2016 Alternative Press Music Awards Adopt Political Theme

Held last summer at Quicken Loans Arena, the Second Annual Alternative Press Music Awards promised to be bigger and better than the inaugural affair, which was held at Voinovich Bicentennial Park behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

And it lived up to the billing.

From the moment that the stars started walking the red carpet into the venue, it was apparent last year’s event eclipsed the previous year’s event. A throng of fans stood outside the Q to watch the alt-rock celebrities pour in. Bands such as A Simple Plan, Sum 41 and All Time Low received the rowdiest receptions while headliners Weezer were quickly whisked into the venue without any opportunity for the media to corner frontman Rivers Cuomo, who, with his bright green denim jacket and well-groomed beard, looked like he had just stepped out of a Gap ad.

The event itself got off to a rocky start as the Teleprompter malfunctioned and hosts Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat, who play in All Time Low, had to repeat their opening monologue (they cracked jokes about how the awards, which they dubbed the “Hot Topic Oscars,” had “more sponsors than NASCAR”). But once the glitches were fixed, the awards went off without a hitch.

“We were blown away by last year,” says Alternative Press publisher and founder Mike Shea. “The first year we were in Voinovich Park, and we didn’t know what to expect. That event exceeded expectations. We didn’t know what to expect being in the Q, but it was a huge success for everybody.”

When it came time to plan this year’s event, Shea ran into a roadblock. The Republican National Convention called dibs on Quicken Loans Arena. Try as he might, he couldn’t find a way to keep the awards in Cleveland.

“We were set to do it again at the Q but we had to move it someplace," he says. "We wanted to keep it in Ohio, so we’ve moved it to Columbus.”

Taking place on Monday, July 18, at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, the event will be hosted once again by Jack and Alex of All Time Low. Given the hoopla that's accompanying the RNC, they plan to bicker with one another like a couple of political candidates. The event will be streamed on Amazon and Twitch.

“We definitely knew we wanted to work with Jack and Alex again,” says Shea. “They did such a great job last year and are big fan favorites. We just knew we would be doing some kind of a take on a political convention. We thought it would be funny if Jack and Alex will be running against each other and sniping at each other. We couldn’t resist [the political angle] since it’s the first night of the RNC. It’s literally the elephant in the room.”

The awards will feature performances from A Day To Remember, Good Charlotte, Yellowcard, Of Mice & Men, Papa Roach, BABYMETAL, Issues, the Maine, Mayday Parade and Beartooth.

“BABYMETAL is showing up and everyone is talking about that and we have Good Charlotte who has just returned with new material," says Shea. "Ohio favorites Beartooth are performing a cool set that you can only see there. Rob Halford from Judas Priest will be there. All these other bands will be there in some way or another. The list goes and goes. We probably have 60 to 70 individual musicians who will be part of the show this year. It’s pretty crazy.”

Alternative Press has championed shock rocker Marilyn Manson since he got his start in the '90s. Appropriately, he’ll receive the magazine’s Icon Award at this year’s event.

“We gave him his first cover ever,” says Shea. “He was being represented by [Cleveland-based] Nothing Records at the time. They introduced us and told us they had this new act with a connection to Canton. We met him, and he has always been really cool to us. He was on our cover something like four times. He’s always been a great seller. No matter what has gone on in the music industry style-wise, he never faded out and stayed vital and relevant. That’s hard to do as a musician after 20 something years. We weren’t sure if he was going to accept it because he’s Marilyn Manson, and he doesn’t have to do anything. But he did and that’s awesome. He’s been part of our family. Plus, that last record is amazing. He definitely warrants the award.”

Shea sounds optimistic that the festival will return to Cleveland next year.

“We have a couple of cities that are jockeying for next year’s event,” he says. “I know Columbus wants us to stay. Cities outside of Ohio have wanted us to come. Cleveland has put down some strong initial conversations and planning around bringing the show back. They want to make the city more of a music destination. For them, it’s something they want the show to be part of that. They are activated, and I have to give Destination Cleveland a lot of credit because they’re all over us to tell the truth. It’s really great.” 
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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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