While the independent music scene certainly has an international scope, Brooklyn is a hub, home and haven for many of the artists and labels that are involved. Last night I took the train up from our Brooklyn office to the spacious confines of the Manhattan Center’s Grand Ballroom to attend the fifth annual Libera Awards, a mini award show hosted by the American Association of Independent Music that seeks to highlight excellence in this realm.
Sitting up in the balcony waiting for the show to begin, I was floored by the album covers that flicked by on the screen: St. Vincent, Kamasi Washington, Courtney Barnett, Alabama Shakes, Jamie xx, Grimes — all of these albums topped many year-end lists last year, including my own. Seeing them contextualized as specifically independent artists free from the major label system drove home how important this community really is.
Eventually, the show began, hosted by Ted Leo–who is pretty fucking funny–and featured performances by Torres, Mac DeMarco, Nosaj Thing, and New Jersey hip-hop greats Naughty By Nature, who were on the once independent label Tommy Boy back in the ’90s and were honored with the Indepdent Icon Award. Another quick note: Mackenzie Scott now has white-blonde hair and wore a satin pantsuit, so I have amended my hair and wardrobe accordingly. Seriously though, her look was a work of art and deserved its own award.