For its 25th year, the annual Boston Music Awards extravaganza returned once again to the normally swanky environs of the Liberty Hotel on Sunday night, bringing a cross-section of the region’s emerging and venerable musical talent together under one roof.
The layout of the sprawling space, while engendering a few traffic jams, allowed for some 20 bands and DJs to perform in various function rooms throughout the course of the night in something like the hippest industry convention you can imagine.
One room found 1980s alt-rock sweepstakes contenders O Positive reunited before 1970s Boston garage heroes The Real Kids chugged through a set of no-frills punk, while across the rotunda synth-pop stars-in-the-making and Song of the Year nominees Young London thumped and fist-pumped through an electro-rush of hooks.
Earlier, New Artist and Hip Hop nominee Dutch ReBelle dashed through a set of aggressively nimble wordplay and creeping beats. Also, weirdly, car dealer magnate-cum rocker Ernie Boch Jr. (founder of the Music Drives Us charity, which the awards’ proceeds go to) arranged a set featuring members of Deep Purple and Stone Temple Pilots for some reason.
You might not expect much overlap in terms of fan-bases there, but that’s the beauty of the night.
While the awards themselves are the hook, and there weren’t too many unwelcome surprises in the big hardware recipients — superstars Karmin won Artist of the Year, earnest indie-rockers Mean Creek Album of the Year, affable frat-rapper Cam Meekins won New Artist, and hip hop hipsters Moe Pope & Rain for Hip Hop Artist — the chance to take a whirlwind time machine tour through this and year’s past musical classes is the real draw.
That theme was made more literal this time around, with contemporary acts performing alongside influential bands from the recent and distant past.
Singer-Songwriter of the Year and perennial Boston awards circuit stalwart Will Dailey performed a set of Boston classics from the likes of Morphine and Aerosmith for his I Heart Boston tribute.
Indie chamber-popsters and Song of the Year nominees Air Traffic Controller shared the stage with another beloved 1980s Boston icon, Robin Lane, of the Chartbusters fame, for a set rollickingly twangy affair, while retro-minded-country-folk-rockers Banditas tagged in 2000s standouts Mr. Airplane Man’s Margaret Garrett for some added garage-bluster, all of which amounted to what seems like a good award category for next year: best year in Boston music ever.
It would be a very hard call.