APMAS FlyerThe Alternative Press Music Awards are an annual award show presented by Cleveland-based music magazine Alternative Press. The inaugural ceremony began at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, and reportedly moved to Columbus this year due to the city of Cleveland hosting the Republican National Convention. Taking place at the Schottenstein Center just north of the Ohio State University campus, this year’s awards show encompassed live performances, video interviews, memorable speeches, and lots of playful banter between hosts Jack Barakat and Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low.

My favorite part of this year’s show were the performances, which made the event feel more like a music festival than a black tie affair. Ranging from 90s rock to metalcore and everything in between, the performances made what could have been a lackluster evening a night to remember.


Notable Performances

Mayday Parade and The Maine feat. Stephen Jenkins (Third Eye Blind) – “Jumper”

Opening the ceremony were Mayday Parade and The Maine performing several of their well-known songs. The Maine, decked out in matching leopard-print suits set the standard for formal alternativeTM dress for the evening. Joined by Stephen Jenkins of Third Eye Blind, the set culminated in a joint performance of classic 1990s song “Jumper,” with the small percentage of the audience who were actually alive in the 1990s enthusiastically singing along to every word.

Issues

You should never judge a band based on what you read in the alternative tabloids. I spent years dismissing Issues based on clickbait articles and butthurt commenters. When the band took the stage I turned to my girlfriend and said “you would probably like this band.” Before their first song was over, I was hooked. They mixed metalcore with modern rock and R&B style vocals but did so seamlessly and without haste. The energy and genuine excitement that they exhibited not only lured me in to their music, but their live performance as well. Issues officially has a new fan.

Good Charlotte

Good Charlotte
Much angst

Another band I spent years discounting was Good Charlotte (I’m beginning to realize now that I’ve been a pretentious music snob all my life). However, while performing songs from their latest album Youth Authority, I heard a much more mature and versatile band than the mall-core singles I heard in middle school. The few songs they performed were contemporary, relatable, and serious enough to be taken seriously. “Life Changes” is a standout, and I suggest picking up Youth Authority to see a new side of an old band.

Papa Roach feat. Machine Gun Kelly – “Last Resort”

We all remember screaming our lungs out to Papa Roach’s “Last Resort” when it debuted on MTV in 2000. Hailing from Cleveland, Papa Roach became a veritable force to be reckoned with on early to mid-2000s rock radio and MTV (before it went music-less). After performing another famous hit, “Scars,” the band invited Cleveland-native Machine Gun Kelly to the stage to shut down the house with “Last Resort.” The group had insane stage presence coupled with a song to which many of the audience members had strong emotional ties. Near the end of the tune, MGK even jumped into the audience, singing and moshing along while Jacoby finished the job. I texted my friends after: “I can finally die happy.” Ironic?

Best Vocalist: Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy
Best Guitarist: Jack Fowler of Sleeping With Sirens
Best Bassist: Skyler Acord of Issues
Best Drummer: Christian Coma of Black Veil Brides
Best International Band: You Me At Six
Best Music Video: Panic At The Disco – “Emperor’s New Clothes”
Song of the Year: Panic At The Disco – “Hallelujah”

Neck Deep

Neck Deep
Their necks are so deep

Neck Deep is another band which gave me negative first impressions. When they signed to Hopeless Records a couple of years ago, the press release was coupled with the music video for “A Part Of Me.” That was the first time I ever remember feeling old in my entire life. I was only 23 at the time, but damn could I just not relate to what this kid from Wales was singing about. He was probably a teenager at the time, and the lyrical content and music video reflected that. After having won Best Live Band, the band took the stage to perform the following covers:

Green Day – “Welcome to Paradise”
New Found Glory – “Hit or Miss”
All Time Low – “Dear Maria Count Me In” feat. Derek DiScanio of State Champs
Blink 182 – “The Rock Show” feat. Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low

The band finished their set with an original, featuring Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional. I was never more disappointed than when they exited the stage. I was smitten with the overwhelmingly fun atmosphere of their live show, and earnestly believe that they 100% deserved their Skully for Best Live Band.

