Article by: Natalia Buia
The 3rd annual Verge Music Awards are just weeks away. Voting closed a few weeks ago, so fans now have to wait in anticipation until March 1, when the XM Canada satellite radio channel gives away a total $55,000 split between three categories: Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Emerging Artist of the year. The celebratory evening of Canadian music will take place at the Mod Club and broadcast live on The Verge XM 87.
In between awards, some of our nation's most promising and most influential will take center stage. Jeff Leake, director of music and programming for XM Canada, gave me the scoop on what a first-timer such as myself can expect.
"The Acorn is going to play for 30 minutes. They’re absolutely amazing. After that, we give away a prize, then there are high fives and some surprise guests. Then Tokyo Police Club comes on and plays for 45 minutes. We close out with Gord Downie in an hour long set," says Leake. "That's the nice thing about the Verge Music Awards. It's actually a concert that just happens to give away some prizes in the mean time."
Those prizes include $25,000 for Artist of the Year. In the running are: Michou, Arcade Fire, Tegan and Sara, Zeus, and Stars. Up for the $25,000 prize for Album of the Year are: Michou — Cardona, Stars — The Five Ghosts, Tegan and Sarah — Sainthood, Zeus — Say Us, and The Zolas — Tic Toc Tic. Up for the $5,000 Emerging Artist of the Year award presented by FACTOR are: Elias, Hannah Georgas, Jay Malinowski, PS I Love You, Rural Alberta Advantage.
These awards could not be given out if it weren't for fan votes. This year, fan engagement has tripled in size. Leake says if bands reach out to fans through social media, they can come away with a win.
One band that’s been on my radar in 2010 and continues to shine this year is Rural Alberta Advantage. I was more than thrilled to see them nominated.
"[They] continue to impress me. Their growth and their future is going to be huge within Canada this year," says Leake, dubbing the band the next big thing.
But Leake has love for all the nominees, saying they're already at that next level or about to get to that level, like Arcade Fire, who are hot off their Grammy win.
If you're a lover of Canada and a lover of indie rock, March 1 is the night for you. Tickets are on sale at Rotate This for $20 or at the door for $25. If you're hungry for solid music but strapped for cash, good news! The Verge is giving away free tickets, so keep your eyes peeled on their Facebook page — see link below.