Mile High Makeout: Hugging It Out

As the dust settles from another Westword Music Showcase Awards ceremony, a whole crew of folks has begun kicking it back up. The final results were posted Thursday morning, just before 6 a.m., and by noon, thirteen different comments had been added. Some of the comments added to the celebratory air of the event, but several disgruntled and righteously indignant readers vented their spleen about Westword as a whole and the results specifically, stopping just short of implying that there’s some sort of conspiracy or cabal that tilts the awards in favor of certain acts. The same kind of dialogue happens every year, in spite of the fact that the results are always determined by reader votes.

One of the other elements of the Showcase that I’ve heard folks complain about is that the event turns music into a competitive sport, and that that is somehow antithetical to the spirit of rock/punk/hip-hop/metal/folk/country/your-genre-here. This is, of course, silly. If anything, the Westword Music Awards are the Special Olympics of music – everyone’s a winner.

I’m fascinated by the range of emotions that a simple event like this stirs in the community. In many ways, the whole point of the Westword Music Showcase is to raise awareness about ALL the amazing acts in our town – not just the winners. The awards shine a light on the whole scene. And the ensuing dialogue – even at its most imbecilic – serves a similar purpose. It gets folks engaged and thinking about all the bands and artists that are worthy of attention in our fertile valley.

But anyone who actually attended the awards ceremony knows that all the contention and complaining is pretty unimportant compared to what really goes on in the Mile High. There wasn’t even a whiff of negativity in the packed and partying Bluebird Theater on Wednesday night. In fact, you would have been hard pressed to find a dour or unsmiling face in the house. Sure, many of the ear-to-ear grins came under the influence of numerous free drinks and mouth-watering lamby joes from Jonesy’s EatBar, but still – you could have cut the buttery bonhomie with a warm knife.

After the awards ceremony, my date and I stumbled up the street for JINXED!, the open mike and DJ night at Rockbar. I picked up a hand drum and joined the jam briefly. As I played, I looked at the Swayback’s Eric Halborg on guitar to my left, and Adam Tymn – of VAUX and Ride the Boogie – on keys to my right. My own ear-to-ear grin was hard to miss. There was no competition – only camaraderie.

This is what it’s all about. Turn your attention away from the sexy award statuettes, the clamoring crowd at the bar and the occasional inebriated award presenter and here’s what you’ll see at the Westword Music Showcase Awards: kisses, handshakes, high fives, man-hugs and devil horns. In other words, it’s exactly the kind of slippery, slobbery love-in that you’d expect from the Denver music scene. You might even call it a Mile High Makeout. -- Eryc Eyl