Of Mice & Men

This is a group whose vocalist Austin Carlile introduced as being from “Orange County, California,” but who have their origins in Columbus. I spent years hanging around and playing shows with Carlile whose old band, Attack Attack skyrocketed him to alternative-level fame in the late 2000s. After leaving AA, Carlile headed over to Paper Tiger Studios to establish OM&M and begin the long journey to success a second time. I don’t think any of us knew that Carlile would become such a mainstay in the alternative and metalcore scenes, but as he reminded us with his lyrics during the band’s performance: “don’t you ever underestimate me.”

A Day to Remember feat. Scott Stapp (Creed) – “Higher”

As the night came to a close, the crowd anxiously awaited the headlining performance of Florida band A Day to Remember. A video soon came onto the JumboTron with the members of A Day to Remember lamenting that their singer was stuck in Houston, but the rest of the band would perform anyway. After a cringe-worthy skit and stalling by hosts Barakat and Gaskarth, the band finally took the stage and asked if any audience member could sing some of their songs. A man raised his hand and was given a microphone, responding firmly: “I can.” Well dear readers, that man was Scott Stapp of Creed.

Scott Stapp
Scott Stapp Shreds

Stapp took the stage and successfully began singing one of ADTR’s pop-punk songs, with looks of confusion and bewilderment from most of the audience. Again, much of the crowd wasn’t even alive in the 1990s, let alone would know who Scott Stapp is. Near the end of their first song together, Stapp stopped the band and suggested that they play something else instead. The entire saga being a hoax and publicity stunt, I was actually relieved when the group began playing hit Creed song “Higher,” instantly bringing me back to singing along to all of my favorite songs on 99.7 The Blitz when I was 11 years old. Imagine my disappointment when after the song was over, the real singer of A Day to Remember came onto the stage and the band played a legitimate set.

Best Live Band: Neck Deep
Artist Philanthropic: Jake Luhrs for HeartSupport
Most Dedicated Fanbase: The Ghost Inside
Breakthrough Band: State Champs
Best Underground Band: Too Close To Touch
Album of the Year: Twenty One Pilots – “Blurryface”
Artist of the Year: Twenty One Pilots

When it was all said and done, I was delighted to have attended this year’s Alternative Press Music Awards, getting to see some of my favorite artists perform and win awards, and being introduced to new artists I never would have previously given a chance. I realized that music is not bound by genre, stereotype, or its fanbase – it begins and ends with the connection that the music and the artists make with the listener and that emotional sentiment is without words. If the APMAs ever return to Columbus, I will be one of the first in line to buy tickets and support alternative music.

“Wanna go to Alaska June 22nd?”

That’s the text message I received back in January from my old bandmate, Tim Waters. He and Stephen Goldstein, our bass player from Someone Like You, rose from the ashes of our defunct easycore band to form We Are The Movies, an alternative pop-punk band based out of Columbus, Ohio.

Without hesitation, I immediately committed; because all I’d been hearing about for the past eight years was Alaska. Tim’s old band, Nothing Less, was a mainstay of the early 2000s Alaskan pop-punk scene, performing at the Alaska State Fair, Sullivan Arena, and the University of Alaska – Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses. Nothing Less went global in 2005 performing with the Vans Warped Tour across the United States and Canada and performing at such famed venues as the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood and CBGB in New York.

I met Tim back in 2008 through a craigslist ad seeking a pop-punk drummer. Before I knew it, we had recorded an EP, had a couple of our songs on the soundtrack of the Best Documentary at the 2012 Mountain Film Awards, and were performing at America’s Longest Continually Running Music Venue, the Newport Music Hall. By the time 2010 rolled around, Stephen and I hit the road working for a magazine on Vans Warped Tour, working on the tour during the day and performing acoustic songs and promoting our album in the early mornings and late, late evenings. That summer took us everywhere from Boston, Massachusetts to the Mexican border in San Diego, California. We learned a lot about hard work that year, and that experience would come into play as we set off to Alaska to kick-off Vans Warped Tour 2016 at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.


