you miss the event? You can watch the livestream HERE
With thanks to Gold Coast Music Awards