News & Insights 26 April 2008

And the winner is…

The Lightyears at the Indy Awards 2008Last night we hit the INDY Awards Gala Ceremony at the Forum in Kentish Town. A couple of months ago we found out we’d been nominated for a second year in a row and a few weeks after that were informed we’d made it to the final short-list of four in the BEST POP ACT category.

As you’re probably aware, we won an INDY Award last year. We were on tour in the USA at the time and received the news sitting in Starbucks on 5th Avenue in New York. This makes for a great story but it did mean we missed out on a lot of free champagne and the chance to do the whole “Well, we’d never have got here without God, our mums, the Salvation Army” thing live onstage. Would the INDYs honour us two years in a row? We were all pretty convinced that was unlikely but no one wanted to pass up the opportunity to strut around the Forum eyeing up the other indie bands and feeling smug so we gathered together a bit of an entourage, tarted ourselves up and headed Camden-wards.

Incidentally, it’s also worth mentioning at this stage that Skinny – a mate of ours who picked up the award on our behalf last year – promised us a couple of days ago that he’d buy us a trophy cabinet if we won again. For, my friends, one award is a fluke – but two is a collection.   

We had VIP tickets. Which was pretty cool. At least, it was until we arrived. Thing is, any band who’d been nominated had been given VIP tickets – and with about 50 bands nominated, each with an average of four members, you’re looking at a truck-load of VIPs. Kinda dilutes the glamour when you have to queue up on the street with 200 other people. This would never happen to Angelina Jolie. 

It wasn’t until we’d been waiting for at least half an hour that the doors opened and the doormen began letting a stream of people in. Oddly, though, this particular stream of people hadn’t been in the original queue and seemed to be bypassing the system. Predictably, Tony took exception. He stopped one of them as they passed.

“Sorry,” he said with a shrug of the shoulders, “there’s a queue. Are you VIPs?”

“No mate. We haven’t got tickets yet.”

And with that he disappeared inside the Forum! A quick confab with the bouncers confirmed that, yes – they were letting the punters in BEFORE the VIPs. Finally, after years of hard graft, we manage to climb the echelons of society to a level sufficient to be considered “Very Important” and the plebs were getting in first. Maybe they were making them scrub the carpets in preparation for our arrival.

Anyhow, once we finally got inside the pace quickened somewhat. We had our photo taken in front of the “INDY Music Awards – Highlighting the very best in emerging live music” display and were immediately whisked away by a collection of immaculately-coiffeured girls in short skirts. Turns out the girls were chaperoning bands for the evening, guiding them through the confusing maze that is the Forum and attempting to make sure everyone was in the right place at the right time. Kind of like Oompa Loompas. But sexier. 

Presenting Best Female Solo Artist at the IndysWhen you watch the BRITs or the Oscars on TV, you probably just assume it’s all champagne fountains and cavorting celebrities – but there’s all kinds of complicated shenanigans going on backstage. We’d been cornered early because we’d been asked to present the first award – an honour in itself, given that the other presenters included Mike Rutherford (founder member of Genesis), Fergal Sharkey of The Undertones and Chas Smash from Madness. Everything had to run smoothly because the whole ceremony was going out on Sky TV. 

So, we were backstage, waiting for Starsailor to finish the opening set so we could get on and kick the proceedings off. We’d planned our attack pretty meticulously. I would say “And the nominations for Best Female Solo Act are…” and Tony would say “And the winner is…”. This left George with the job of kissing the girl, flashing his winning smile and posing for the TV cameras. Which he was pretty happy with. 

Starsailor finished, the MC (Radio 2’s Andy Davies) appeared and gave a little speech and our chaperone led us onstage to present the first award. We delivered our lines with aplomb; cue tumultuous applause from the winner’s assembled fans. It was just a little unfortunate that the winner herself – Dawn Kinnard – seemed to be AWAL.

A minute passed. And a minute, take it from me, is a long time when you’re standing on stage at the Forum in front of a few thousand people and nothing’s really happening. There was only so much ad-libbing the MC could do and in fact we did consider busting out an a capella number to keep everyone amused. Perhaps it’s best that we decided against that. Still, a good three or four minutes had passed by the time Dawn finally appeared,  which kinda took the edge off her big moment. She looked like she wasn’t really entirely sure why she was there. You could have handed her a courgette and she probably would have been none the wiser.  

The Lightyears with Danny at the Indy Awards 2008And so, with our big moment over, we hit the free bar (which, might I add, had been significantly depleted during our absence – Tony did try pulling the “We’ve been onstage! We should be entitled to extra free booze!” card but it was met with vacant stares from the barstaff). About an hour later, proceedings reached the BEST POP ACT category. We weren’t expecting to be given the same award two years in a row but, I have to admit, I still felt a little flutter when they announced our name and Emily came on over the massive speaker system. Miss Pink Shoes, who we’d played with a few weeks previously at the Clapham Grand, won the award, and gave perhaps the best speech of the whole night. I can’t really remember what they said but I specifically recall being very impressed at the time. Apart from anything else, it was short – which, if you ask me, is a feature that ought to be common to all acceptance speeches (I hope you’re taking notes, Halle Berry). Anyway, they’re great guys and they really deserved it. Shame we never got that trophy cabinet though. Heck, there’s always the Ivor Novellos.

It was a great night all in all. The Buzzcocks headlined although, by the time they hit the stage, we were out on the streets of Kentish Town being entertained by a couple of INDY-nominated human beatboxers who had come all the way from Newcastle for the ceremony, which I thought was pretty impressive. Wish I could remember their name because they were dropping some well tight beats. That’s right. Well tight beats. I know the lingo. I’m urban.

Later peeps.

Chris Lightyear

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