2010 MTV VMA Pre-Party:
The Battle for the Best Breakout LA Artist VMA
By: Nevra Azerkan
On September 10, 2010, I arrived at The Music Box in Hollywood. Upon entering the venue, I felt transformed back to the 90s as DJ Scribble spun. He turned the house into an Abercrombie and Fitch store and that is not a compliment. Not long after everyone piled in, the festivities began: the battle for The Best Breakout LA Artist VMA. Among the judges were Travie McCoy and Swizz Beatz.
First on stage was The Devine. These guys were essentially a 3OH!3 ripoff. Lucky for them, they seemed to have a fan base or they invited all of their extended family who came out to support them for the night, sporting The Devine t-shirts, bracelets and even face paint. While their fans may not rival those of Justin Bieber, I still found myself with an unsettling feeling being around these screaming fans. Granted they had the energy and enthusiasm to get the crowd going, but many were not impressed including Brian Bell of Weezer, who was observed covering his ears during their first song and then seen abruptly leaving before their second. In all fairness, the guitarist did seem to think he was above everyone else while he stood around with someone who looked eerily like bassist, Scott Shriner also of Weezer, but was playing it off like he wasn’t. After their second and last song, the judges each gave their take. Travie reiterated my comparison to 3OH!3, which was closer to home for him as he recently was on tour with them. Swizz Beatz, who must have felt sympathetic towards the guys, said he thought they were original and interacted well with their audience.
Next up were the It Boys! These guys were hands down my favorite of the night. They were in tune with the crowd and genuinely looked like they were having a blast on stage. They began with a voiceover introduction with lines like, “You in the back, stop talking!” Coincidently, I was in the back….talking. Their stage presence was electrifying and their energy was bouncing off the walls. Travie later described their set as starting out with awesome foreplay to making out to relaxed sex, citing the intro as his favorite part. Swizz, on the other hand, thought that though their songs were great that their choreography on stage needed work. He also commented that the drummer needed to tone down the craziness and overall they needed better organization.
Lastly Steve Liriks took the stage. Originally, I believe he is a solo artist, but he seemed to have a guest singer along with a live backing band. It felt like this might be the first time they all performed together. Vocals were all over the place and their sound and attitude were dull. Maybe not the best choice to collaborate when your trying to win a VMA title. They were the last act to battle it out and it was time for the judges to deliberate—which did not take long at all.
All bands and the judges took the stage with DJ Scribble presiding. After saying the “Everyone did an amazing job” speech, the winner was announced. Despite being a cookie cutter group, The Devine conquered the night and won the 2010 Best Breakout LA Artist MTV VMA.
Everyone was ushered off the stage and it was time for hosts and guest DJs, Gabe Saporta and Ryland Blackinton of Cobra Starship to take their spot in the DJ booth while NeverShoutNever got ready to take the stage. The sponsors of the night were Taco Bell with their Feed the Beat campaign. From this point on, servers came through the crowd serving tacos.
I ran into Chris (NeverShoutNever) before he was ready to go on and he was really cool and seemed stoked to be playing even taking the time to take pictures with fans—and there were plenty of them present. He had everyone’s attention when he began his set. As always he entertained us with stories in between songs. His set list included “Harmony”, “Love is Our Weapon”, “I Just Laugh”, “I Love You 5”, “Can’t Stand It”, “Cheater Cheater Best Friend Eater”, “This Shit Getz Old” and “Bigcitydreams”.
During intermission more tacos were served while Gabe and Ryland spun the beats often playing the Taco Bell dong sound—which was starting to become obnoxious. After a generous amount of time, the last act and MTV Video Music Award nominee, Jason Derulo took the stage singing his hits, “In My Head”, “Whatcha Say” and “Ridin’ Solo”. I was pleasantly surprised that he was such a captivating performer. He had dancers with him and they were all spot on with the choreography. The crowd was really into him, showing him a lot of love. He thanked everyone before his last song and quickly left the stage after it was over.
While the crowd dispersed many stayed behind while the Cobra Starship boys continued throwing out songs like, “Teach Me How to Dougie” [California Swag District], “Bulletproof” [La Roux] and my personal favorite, “I Can’t Dance” [Dirt Nasty feat. LMFAO] that Gabe dedicated to “All My Jews” in celebration of the Jewish New Year.
As the night dwindled away, nothing was left on the dance floor, but leftover tacos. The stragglers, including myself, seemed to be Cobra Starship fans. Gabe, being a good sport, jumped down from the DJ booth obliging to pictures and engaging in humorous poses. The affair, all in all ,was a fun filled experience with plenty of celebrity cameos, snacks and engaging entertainment all ending before midnight.