Review: 2023 AIR Awards @ Freemason Hall (Adelaide)

2023 AIR Awards ceremony was staged at Freemasons Hall in Adelaide on 3 August, 2023 - image © Mike Lockheart
Mike's life calling is live music photography. He's been lucky to work with bands shooting behind the scenes videos, concert photography and continues to shoot as often as he can with scenestr. More work and musings can be seen on @first3only.

Australia's preeminent independent music industry award show, the 2023 AIR Awards took place in downtown Adelaide on a Thursday night (3 August), warmly welcoming a diverse throng of Australia's finest independent movers and shakers in the music business from across the country.

Dovetailing with the SA Government's pledge to invest in and celebrate the thriving music and arts scene in the state, the Awards have been hosted in the city since 2017, taking residency annually at the magnificent Freemasons Hall on North Terrace for the fourth year in a row.

The evening, beginning with a drinks reception and a bustling networking opportunity, dazzled patrons, nominees and industry insiders with a showcase of awe-inspiring homegrown musical talent onstage and well-earned recognition by way of award nominations.

Image © Mike Lockheart

Proceedings were segued and presented by affable co-hosts Dylan Lewis and Jessica Braithwaite. Lewis, hilariously attired in a jungle-camo singlet jumpsuit with the shortest shorts known to man bounced onto the Freemasons Hall stage; jovial, charming and immediately engaging.

Welcoming Jess to the stage further instigated monologues of banter and genuine appreciation for the raw musical talent between the two.

Phonetically written and enunciated fire-escape notes were read aloud by Lewis to much aplomb before moving onto formal proceedings, where CEO of AIR, Maria Amato paid sincere thanks to the wider AIR team and all crew involved in bringing the night to life.

Jessica Braithwaite & Dylan Lewis - image © Mike Lockheart

Expressing her honour at having the opportunity to be a representative for the sector, Amato detailed the inspiration they collectively draw from the strength and determination of the artists celebrated on the night, and further – to do things on their own terms, uncompromising and determined.

Prior to any award categories being announced, local mainstays Wanderers took to the stage to perform a rousing one-tune set very much setting the tone for the night.

Heartfelt thanks to traditional owners of the land were offered by state MP Katrine Hildyard, paying recognition in her speech to the Aboriginal artists who have deepened the understanding of connection to the land and their own hard histories.

Wanderers - image © Mike Lockheart

As well as this, was acknowledgement of the enormous value of the industry and how music truly strengthens the fabric of the state.

Commencing with a big name win to wow the crowd, Angus Stone's alter-ego Dope Lemon took home the award for Best Independent Blues and Roots Album or EP for his 2022 LP 'Rose Pink Cadillac', accepting the award gracefully via pre-recorded video from the United States where he was preparing to play Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago, Illinois.

Following Jesswar's win of Best Independent Hip Hop Album or EP, country singer-songwriter Andy Golledge received his trophy for Best Independent Country Album or EP, relishing the opportunity to tell the story of his mother's friend who had playfully suggested that when he wins his first award to thank her – thanks were indeed given to Gina, and to much laughter.

Nominee for best Pop Album/EP; Jem Cassar-Daley's live performance of 'King Of Disappointment', while not award winning on the night nonetheless wowed onlookers with a sensitive and emotive rendition of her recent single.

Winners of Best Independent Children's Album or EP, Teeny Tiny Stevies profound speech on the challenges faced by independent artistry, having themselves held down careers in the industry for 19 years, yet only finding such acclaim once pivoting into children's music, was incredibly well received.

Andy Golledge
Andy Golledge - image © Mike Lockheart

Golledge's ethereal performance of 'Lighter To The Wind' preceded one of the evening's more astonishing feats, which was King Stingray's first win of the night with Best Independent Rock Album or EP.

The NT-based Yolŋu surf-rock outfit, who recently played a rollicking concert in Adelaide went on to score a hat trick of victories, with Breakthrough Independent Artist Of The Year and Independent Album Of The Year!

Accepting each award via video, guitarist Roy Kellaway led the group in sharing their sheer pride and joy in gaining such recognition and shared they were coming away truly feeling the love.

Winning Best Independent Pop Album or EP for 'Futurenever', artist Daniel Johns delivered one of the more eclectic and comical acceptance speeches over video, delivering an unusual monologue alongside his 'assistant', a paint-splattered mannequin which highly amused much of the crowd.

This year's Outstanding Acheivement Award, factored in a $5,000 professional development grant. Recipient, the incredible Dr Catherine Crock, founder of Hush Foundation, earned a standing ovation for her work in recognising the stressful environment for patients and parents alike in childhood cancer care.

In her experience, families had suggested the calming properties music had during stressful and concerning times. Out of this grew the Hush Foundation, which seeks to remedy this by creating a calming environment by way of music.

The 2023 AIR Awards featured two new categories: Independent Marketing Team of the Year and Independent Publicity Team of the Year, both looking to celebrate the teams working behind the scenes.

These were awarded respectfully to I Oh You/ Mushroom Marketing for their work with the Confidence Man release 'Tilt', and founder of publicity firm Super Duper, Genna Alexopoulos.

Genesis Owusu's victory of Best Song allowed the enigmatic artist the opportunity to explain the genesis of the hit 'Get Inspired': "I truly appreciate it, I wrote the song because I was feeling uninspired, written as a motivator so the fact it resonates – I truly appreciate and don't take for granted."

Yours Truly
Yours Truly - image © Mike Lockheart

Sydney-based pop-punk band Yours Truly brought the awards ceremony to a climactic close with their performance, featuring a deeply impassioned vocal performance from singer Mikaila Delgado and her fearsome band.

More photos from the awards ceremony.

2023 AIR Awards Winners

Best Independent Blues and Roots Album or EP

Dope Lemon - 'Rose Pink Cadillac'

Best Independent Hip Hop Album or EP

Jesswar - 'Life's Short, Live Big'

Best Independent Country Album or EP

Andy Golledge - 'Strength Of A Queen'

Best Independent Jazz Album or EP

Donny Benét - 'Le Piano'

Best Independent Classical Album or EP

William Barton / Veronique Serret - 'Heartland'

Best Independent Children's Album or EP

Teeny Tiny Stevies - 'How To Be Creative'

Best Independent Dance, Electronica or Club Single

Cub Sport – 'Always Got The Love'

Best Independent Punk Album or EP

Teen Jesus And The Jean Teasers - 'Pretty Good For A Girl Band'

Best Independent Heavy Album or EP

Northlane - 'Obsidian'

Best Independent Dance or Electronica Album or EP

Confidence Man - 'Tilt'

Best Independent Rock Album or EP

King Stingray - 'King Stingray'

Best Independent Soul/R&B Album or EP

Felivand - 'Ties'

Best Independent Pop Album or EP

Daniel Johns - 'Futurenever'

Breakthrough Independent Artist Of The Year

King Stingray

Independent Song Of The Year

Genesis Owusu - 'Get Inspired'

Independent Album Of The Year

King Stingray - 'King Stingray'

Independent Marketing Team Of The Year

I Oh You, Mushroom Marketing - Confidence Man, 'Tilt'

Independent Publicity Team Of The Year

Genna Alexopoulos - Teen Jesus And The Jean Teasers, 'Pretty Good For A Girl Band'

Outstanding Achievement Award

Dr. Catherine Crock

Independent Label Of The Year

Chapter Music

Let's Socialise

Facebook pink circle    Instagram pink circle    YouTube pink circle    YouTube pink circle

 OG    NAT

Twitter pink circle    Twitter pink circle