Day 1 – A Formal Introduction

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KWHL 106.5 FM
  • Anger Management, the entity behind Road to Warped Tour, books us on radio station KWHL 106.5 FM to perform live and interview with Bob & Chad on the morning show.
  • The boys perform “Happy EX-Mas” while I film and photograph.
  • The reality of having to be somewhere at 9:00 A.M. reminds us that being on the road is no different than having a day job back home.

Day 2 – The Warm-Up

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The Covenant House
  • Anger Management books us another show, this time at the Covenant House, a safe refuge which provides shelter for homeless youth in Alaska.
  • GCI, Alaska’s premier telecommunications provider, co-sponsors the event and provides 50 free tickets to the Road to Warped Tour. This will be the first time many of these kids have ever seen a concert.
  • I join the band on tambourine and we perform an acoustic set between speeches from GCI representatives and Covenant House.
  • Afterward, the boys do a signing and photo op while I give away free merchandise and coordinate with GCI. The kids go wild.

Day 2.5 – Wicked Wanda

  • We hop in the van and head over to Chilkoot Charlie’s, or simply “Koot’s,” a world famous bar and music venue where the band will headline the Warped Tour pre-party. Catering is served and we have dinner and watch the newest Game of Thrones with a band from New York called Behind the Façade. Good times.
  • The boys take the stage around midnight while the sun still blazes overhead. I sell merch and take photographs. We meet a girl who offers to sell merch for us at the festival the next day and we acquiesce.
  • Everyone is surprised to see the band Sleeping With Sirens in our audience, only to realize that they are only there to shoot pool and probably didn’t even notice us performing. Stephen and I laugh about the time we got into a fight with some of their members in Los Angeles in 2010.
  • We head off into the night to stir up some trouble in a brand new city.

Day 3 – The Big Day

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Warped Tour 2010 in Los Angeles, CA vs. Warped Tour 2016 in Anchorage, AK
  • The sound of an alarm clock buzzing near my head is the worst possible thing I could hear after passing out a few hours earlier on a stranger’s floor.
  • We arrive early at Sullivan Arena and begin setting up the merch tent. The band performs soundcheck while I coordinate a professional photographer, catering, and freebies from the vendors.
  • We  Are The Movies perform on the main stage. They are the first band to perform at the first Vans Warped Tour event in 2016. I poorly livestream the event over facebook and try to maintain the appearance of professionalism.
  • We spend the rest of the day hanging backstage with our favorite bands, hustling for enough money to get home, and making new friends from all over the world. Our merch girl turns out to be the best damn merch girl any of us have ever seen. She promises to show us around the city later and again, we acquiesce.

Day 4 – Nature Beckons

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Beluga Point
  • The next day is spent exploring Independence Mine State Historical Park in Wasilla. The views are breathtaking. We have a snowball fight in June. We drink water right out of the stream. We experience Alaska.
  • Later that night, Tim and Mike perform an acoustic set to raise money for an organization that teaches teens how to use multimedia. At this point, the band has made five appearances in four days. We eat our free pizza and drink our free wine as we have become accustomed to do.
  • The next several hours are spent moving from bar to restaurant to another stranger’s floor. It’s daylight before we blissfully drift off to sleep. We are beginning to get used to this.


Days 5 & 6 – The Tour Guide

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Midnight in Alaska
  • Our merch girl turns out to actually be a legitimate tour guide with some serious expertise. We visit Earthquake Park, eat Thai food, see a moose, mistake a pod of Beluga whales for white caps, and spend the evening around a campfire singing Red Jumpsuit Apparatus songs on ukulele.


Day 7 – Home

  • Eventually we make our way to the airport. I have a layover in Phoenix while everyone else is at LAX. They see Charlie Day, while I see a desert. My girlfriend picks me up and I go back to normal life. Happy ex-mas, the war is over.FullSizeRender_3

**Special thanks to Chris and everyone at Road to Warped Tour, Pat for his hospitality, Chloe for her skills and company, and Rosie for her food, drinks, and floor to sleep on. I will never forget you, Alaska.**