From outstanding and one-of-a-kind performances to petty drama, the 2015 Alternative Press Music Awards was a night to remember in Cleveland, Ohio. The event was hosted by All Time Low’s hilarious frontmen Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat. This was only the second award show designed by Alternative Press magazine. The night was made unforgettable by incredible performances from Sum 41, New Found Glory, Weezer, Panic! at the Disco and many more. The bands were also accompanied by the Contemporary Youth Orchestra which added a classy vibe to the arena.
All Time Low were the first to walk on stage and start the show. One of my favorite performances of the night, the band combined some of rock’s most popular songs from “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones to Green Day’s “Basket Case” and finished with a song of their own “Something’s Gotta Give.” ATL even dared to cover more challenging songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “What’s My Age Again” (which drummer Rian Dawson admitted he missed a beat or two). Everyone in the Quicken Loans Arena were on their feet and singing along to the hailed classics.
Alternative Press couldn’t have chosen better hosts than Alex and Jack to follow Mark Hoppus at the first APMAs. One of the benefits of sitting where I was (second row from the stage) was that I could see the teleprompter which meant I got to observe how many jokes were scripted and how many were ad lib. It’s safe to say that every joke that made the audience really laugh were provided by Alex and Jack on the spot because their charm is not the kind of charm that can be scripted. Bandmates Rian and Zack carried the two hosts on stage to announce the “Hot Topic Oscars” as they nicknamed the event. The night definitely would not have been the same without the witty comments from Jack and Alex (and a couple of comments from Mark Hoppus via webcam).
Speaking of witty comments, would it be an award show without drama? Of course not! As Metro Station came on stage to announce an award, Trace Cyrus wanted to address a certain beef he thought his band had with another. Mason Musso quietly stood aside as Cyrus called out All Time Low for being disrespectful and always “talking shit” about Metro Station. Cyrus clarified on his Twitter that he was referring to a comment ATL made in 2009 which was clearly a joke (for anyone that knows ATL, all they do is joke around and their humor shouldn’t be taken literally). The drama did not end there. Alternative Press confirmed that this little scuffle almost got physical between Alex and Cyrus. When the hosts returned to the stage, Alex commented that he just had “the most beautiful conversation with Trace Cyrus” while Jack laughed beside him. The two clarified that they were just about having a good time and jokingly making fun of everyone – including themselves. I wasn’t the only one deeply disappointed in Cyrus (especially as a fan of his band) – the people sitting around me were also expressing their displeasure. Even Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco gave a shout out to Cyrus and dedicated “Bohemian Rhapsody” to him. What really ticked me off was a video Cyrus posted on Instagram complaining that Metro Station has no fans while he rolled around in cash.
The performance everyone was left talking about after the show – and, personally, my favorite part of the night – was by none other than the legendary Sum 41. Deryck Whibley was looking happy and healthy a year later after being hospitalized and surviving a near-death experience with alcoholism. The timeless band began their spotlight on stage with “Still Waiting” which flowed neatly into the popular song that everyone knows (even if they don’t know they know) “In Too Deep.” Whibley introduced former member Dave “Brown Sound” Baksh before starting the Beastie Boys-esque punk rock anthem “Fat Lip.” Even though it’s been almost ten years since “Brown Sound” left the band, he had no problem falling back into the groove of the band. There was one more special guest to join Sum 41 on stage that night – DMC. Whibley ditched his guitar to join the 80s/90s rapper in covering Run-DMC’s “Mary Mary” and “King of Rock.” With Sum’s new album quickly approaching, I’m crossing my fingers that this means more live shows from this unbeatable band.
The APMAs revisited the 90s as Weezer took the stage to close the night with performances of their beloved songs. “El Scorcho” was a little slow to end the night, which is why I appreciate that they added other hits like “Buddy Holly” and a song from their new album, “Go Away” featuring Mariel Loveland of Candy Hearts. The new song still carries the recognizable Weezer vibes, and I’m predicting that fans will enjoy the new album. Catchy and a great sing-along, Weezer finished their set with “Buddy Holly.” For some reason I can’t understand, many people in the audience were already leaving in the middle of the performance. How many chances will they have to see Weezer live? It baffles me. I don’t quite understand why Weezer was considered the headliner for the night, because their performance was a little mellow to be considered a finale, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
While All Time Low, Sum 41, and Weezer did an incredible job, there were obviously other performers who wow’ed the crowd. Pierce the Veil, Panic! at the Disco, New Found Glory with Hayley Williams, Taking Back Sunday, Simple Plan, Halestorm, Pvris, Black Veil Brides, Motionless in White and other guest appearances all played a part in making the night special. Pierce the Veil played their new single, “The Divine Zero,” from their upcoming album. New Found Glory released the music video for “Vicious Love” before sharing it on stage with Ms. Williams. Halestorm did a remarkable and unforgettable cover of “Hunger Strike” by Temple of the Dog with Slipknot’s Corey Taylor. Panic! amazed the crowd with their new song “Halleljuah” and a cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Brendon Urie’s voice definitely sent shivers down everyone’s spines). (Videos of the performances can be found on Alternative Press’s Youtube.)
Nominated by Alternative Press and voted for by the fans, many bands went home happy with a Skully in their hands. All Time Low came out with the most wins of the night including Best Bassist (Zack Merrick), Best Drummer (Rian Dawson) and Most Dedicated Fans (Hustlers). The Icon Award went to X, a band formed in the late 70s, and Rob Zombie walked away with the Vanguard Award. After reading some reviews of the outcome of the award show, I noticed that many people weren’t pleased with the winners and they were calling out the APMAs to be a “popularity contest.” Well, yes. It is a popularity contest. Those with the most fans willing to vote for them deserve an award in these situations. I like to think that the purpose of the APMAs is to be a place for all these artists to come together, possibly collab on stage, and have fun.
(A complete list of the winners can be found here.)
From the red carpet event to Alex and Jack’s farewell to the audience, I enjoyed every minute of the APMAs. I can’t name another event where I could have seen DMC perform with Sum 41 or Trace Cyrus and Alex Gaskarth get into a kerfuffle. All I know is that I want to attend every APMA from here on out. Hopefully one day, I’ll be attending as an employee of Alternative Press. Fingers crossed.
Thanks for reading,
Aside from the actual award show itself, I also attended the red carpet event and a special Alternative Press lecture series on songwriting that featured Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), Dan Campbell (The Wonder Years), Buddy Nielsen (Senses Fail) and Cody Carson (Set It Off). Besides one of the songwriters calling out blink-182 and inaccurately quoting a song, the lecture was entertaining. It was inspiring to find out what goes on in the minds of songwriters and how an album comes together. The red carpet was an experience I could never forget. I got pictures with Jack Barakat (All Time Low – the selfie got mentioned in AltPress’s 10 Best Selfies From The APMAS), Cody Carson (Set It Off), Derek Sanders (Mayday Parade) and Nick Major (AltPress TV correspondent). I also got to say hey to Rian Dawson, Black Veil Brides, Sum 41 and other bands as they walked down the red carpet. I was blown away by how many of my favorite artists I got to see in such a short amount of time. A few days later I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which currently has an Alternative Press exhibit. My trip to Cleveland could not have been any better.
**Photos courtesy of Grizzlee Martin on AltPress’s Twitter