Flume, Sivan, Crowded House Dominate ARIAs

Sydney-based electronic music producer Flume and Perth singer-songwriter Troye Sivan were among the major winners at the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards, at Sydney’s Star Event Centre Nov. 23.  

To celebrate the awards’ 30th anniversary and to mark 2016 setting a new record for most amount of No. 1 Australian albums on the ARIA chart, (a total of 17) the music body pulled out all stops for its flagship event.

Among highlights was the induction of Crowded House into the ARIA hall of fame, after singers Missy Higgins and Bernard Fanning paid tribute with symphonic versions of Crowded House songs. The band – Neil Finn, Nick Seymour, Paul Hester, Mark Hart and Matt Sherrod – were initiated by Flight of the Conchords comedic duo Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement who purported to have a message from New Zealand’s prime minister asking to stop the induction as Finn was a New Zealander and not Australian.

Crowded House later had the crowd to its feet with a rendition of 1993’s “Distant Sun.” The show began with The Veronicas bringing their album cover artwork to life with a performance in just red latex pants and red body glitter. Veteran R&B singer Jimmy Barnes and indigenous soul vocalist Jessica Mauboy teamed up for on The Easybeats’ “Good Times,” which Barnes cut with INXS in 1987, and which Mauboy covered on the chart topping soundtrack of her high-rating drama TV series “The Secret Daughter.”

Rapper Illy and rising singer-songwriter Vera Blues joined up for the triple platinum “Papercuts” off his chart-topping album Two Degrees. The night ended with veteran singer John Farnham performing his global hit “You’re The Voice.”

Flume, who toured North America and Europe extensively this year, won five awards. He took out best male while his Australian No. 1 album Skin scooped up album of the year, best independent album and best dance release. His hit single “Never Be Like You”, certified four times platinum Down Under, won best pop release. Canadian performer Kai, who featured on the track, accompanied him onstage.

While picking up one of his trophies, Flume urged the New South Wales government to scrap the contentious Sydney lockout laws. “I want to give a big thank you to the venues, especially the small venues….because that’s what’s getting shut down,” he said. “To our policy makers and politicians, please keep Sydney open.” Troye Sivan’s performance was introduced by surprise guest Kylie Minogue and her fiancé Joshua Sasse who took to the stage sporting “Say I Do Down Under” T-shirts to show support for marriage equality in Australia.

Sivan won best video and song of the year, the latter presented to him by Robbie Williams who was in the country to perform on the grand finale of “The X Factor Australia” the night before. Brisbane rock band Violent Soho were also dual winners, for best group and rock album for WACO. One Direction took best international act over Adele, Coldplay, Beyoncé, Drake, Meghan Trainor, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, twenty one pilots, and The Weeknd.

Among other winners were Sia (best female artist), Hilltop Hoods (best Australian live act), Montaigne (breakthrough artist), Drapht (urban album), Bernard Fanning (best adult contemporary album), Sarah Blasko (best adult alternative album), Sara Storer (best country album), King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (best hard rock / metal album), Russell Morris (best blues & roots album) and The Wiggles (best children’s album).

Receiving the Industry Icon award was the godfather of the Australian independent music scene, Sebastian Chase.

After kick-starting the careers of bands such as Rose Tattoo, Dragon, Cold Chisel and The Reels as club promoter and artist manager, Chase set up a series of labels that strengthened the independent scene.

His current MGM Distribution label was set up so that acts including John Butler, The Waifs, The Whitlams and The Beautiful Girls ran as self-sufficient private companies, which allowed them to earn more royalties than many major label acts.

The ARIA awards, telecast on the free-to-air Ten Network, drew an overnight rating of 586,000 metro viewers – its biggest audience since 2010. It was the 10th-most watched show of the night.