The NME Shockwaves (very important that bit) Awards came into my life not by design but by accident. Having found myself in the relatively rare situation of being awake late on a Friday night (parent of a certain age and all that) and discovering that -Later’ was full of jazz and a worryingly poor Vampire Weekend, a brief bout of channel surfing brought us to Channel 4 and the chance to witness the cream of the UK indie scene all in the same room. Nothing, not even the prospect of actually reading a copy of NME these days, could quite prepare you for the horror of the smug, backslapping, too cool for school nightmare that was to follow.
As someone who used to religiously read the publication in my youth, NME still has a place in my heart but this was simply proof what a pastiche the scene that it covers has become. It wasn’t just that every award went to an identikit white boys with guitar indie band, virtually every nominee for every single award fell into that category. For all the in-crowd’s sniping and bitching about mainstream award ceremonies, the NME Awards proved themselves to be just as conservative, if not more so. Despite the constant attempts at radical, rebel rousing behaviour, they were pretty dull too – are we really supposed to care about a spat between, wait for it, The Enemy and The Horrors? The performances weren’t up to much either, apart from Gallows and Lethal Bizzle rousing collaboration which the Camden brigade seemed find a little too real to deal with. Even dear old Billy Bragg, the one beacon of light in the whole sorry affair, had his moment ruined by Kate Nash’s out of tune warbling. By then I’d had enough.
To be honest a world where the Cribs are held up as cutting edge heroes is not a world I want to be part of. Perhaps this is the point, that I am just too old and out of touch to get it. Except that I don’t think I am. I think that the real point is that this section of the UK music media and industry has become so self obsessed that it has lost sight of what is going on outside of its own postcode. Thankfully, Ireland doesn’t seem to have fallen into a similar trap. There just aren’t enough acts of one particular type for this scene culture to take hold, nor is there an overriding desire amongst the domestic music press to create one. Perhaps that is why the attempted NMEisation of Ireland fell so short, that it is a nation of musical difference rather than a homogenised pastiche of what has happened over and over before.
Photos from NME Awards page.