The Liberty Hotel, the cheekily named swank locale and onetime prison, has seen its share of characters both high and low saunter through its stout stone walls over the years. Last night at the 24th edition of the Boston Music Awards, it may have played host to its most interesting rogues’ gallery yet.
For the second year in a row, the sounds of Boston’s best home-grown talent, performing in multiple rooms in the hotel, echoed throughout the towering rotunda. It made for an eclectic din and proved, if nothing else, that Boston’s music scene is as diverse and vibrant as ever.
A handful of awards seemed a foregone conclusion - Dropkick Murphys’ reeling in both Artist and Live Artist of the Year showed the inherent conflict in a show like this - you want to include the newer talent, but you need a few bigger names for the draw.
Other awards were doled out to the deserving live acts that turned the venue into the best one-night showcase of Boston music the city has seen all year. Electronic Artist winners Freezepop were icy cool and dance-friendly in their synth-pop dance party, while Rock Artist winners Viva Viva proved, yet again, they’re good enough at what they do that they make me appreciate a genre I couldn’t care less about otherwise, with a gritty blues-based bar-rock set.
Fellow Rock Artist nominees MMOSS were an eye-opening highlight, with a set of trippy grooves that reached back to early Krautrock for its hypnotic flute-led vibe. Elsewhere, Pop Rock nominees the Wandas won over the crowd with a jangly Americana tunefulness, while Video of the Year nominees Bodega Girls (playing as the Bodega Sluts) tore through a Boston-indie-rock-hits-of-the-past set of palpable, sweaty rock energy.
The act that stole the show was Female Vocalist nominee Shea Rose, who came mostly unbeknownst to me, and proved herself the Boston artist most likely to make an impact on the national stage this year with a soulful set of hip-hop inflected funk and rock, and a crack band that showcased the vibrant singer’s star power.