By Matt Crowley/The AS Review
This weekend, on Jan. 29 and 30, local music publication What’s Up! magazine will host its annual awards show honoring local artists. The event, now in its ninth year, showcases the best music Bellingham has to offer and also recognizes those who have worked all year to contribute to the local scene.
While the awards show will be held at the Wild Buffalo House of Music at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30, Western will hold the second ever pre-awards show on Friday, Jan. 29. The pre-awards show will consist of two concerts: one at the Associated Students’ Underground Coffeehouse and the other at the Viking Union Multipurpose Room. The Coffeehouse show is free and runs from 7 p.m. to approximately 8:45 p.m. Locals Council of Lions and the Bellingham Free Choir are scheduled to perform.
The MPR will showcase a quartet of local bands: Idiot Pilot, Rooftops, Sugar Sugar Sugar and Yogoman Burning Band are set to play. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the show is set to start at 9 p.m. The cost is $6 for Western students with ID and $7 for general admission. Tickets will be available at the Performing Arts Center box office.
Award winners were chosen via an online poll on the What’s Up! Web site (www.whatsup-magazine.com). According to editor Brent Cole, the site received over 600 votes, “more than ever before.”
In 1998, only three years before the awards show began, What’s Up! magazine was founded as a free publication focused on local music happenings. Cole has been around since the very beginning, as both an editor and publisher. The awards show serves many purposes, he said.
“One is to just have a great weekend of local music, to celebrate great bands and showcase great music,” Cole said. “It’s a way to recognize great things people have done the year before. A lot of bands have worked their tail off to put out new records … it’s a way to recognize people for doing a good job, which you don’t really get in the scene.”
The all-ages pre-awards show, held for the first time last year at WhAAM!, serves a slightly different purpose.
“We wanted a chance for people under 21 to enjoy the celebration of the Bellingham music scene. And this year, with it being on campus, we’re really excited about the potential for a lot of kids to see bands they maybe haven’t seen before,” Cole said.
What’s Up! magazine has been free since the beginning, with 100 percent of its funding and revenue coming from local advertisements. With the recent economic situation, however, the magazine has been hard-pressed to find businesses interested in advertising.
“The magazine itself ran into some real problems because people are just trying to stay in business and not necessarily advertise. We had a couple benefits to try to keep things going,” Cole said, adding that despite the magazine’s struggles, the awards show “hasn’t been affected at all.”
Cole worked with ASP Pop Music Coordinator Hallie Anderson to both bring the pre-awards show to Western’s campus, and also to decide which bands should play when. Both Cole and Anderson agreed that when choosing the lineup, the diversity of the bands should reflect the diversity of What’s Up magazine itself.
“When we made the lineup, in general we wanted there to be no repeats, genre-wise,” Anderson said.
Anderson also stressed the importance of giving non-residents of Bellingham (i.e. many of Western’s students) a chance to get a feel for the town’s music scene.
“I think it’s important to know what’s in your backyard. It’s good to have a foundation of knowing what good music is in town. … I would love it if a new freshman student came away from the show with four new favorite bands,” she said.
“It’s a big party for Bellingham, so we love it when Bellingham comes out,” Cole said.