City Slang: Battlecross rules the DMAs

I will only say nice things. I will only say nice things. I will only say nice things.

At the 2014 Detroit Music Awards, honors were dealt out to Jill Jack, the Infatuations, Carolyn Striho, Funky D Records, Sean from Cybertrybe

you know the drill.

Nice things. Nice things. Nice things.

Most of the performances were outstanding, while some were interesting. Mark Pazman’s “Super Session,” a blues jam featuring talented dudes like Paul Randolph and Bobby Murray, was smooth, while Olivia Millerschin, the winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, delighted with some very sweet, heartfelt singer-songwriter fare.

A performance by Psychopathic Records band Legz Diamond & the Purple Gang (introduced by ICP) was wonderfully ridiculous (“Tommy Guns” and all), while local jazz man Charles Boles celebrated his “Distinguished Achievement Award” with a lively jazz tune.

Marshall Crenshaw, another “Distinguished Achievement Award” winner, played a low-key, three-song acoustic set that ended with “Someday, Someway,” and rapper Boldy James didn’t let an uninterested crowd get him down, driving through a hard mini-set. A posthumous “Distinguished Achievement Award” for Grande Ballroom poster artist Gary Grimshaw, collected by his wife, Laura Grimshaw, was a nice touch.

OK – two non-nice things. First of all, the “Light Up Detroit” tune, billed as Detroit’s “We Are the World,” was cringe-worthy. Forgivable because of the good intentions, and strongly performed by the musicians involved, but ultimately syrupy and ill-advised.

Also, reality TV star Jeff Gutt was frankly abysmal. Like Bon Jovi without the big anthems or Creed with extra “GRRRnnngghhh” angst faces, the guy looked every bit the reality TV star. It’s a shame, because a dart could have been thrown at the Blowout poster, and a better act than Gutt would have been selected. But we get it – Gutt is a Detroiter who represented Detroit on TV and fared fairly well. We get it. But jeez, it wasn’t easy to sit through.

Thank the Lord for Battlecross, a band with some balls who really shook up the pomp of the ceremony. These are the guys who planted a turd in the punchbowl, and it was a delight to watch. People started leaving, others looked on in sheer terror. The metal titans were only allowed to play one song, but in a few short minutes they proved themselves to be the highlight of the entire night.

I really enjoy attending the DMAs. The show is always fascinating; I always get to see an artist of note that I’ve never seen before. I’m aware of the fact that, for years now, I’ve said that the “awards” part of the DMAs needs a rethink, and that still holds. Same winners, year after year. But the organizers, who are good people attempting to do a good thing, put on a hell of a show again.