With the year coming to an end, it's about time we look back at the best and brightest in San Diego's music scene and dole out our 2017 SoundDiego Music Awards. Our highly scientific voting process (we simply ask our staff members) usually ends up with a few curveball winners, and more than one out-of-left-field nominee. Unlike some other award shows, we keep our categories whittled down to the bare essentials and forgo the long-winded, self-congratulatory thank-you speeches completely. Ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu -- the winners of the 2017 SoundDiego Music Awards are...
Wackiest Local Moment: Unfortunately, the 2017 San Diego Music Awards took a concerning turn toward the end of the Schizophonics' live set. The band's bassist Brian Reilly smashed his instrument onstage, a large part of which flew into the front row of the audience and by sheer coincidence, pegged his ex, Emily Reilly (Birdy Bardot), in the head and knocked her out. She was taken to the hospital and was thankfully OK -- but we doubt Brian's going to be destroying any basses onstage again anytime soon. What a truly bizarre series of events.
Best Concert Visuals: Flaming Lips. Few things rival the aural/visual overload of a Flaming Lips show, and when the psych-pop/rock icons played the Observatory North Park on April 15, they didn't disappoint. [Watch our footage from the show, along with Alysha Nett's Wayne Coyne interview here]
Unforgettable Moment: Nick Cave's June 26 performance at San Diego Civic Theatre. Spending almost as much time out in the audience as on stage, rock's "Prince of Darkness" had the entirety of San Diego's music scene (judging by the sheer number of Instagram posts) in the palm of his hand.
Concert of the Year: Live Wire Bar's 25th anniversary show with Rocket From the Crypt, Mariachi El Bronx and the Meices on Nov. 2. Simply put: This celebration felt like the biggest house party ever and the perfect embodiment of the beloved bar's "Cold Beer, Warm Friends" motto. [See our photos]
Breakout Artist: While we’re all busy covering Tom DeLonge's UFO obsession or Jewel's latest holiday tour, multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Elise Trouw racked up tens of thousands of hits on YouTube, released a debut full-length (which we raved about here), and started playing huge venues even outside of San Diego. Next big thing? All signs point to 'yes.'
Best New Artist: Vakoum, New York transplants and two of the best musicians playing in San Diego right now, wowed us (and anyone who came across 'em) with their debut 'nu-stargaze' EP "Home for Home" (which we wrote about). A recent Casbah gig opening for none other than the Album Leaf couldn't have been more appropriate. We can't wait to hear more from them.
Best Live Act: Trouble in the Wind / Mrs. Henry (tie). When it comes to converting audience members to full-fledged fanatics, few local groups do it better in concert. With Trouble in the Wind's alt-country/pop-rock swagger and Mrs. Henry's epic jam-band theatrics, these two are worth the price of admission and more.
Song of the Year: "Tide Pools (Small Culture remix)," by Splavender. So good that the song, which pairs up two of our favorite local artists, landed a 91x Local Break over the summer by serving up some wicked ear candy. Dig in.
Album of the Year: "So Many Hoops, So Little Time," by Hideout. A melodic, smart and heartfelt sophomore full-length album from the Cory Stier (Cults, Mrs. Magician) and Gabe Rodriguez (Cults) project that has, like their stellar 2014 debut, found a permanent home in our record rotation. [Listen/buy it here]
Artist of the Year: The Frights. Selling out huge shows across the country, landing late-night TV performances, and putting on their own festivals? These kids are the real deal and their hard work is clearly paying off. We're continually impressed with their upward climb. Congrats, lads!