Only New London could so perfectly combine very classy and very rowdy into the perfect storm that is the Whalie Awards. The event was just elegant and refined enough, with more than enough raucous and unruly behavior on stage and in the audience to ensure that no one took themselves too seriously.
The 2nd Annual Whalies held in the, produced by Sean Murray, Rich Martin and the New London Music Festival, is a fun event for all that brings together musicians from scenes that would not normally cross paths. The event also aims to expose the public to a broad spectrum of what the New London music scene has to offer.
Like last year, the voting for the peoples choice awards was hosted by Wailingcity.com and opened up on the same night at the site relaunch on March 19th. Webmaster Joseph Thiebault and founder/site administrator Meghan Killimade both agreed that the voting went a lot smoother this year. Site hits were up by 50 percent and they smashed last year’s vote totals by almost 2,000, ending up with nearly 6,500 votes.
The night kicked off at 6 p.m. with a red carpet walk where the bands and their friends had an opportunity to pose and take pictures on the carpet and in front of the Whalies 2011 backdrop. Among the New London stars striking poses and having fun on the carpet was Matt Gouette (six Nominations) who tells Patch “It feels wonderful to be here…I feel very rock and roll right now.”
Responsible for the backdrop and stage design were Chad Cocilo and Valerie Goergen, who only had a week’s notice to get everything done and did a spectacular job.
“We spent about six hours working on it last night and we were so stressed out,” says Cocilo “but it’s so gratifying to see it all together…like magic.” It meant a lot to both Valerie and Chad to be trusted with the stage design. “We're so proud to be part of this event and so proud of Sean,” says Goergen.
After the red carpet fun, the show started shortly after 7 p.m. with a rap performance by Camacho and a brief opening address by the show’s host Sean Murray. “Welcome to the 2nd Whalie Awards…we’re so thrilled with the turnout, it’s like a sea of people,” says Murray.
There was a sea of people indeed. After the roughly one hundred seats quickly filled, there was soon standing room only all the way to the entrance. Of the hundreds that showed up, most of them stayed until the end of the three hour long program, seat or no seat.
It wasn’t just the anticipation that their favorite band might walk away a winner that kept everyone around so long but the promise of some killer performances by New London bands such as Estrogen & Tonic and Flowers & Kain. Other highly anticipated performances were the debut of Anchors of ’76 and Low Beam’s first live performance in 4 years.
“We’ve been playing in the studio a bunch but it feels great to play live again,” says Martin.
Many of the performances were engaging enough to get everyone out of their seats and jumping up and down in front of the stage. There was even a small mosh pit that formed during Sadplant’s performance.
On stage antics by the presenter’s and New London’s personalities were a big part of this year’s show including a bit of fun improve between “the very eccentric, burnout, musician from outer space” Bobby Crash and a very silent “Puckey the Whale.” Much to the amusement of the audience Crash spoke in what he perceived to be Puckeys voice and had a faux fight with him over the card with the winner’s name.
“We were just having fun up there,” Crash tells Patch “but really what did you expect when you put me up there with a whale,” he says with a chuckle.
At the end of the night some of the biggest winners included Matt Gouette with three awards, including solo Album of the Year, and New London newcomer Erik Lamb with two awards. “I moved here just under a year ago and everyone’s been really cool and really accepting,” says Lamb “I went to the Whalies last year and it’s really outdone itself.”
The winner of the big award “album of the year” was none other than Above Below for “2 sides.” ”The basic tracks were live” says Hollis Dunlap “and the recording was done in one day.” Dunlap then spent about 2 months working on the album after that and say’s there are lot’s of subtleties to listen for in the new album.
At the end of the night everyone had a great time and was primed for a night of celebration out on the town. “It’s been great to see it flourish as much as it has in one year,” a very tired Sean Murray tells Patch, “but I’m so done with the Whalies now. Well at least until next year”
Winners of the Top Awards Included:
BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Camacho
SOLO ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Matt Gouette "Emeline at the Moontower"
INDIE/PUNK/ALTERNATIVE ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Sodium Lights "Transtulit"
URBAN ALBUM/MIXTAPE OF THE YEAR: Erik Lamb "Shoot Everything"
RECORD OF THE YEAR: Gone For Good "The Bright Lights"
SONG OF THE YEAR: Gramz "I Have Arrived"
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Above/Below "Two Sides"
For More information on the Whalies and winners of more awards please visit Wailingcity.com “New London’s Online Zine ‘to promote, document, inform and support’”