In its 11th year, The Age Victoria Music Awards was another resounding success, held at 170 Russell to a packed house last night where a mixed crowd of old and young, industry professionals and general punters gathered on a balmy evening to celebrate all things local music related.

With 115 nominations split across 23 categories, the night honours not just the artists behind the music, but also the venues and community radio stations at the heart of it all.

Co-presented by community stations, Triple R 102.7FM and PBS 106.7FM, the awards came out thick and fast with psych-rock legends, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard picking up three gongs, including best album for this year’s Nonagon Infinity, to sweep the field.

Other big winners on the night were experimental rock stalwarts, the Drones, with two awards for best song, ‘Taman Shud’ and best regional act, C.W. Stoneking for best male act, Alex Lahey for best female act, and Camp Cope for best emerging act.

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Editor-in-chief of the Age, Mark Forbes, appointed this year after the departure of Andrew Holden in February, made a speech commending the live music presence in Melbourne and how far it has come since the SLAM rally in 2010 to save the Tote hotel and other similar smaller venues to protest the then, absurd, Live Music Agreement regulations.

It wasn’t just about the artists though. The Tote won for the newly appointed, Best Venue (Under 500 Capacity), while the Corner Hotel took out the Over 500 Capacity award. The Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine won for best regional hotel and there was even a best festival award, which went to the magnificent, Meredith Music Festival.

After the awards, RocKwiz host, Brian Nankervis gave the lowdown on Triple R, inducted into the Music Victoria Hall of Fame after 40 years of faithful broadcasting.

From its humble beginnings in 1976 as RMT FM at RMIT University to what it has grown to become, RRR has been a staple of community radio in Melbourne over 40 years. Chair of the Board of Directors, Geoff King stressed the importance of community radio in developing Melbourne’s strong music scene.

Thanking all the sponsors, Music Victoria CEO, Patrick Donohue and Age Entertainment Guide editor, Martin Boulton were full of praise for all the nominated acts, stating they’re the reason why there is increased overseas attention in Melbourne’s music scene.

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Kicking off the performance side of the evening, 21-year-old wunderkind, Tash Sultana, blew the 800 strong away with her soaring vocals, beautiful guitar licks, in turn full of beautiful reverb and jagged buzz tones, and jaunting, percussive beats.

Using loop pedals to layer over the top of one another, the huge sound Sultana creates defies her pint size stature on stage. Performing extended versions of her songs ‘Jungle’ and new single, ‘Notion’, the dynamic Melbourne artist was rapturously received.

Best emerging act winners, Camp Cope, may be short on words but certainly not lacking in performance chops.  The all female trio have been unstoppable since they formed last year, with airplay on every major community station around the country, topping several mid-year album lists as well as selling out their Melbourne launch over a month in advance.

Raw, honest and organic, the band performed hit songs, ‘Done’ and ‘Lost: Season 1’ with a no-nonsense attitude. No fuss, no muss. There is also a working class quality to the songs and we all collectively felt it too.

Returning as backing band for this years awards, the EG Allstars Band supported eight diverse and distinct solo artists on the night.

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With her roots firmly in folk music, Freya Josephine Hollick is unlike any artist to have graced the 170 Russell stage with her unique yodelling and country charm. Aboriginal Yolgnu performer, Gawurra, beautifully performed ‘Ratja Yaliyali’, translated to ‘Vine of Love’; a thread of love, which keeps everything connected.

Fresh from internationally acclaimed shows across the UK, Europe, Canada and the USA, folk rock-duo, the Pierce Brothers share an irresistible energy on stage. Something for Kate’s, Paul Dempsey was also on hand to play a track off his eclectic yet incisive second solo album, Strange Loop.

Best Hip-Hop Album Nominee, Remi owned the stage, complete with backpack, best female artist winner, Alex Lahey, proved she was worthy of all the buzz, Drones front-man Gareth Lidiard, made some delightfully catchy noise, and Queen of soul Kylie Auldust, also an award recipient for her album Family Tree, funked the stage up and got the audience dancing up a storm.

The stage was then set for the hugely popular 19-piece ska group, Melbourne Ska Orchestra, close the night off with typical aplomb. Collecting the Best Global or Reggae album award on the night, the MSO brought nominees, winners, industry representatives and regular music fans to the floor in a celebration that lasted well into the night. Overall, the Age Music Victoria Awards signalled a win for Melbourne’s continually thriving music scene.

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