Brett Barest on Upstate Music: Upstate Music Awards & Big Weekend Shows Ahead

  • By cvbizz
  • January 5, 2020
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Upstate South Carolina Live Music: Phat Lip

A few weeks ago I used this space to urge you to go forth and submit your nominations for the inaugural Upstate Music Awards. Once I had submitted mine, I could not wait to see who the actual nominees would be and on New Year’s Day I got my wish when the official contestants were announced. Of all the surprises that I was prepared for upon seeing the list, I was not expecting the thing that shocked me the most – the sheer number of bands in the running for awards.

Now, I have been writing about the local music scene once a week for what will be five years this March. I have spent a ton of time studying iOnGreenville’s music calendar, sifting through Facebook events for our assorted local venues, and trying to consume as much music (both recorded and live) as possible. I feel that this experience has generally endowed me with a  pretty good feel for the local music scene but, if I am being perfectly honest, the Upstate Music Awards has me feeling a bit stupid right now and I am perfectly fine with that.

If you had asked me a week ago to guess how many Upstate bands released new music in 2019, I would have guessed a dozen or so, 20 tops. So, imagine my surprise when I opened up the Upstate Music Awards website to see that there are 21 nominees for Best Album and 23 for Best EP – that’s 44 releases of new music in 2019 alone. On top of that, there are 48 nominees for Best Single, 25 for Best New Artist, and 10 for Best Collaboration (a category for which I would have struggled to name more than one or two).

All of this is to say that no matter how in tune you are with the local music scene, the landscape is far broader than perhaps we give it credit for. Kudos to the minds behind the Upstate Music Awards for shining a spotlight on that.

With a talent pool of nominees this deep, making my selections proved challenging. Even for categories where I felt like I knew exactly who would get my vote, I still had to familiarize myself with other artists that were new to me. Fortunately, the website gives links to each band’s Soundcloud or Spotify playlists wherever possible for easy consumption. This was unexpectedly my favorite part of the whole process – sitting down and listening to brand-new-to-me artists that call the Upstate home. In some cases I held with my original vote but in others I was swayed by a new sound, something I totally did not expect when I logged in to vote. I will not tell you who I voted for in any particular category but I can say that there are a lot of tough decisions to make on this ballot.


Weekend Shows

As always, there are plenty of interesting shows all over town in the weekend ahead but a few in particular have caught my attention. Friday night sees the 2nd Annual Decorate the Silence show return to Birds Fly South. This is an evening of metal and grindcore, something you rarely find at a local brewery. This is an 18 and up show but those of legal drinking age will want to get their hands on the re-release of Sometimes Goats, the brewery’s award winning Dopplebock arriving in cans that same day.

On Saturday, I am beyond stoked to see Asheville’s Natural Born Leaders returning to The Radio Room with local favorite Phat Lip. NBL is one of those bands that you just have to see live as they blur the lines between rock, hip-hop, funk, and so many other genres. When I first saw them at The Radio Room last October, I knew they were going to be a fun show but they blew every expectation out of the water with a simply incredible performance. For her part, Kelly Jo’s Phat Lip is nominated for a couple of those aforementioned Upstate Music Awards so this is great opportunity to see just what they are all about (Spoiler Alert: They are all about some damn good music with a Latin flare).

So, go find and vote on some new music with the Upstate Music Awards, find out who is playing where with your iOnGreenville app, and get out and enjoy a show this fine weekend. Have a great time and I will see you back here next week.

Upstate Live Music Calendar