With the year (thankfully) coming to an end, it's nigh time we look back at the best and brightest in San Diego's music scene -- and dole out our 2016 SoundDiego Music Awards. Our highly scientific voting process (we simply ask our staff members) always ends up with a few curveball winners, and more than one completely-out-of-left-field nominee (Hannah Lott-Schwartz, we're looking at you). 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 2016 SoundDiego Music Awards.
Unforgettable Moment of the Year: Unfortunately, 2016 will perhaps be remembered most for the sheer number of music legends we lost. Rest In Peace: David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Phife Dawg, Scotty Moore, Sharon Jones, Glenn Frey, Sir George Martin, Merle Haggard, Keith Emerson, Maurice White, Greg Lake, Alan Vega, Leon Russell, and Natalie Cole and Lemmy Kilmister (who technically passed in 2015, but still) and the list sadly goes on.
Breakout Artist of the Year: The Frights. These kids keep getting better and better. They've proven that unrelenting touring and an incessant/hilarious social media presence does wonders (having that ol’ FIDLAR support doesn’t hurt either, amirite?). Can we expect even bigger things in 2017? Who knows but since we're talkin' about 'em -- cue their new Christmas video.
Best Live Act: The Schizophonics. Thanks to Shady Francos' win in this category last year, the Schizos took a year off -- but they're back in the winner's column (nearly unanimous!) and crazier than ever. The trio's unending energy seems to get more and more manic with each show. They're currently over in the UK dousing unsuspecting Brits with a taste of their onstage chaos, and it's only a matter of time before the rest of the world wants a sample of our zaniest rock & roll export.
Concert of the Year: Guns n' Roses at Qualcomm Stadium on Aug. 22. This category was a tough call here at SoundDiego HQ, but after the dust settled, one at-long-last reunited behemoth was left standing. Axl, Slash and Co. surprisingly held their appetites for destruction together long enough to bring their Not in This Lifetime tour through San Diego, and the results were as unforgettable as we'd all hoped.
Song of the Year: "Chill Bill," by Rob $tone. Written after spending some time in the back of a SDPD cruiser one day, $tone inked a record deal with RCA on the back of this anthem, which samples the famous whistle from Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films, and has gone on to garner more than 17 million plays on SoundCloud and over 10 million streams on Spotify. He may have flown under the radar here in town but there's simply no denying: Rob $tone had San Diego's song of the year.
Album of the Year: "For Margaret," by the Verigolds. Who hasn't jumped on this PB foursome's psychedelic bandwagon? No other local album received anywhere close to the number of votes "For Margaret" got in this category despite some staunch competition (cough, Trouble in the Wind, cough). Perhaps SoundDiego associate editor Dustin Lothspeich said it best back in July when he wrote: "On 'For Margaret,' the band takes majestic strides across blissed-out psychedelic landscapes -- in turn fusing the best parts of rock, pop, chillwave and subtle electro together for a Technicolor journey that's nearly impossible not to get lost in." The voters have spoken and "Margaret" takes home the trophy.
Artist of the Year: Andra Day. After her seemingly meteoric rise to mainstream popularity in 2015 -- capped off by a holiday Apple Music commercial with her mentor Stevie Wonder -- Day kept the relentless momentum going this year too. The singer extraordinaire garnered two 2016 Grammy nominations for Best R&B Album (for her debut record "Cheers to the Fall") and Best R&B Performance for her powerhouse single "Rise Up," followed by an in-demand nationwide tour (including a sold-out hometown stop at Humphreys Concert by the Bay). She was most recently seen on Fox's "Taraji's White Hot Holidays" TV show dueting with none other than Alicia Keys on "Someday At Christmas" -- if that ain't star power, we don't know what is.