The inaugural 89x Homie Awards was a rousing success and celebration of the Michigan Music scene. The event featured live music from Battlecross, Shapes & Colors, IAmDynamite, and Ghosts Of August.
The evening was broken into a few segments starting with a pre-show panel of industry experts. Three 30-minute sets by the supporting bands followed. Next up were the actual 89x Homie Awards ceremony. The evening ended with a 60-minute, high-energy set by the thrash metal act, Battlecross.
The pre-show panel of industry experts offered insight and advice to people interested in breaking into the music industry. Chad Nicefield from The Crofoot hosted the panel. Nicefield also the lead singer for the band Wilson. The panelists included:
- Matt Dalton â€“ Metro 37 Studios
- Kevin Nixon â€“ DIME
- Josh Hanford – Photographer and Media Maker
- Nate Dorough – Fusion Shows
- Justin Pidruzny – The Crofoot Presents
- Jon Diener – The Swellers, Baggage, Freelance Journalist
- Ramona Caldwell – Atomic Music Group
- Nick Trentacost â€“ AEG, Uppercut Management
- Rick Smith – Wild Justice Management
Chad presented a topic, thought, or question that fit each speaker on the panel. The initial response came from the expert in that area, but other panelists provided their insights as well. Some of the advice included:
- Making a good impression; you may only have 30 seconds to make an impact
- Focus less on the production and more on connecting with the audience
- Be yourself; donâ€™t mimic other artists
- Don’t try to fake it or overdo it
- Keep it fresh
- Put energy into your image â€“ “look cool”
- Know your strengths and weaknesses
- Evolve your sound over time
- Practice as it takes 10,000 hours on average to master your craft
- Define your measure of success
- Meet people at or outside shows by hustling hard and networking
- Be available
- Build a following locally before trying to make it nationally
- Never bad mouth anyone; donâ€™t make enemies
- Don’t annoy people by over communicating with them
- Do your homework and build a list of questions for potential producers and agents
- Don’t be afraid to say “no”
- Be the best you can be at every gig even if only 18 people show up
At the conclusion of the panel event, the panelists mingled with the attendees and engaged in conversation. The amount of knowledge these panelists shared will be invaluable to anyone looking to get started in the industry or further their career.
After a short break to clear the chairs, the first of the eveningâ€™s performers took the stage. Ghosts of August have rocked the local area for several years and tonight was no exception. They kicked off their set with “Not Dead Yet” followed by their radio-friendly single, “Disease,” from a few years ago and their latest single, “Run and Hide.” The rest of the set included “Said and Done,” “Lived It Up,” “Scars,” and a killer cover of Stone Temple Pilots, “Dead and Bloated,” complete with megaphone. Ghosts of August consists of Dave Holowchak (vocals), Steven Leemgraven (guitar), Paul Delmotte (guitar), Ronald Thieleman (bass), and Kenny Lee (drums).
Next up was Shapes and Colors from the Detroit area. The band played a set of alternative rock mixed with some heavier riffs. The crowd was appreciating their sound and the band responded by interacting with fans along the front the stage. Shapes and Colors band members include Travis Bobier (guitar and vocals), Mike Morris (guitar), Kyle Labuta (guitar), Bob Allers on (bass), and Scott Solomon (drums).
The final support band, IAmDynamite, took the stage following Shapes and Colors. IAMDynamite is a band to watch out for in the future. If this show is any indication, they will build a fanbase quickly. The band had the audience moving and singing along, including a very energetic group of people in front of drummer, Chris Phillips, who was laying down a killer beat. They gave a standout performance on “Where Will We Go” from their 2012 release, Supermegafantastic. IAmDynamite also played songs from their current release including “In The Summer.” Even though only a two-piece band, their sound was much larger. IAmDyanamite hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan and also includes Christopher Martin on guitar and vocals.
Following the three supporting bands, the awards portion of the evening began. 89x radio on-air personality, Phil Kukawinski (PK), hosted the awards. This event is based on the PK’s 89x Homeboy Show. The award categories and winners were as follows:
- Most Spun Homeboy Show Tune for 2015 â€“ â€œIn the Summerâ€ by IAmDynamite
- Best Video of 2015 â€“ â€œCrossroadsâ€ by I Prevail
- Best Record of 2015 â€“ â€œSmall Victoriesâ€ by Flint Eastwood
- Best Live Band of 2015 â€“ Wilson
- Beacon Award 2015 â€“ Joe Gall for awareness of Detroit Culture
- Peopleâ€™s Choice Award â€“ Against the Grain
The evening was topped off by an hour-long set of metal from Canton, the Michigan-based thrash band, Battlecross. The band exploded out of the gates with the lead-off song, “Force Fed Lies,” and did not let up until the set was complete with the song “Hostile.” Bass player Don Slater and guitarist Tony Asta like to play up to the fans, striking poses near the front of the stage. Tony along with guitarist, Hiran Deraniyagala, played some blistering leads that kept the energy high while drummer Alex Bent laid down a rapid-fire beat. Lead singer Kyle “Gumby” Gunter was all over the stage and even threw in some humor in between songs.
The rest of the set consisted of “Not Your Slave,” “Bound by Fear,” “Never Coming Back,” “Absence,” “Spoiled,” “Deception,” “The Path,” “Beast,” “Misery,” “Flesh & Bone,” and “Push Pull Destroy.”
The Battlecross fanbase has grown nationwide through endless touring, as well as airplay on SiriusXM channel, Liquid Metal. They are becoming a major player in the metal ranks.
Based on fan comments, it is clear those in attendance had a great time. For the price of the $10 admission, guests enjoyed a great pre-show panel of experts offering invaluable advice, performances from four great local bands, and the first 89x Homie Awards ceremony. Hopefully, this event will become an annual event that continues to grow each year.
Article and photos by guest contributor Gary Pahlow.