MTV took over the Austin Music Hall last night for a live broadcast of the Woodie Awards, mtvU’s annual award show honoring the best of college radio. University Of Miami’s WVUM took home the award for best college radio station (“College Radio Woodie”), and Matt And Kim, a group that was still playing half-full, midday shows at last year’s SXSW, was awarded the Woodie for best live performance (“Performing Woodie”).
Community’s Donald Glover owned the hosting position, while a hundred kids jumped and screamed in front of the stage, some older businessmen checked their BlackBerrys in the mezzanine and I, taking a break from street tacos and free Schlitz, found myself once again posted next to an open bar in the back. Like every award show, the musical performances reigned supreme, easily upstaging any awkward presenter jokes or anticlimactic trophy handouts. Foo Fighters opened the ceremony playing a blistering, head-banging new track. Following the band were Two Door Cinema Club, Wiz Khalifa and Sleigh Bells, with Odd Future finishing off the show.
Sleigh Bells owned the stage, abandoning its usual drum machine backing track for a marching-band-style drum line. The group’s live shows have received lukewarm reviews in the past, but this live rhythm section put the duo on a whole new level. Odd Future got super weird with it as expected, equipped with life-sized chickens and an onstage little person. The rascally hip-hop ensemble growled through “Yonkers/Sandwitches” (not a spelling mistake) and was eventually dragged off of the stage by the same security guards I’d seen outside, hitting on every girl who walked past, failing and then high-fiving each other.
It’s totally weird being in the crowd for one of these events. The audience members around me were extremely underwhelmed. Remember, award shows like this are not catered to the audience directly in front of the stage. Everything happening is meant to entertain the viewer at home, watching on TV. The bands don’t set the levels on their instruments to the settings that best fill out the room, they set them to the place that will be best picked up by the mics connected to the cameras. Also, everyone was told that the Black Keys were taking the stage at some point. This turned out to be just a rumor, leaving a lot of people in the mezzanine with a bad taste in their mouths after the show ended.
All the same, it was very cool to see MTV give some attention to the college radio world, even though I still have no idea why it’s called the Woodies.