1) Despite an impossible schedule, which includes a bachelorette party for HellFire Choir's lead vixen, Shelly Cardiff, the hard rock nominees show up to play a blazing set at the SF Weekly Music Awards band showcase and H.E.A.R. benefit, during which the Choir members launch into an explicit song about anal sex -- several hours before the "cock-tail" hour when, Cardiff suggests, such topics are more acceptable.
2) Because the showcase/benefit is a barbecue, the children of American Heartbreak's drummer, Erik Lannon, are given a rare opportunity to see their father in action. Fourteen-year-old Danny is "all about punk rock"; his 6-year-old brother, Justin, is all about anything Daddy does. (Both young lads just escape HellFire Choir's ode to sodomy, saving their corruption-through-rock for another day.)
3) The Frisky Frolics, those superb purveyors of Depression-era show tunes, open their set with a "rest-home favorite" that makes ample use of ukulele and kazoo. Despite themselves, hard rock and punk fans are rapt. Says Rick "The Dimestore Dandy" Quisol, "We live for those looks of confusion."
4) DJ Polywog pushes the Steve Miller Band's "Fly Like an Eagle" into the future, augmenting the song with beats and warping the chorus to fit her own wondrous, strange sensibility. Over the next six hours, between bands or whenever else music is needed, the indefatigable Polywog does the same with the Rolling Stones and Nat King Cole. And in the midst of it all, she offers to lend out her gear to another nominated artist, saying, "It's the music that matters. The music."
5) Disappointed with the quality of the backline supplied for the show, Angry Amputees frontwoman Stacey Dee announces, "We usually play through Marshall stacks, but we're playing through Fender stacks today, so it's probably gonna sound like shit. [We're nominated for] best punk band." As a superfan licks beads of sweat off Dee, I think about how punk rock has changed.
6) Despite nervousness at being the only hip hop act playing at a rock club, Foreign Legion gets the crowd on its feet for the most rousing set of the afternoon, saying, "Let's hear it for barbecue!" Then, props are offered to anyone and everyone who makes music, whether hip hop, rock, or "that weird zydeco shit."
7) At the awards ceremony, the Extra Action Marching Band -- the group with the most write-in nominations in the "Beyond" category -- parades in gold-spangled glory from the nearby Tower Records and begins performing for the line outside Bimbo's 365 Club, waving flags, beating drums, blowing horns, and grinding lasciviously on the pavement. Automobile traffic stops and the police arrive.
8) Glowing Chinese lanterns, palm trees, and the sight and sound of Gamelan Sekar Jaya, an exquisitely festooned 45-piece Balinese orchestra, set an unusual tone of reverence and appreciation. The usually chatty, schmoozy, awards-ceremony crowd listens attentively while the Nigerian Brothers perform delicate African folk music. Taiko Dojo receives a standing ovation, a first in the history of the ceremony.
9) Master of Ceremonies Vise Grip adds a strain of absurdist levity to the mix with (among other semi-sequiturs): "I wish Sly Stone had paid my bills when I was running that hardware store over in West Portal."
10) During the grand finale, Loco Bloco, Hot Pink Feathers, and the Devil-Ettes bring the entire audience -- award winners, jaded music critics, nominated musicians, music fans, haggard production team, and the rest -- to its feet to dance like mad and shake aspirin bottles filled with kidney beans. Chairs and tables are overturned. Glasses are smashed. The Extra Action Marching Band joins in, leading much of the crowd to a bar across the street, where horns and drums can be heard ringing out late into the night.
11) The fortune cookie left on a table reads, "Without music, life would be an error. -- Friedrich Nietzsche."
12) And last, but certainly not least, we have ...THE WINNERS!
The Court & Spark
Captured! By Robots
Stymie & the Pimp Jones Luv Orchestra
Extra Action Marching Band