Cufflinks? Check. Pre-rehearsed acceptance speech? Check. Ear plugs? Perhaps the most essential of all.
On Nov. 18 at the Park Theatre, the local heavy-music community will be honoured at the third annual Manitoba Loud Music Awards (MLMA). Through 18 award categories, the ceremony shines a spotlight on an oft-neglected facet of the Winnipeg music scene.
“We’re celebrating local musicians who make heavier music, specifically in the genres of metal, rock, punk and hardcore and all the subgenres that exist under those main genres,” Violet Vopni, who acts as front-of-house manager for the MLMA, says.
Vopni credits Dag Aymont, a local punk musician and founder of Badlands Promotions, as the brainchild of the awards, after he noticed his peers weren’t formally recognized.
“(Aymont) came up with this idea probably five years ago when he really wasn’t seeing other awards shows that were really honouring any heavier music,” Vopni says. “The Junos have (a category for metal/hard music). The Western Canadian Music Awards has one, but there isn’t really a lot that really explores these genres.”
Vopni believes many tend to write off heavy genres as “screaming” or “grunting into a microphone.” In reality, she says a lot of skill and technique goes into their craft.
Among the 18 categories, which include individual nods for instrumentalists featured in a typical rock quartet, are awards for bands of the year in various “loud” genres. Local group Northern Royals, which has existed under various names and with different members for more than a decade, are nominated for Rock Band of the Year.
“We’ve always been about high-energy rock and roll. We love live performances. We love being loud, so the MLMA is a great fit for us,” Evan Chandler, vocalist for Northern Royals, says.
He cites bands like Royal Blood and Foo Fighters as influences on the group’s hard-rock sound.
“We’re super happy to be a part of this awards show and that they’re having it,” Chandler says.
“These guys and girls have been working really hard at it. They go to all the shows. They’re promoting it. They’re really talking to bands and trying to showcase these genres that are overlooked.”
The fan-nominated, fan-voted awards are entirely people’s choice. Vopni and Co. simply organize and vet candidates. The voting process, which ended on Oct. 1, allowed fans to vote once every 30 days for each of the 18 categories.
“We are people, and we do vote as well, but our votes have the exact same weight as everybody else,” Vopni says.
On the day of the ceremony, expect plenty of festivities, as Coun. Sherri Rollins (no relation to Henry) and veteran Vancouver rockers Econoline Crush present awards in between showcase performances.
“We have two surprise awards. We always have at least one. The second year, it was the Teddy Bear of the Year Award,” Vopni says. “People are unsuspecting when they come to this show.”
Check out the Manitoba Loud Music Awards 2023 playlist on Spotify to familiarize yourself with this year’s slate. Buy tickets for the event at loudawards.com/tickets and at the door the day of.
Published in Volume 78, Number 09 of The Uniter (November 9, 2023)