With the year officially over, it's about time we look back at the best and brightest in San Diego's music scene and dole out our 2018 SoundDiego Music Awards. Our highly scientific voting process (we simply ask our staff members and contributors) usually ends up with a few curveball winners, and more than one out-of-left-field nominee. Unlike some other award shows, we mostly keep our categories whittled down to the bare essentials and forgo the long-winded thank-you speeches completely. Ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu -- the winners of the 2018 SoundDiego Music Awards are...
Best Vanishing Act: The Verigolds. For real -- what happened? This psychedelic-pop/rock group was topping year-end best-of lists (including our own), winning San Diego Music Awards, playing music festivals like Kaaboo and Lightning in a Bottle and simply seemed to be the hottest local band in existence until...they disappeared. Come back, please!
Unforgettable Moment of the Year: Morrissey at Copley Symphony Hall. This one goes to Moz for 1) actually showing up in November and performing in town, and 2) getting rushed offstage during the encore when an obsessed fan stormed the stage and appeared to assault him. A statement issued the next day by the singer's manager cleared it up: "Morrissey's fans are not malicious. The fans were simply doing what they have been doing for almost 30 years. Trying anything they could to jump onstage and touch him, or hug him. The fan in question was certainly more aggressive in reaching out for him than most, so security had to do their job and subdue the fan. That's all it was. In the end no one was hurt, and no one was arrested." Still though, it was pretty unforgettable.
Concert of the Year: Thom Yorke at the Observatory North Park. Kudos to whoever convinced/booked the Radiohead frontman at the 1,200-capacity venue on Dec. 17. Tickets sold out faster than you can say "scalpers" and it was the must-see concert of the year. Of course, a San Diego show-going experience wouldn't be complete without locals who, in typical form, were busy talking over Thom while he performed -- forcing him to stop the show to cuss out the offenders from the stage (headdesk). This is why we can't have nice things. Watch his call-out here.
Breakout Artist: Slares. This Tijuana-based septet specializes in disco-inspired indie-rock and has been converting music fans on both sides of the border over the past year -- if this band's music doesn't get your body moving, you might be clinically dead.
Best Live Act: The Schizophonics. C'mon, we knew this was coming. No matter what local bands do, if you're not playing guitar with one hand while doing somersaults and kicking crowds into a garage-rock frenzy -- you don't stand a chance of dethroning Pat and Lety Beers (and whoever's on bass at any given moment) from this category.
Song of the Year: "Over It" by the Frights. Released this year on their third studio album and major label debut, "Hypochondriac," this infectious track -- as one of our SoundDiego panelists described on their voting ballot -- is "nothing more than great indie-pop in its purest form." That about sums it up!
Video of the Year: "Lisa's Sheets" by Los Shadows. Production-wise, nothing has been done quite like this music video in San Diego (that we're aware of). An 11-minute epic about unrequited love that we premiered back in February, it's an expertly filmed cinematic journey that fits the Chula Vista surf-pop band's sound perfectly and has set the bar incredibly high for what a local act can accomplish within the visual medium. Watch it here, and catch Los Shadows at our next SoundDiego LIVE party at Pour House Oceanside on Jan. 25 (RSVP here).
Album of the Year:Hot Snakes. Back and better than ever (read the SoundDiego interview with "Swami" John Reis here), these post-hardcore legends dropped the best album of the year (and arguably of their career) with 2018's "Jericho Sirens" -- a face-melting statement of jackhammering, lurching guitar and Rick Froberg's exasperated yelping -- and then promptly pummeled our earholes at the Observatory North Park in May. Lucky for you, they also destroy the Casbah tonight (Jan. 4). Be there.
Artist of the Year: The Frights. OK, yeah, we know they won this in 2017, too, but hear us out: Five years ago, we had this surf-punk trio open our Halloween SoundDiego LIVE party at the Office, and they were so young, they had to sit around outside the club when they weren't onstage. 2018 found them forging ahead on a riveting ever-upward trajectory -- signing to Epitaph Records; playing sold-out tour dates around the country; releasing "Hypochondiac," an incomparably fun album of ear candy pop-punk gems (see the Song of the Year category above); and most recently, landing a coveted slot on the 2019 Coachella lineup. Well done, lads; here's to continued (and much deserved) success!
Fun bonus category: The Some Guys Have All the Luck Award goes to Prayers' frontman Rafael Reyes -- who not only got engaged and married his sweetheart, Kat Von D -- but rocked a sold-out, hometown Observatory North Park crowd in October, and was also gifted a brand-new Tesla for Christmas. Of course, that pales in comparison to the couples' ultimate gift: They welcomed their first child, a beautiful baby boy, into the world in December. Congratulations!