The only downside to the concert, which featured indie darlings McKay, Dizzee Rascal, Eagles of Death Metal and TV On The Radio was that it was almost too much. Being an awards show, the entire night felt like the Oscars—sure I love movies, but after three hours of Billy Crystal’s shtick I’m pretty tapped out. The concert began around 8 p.m., and by 11 when TV On The Radio went on, feet were standing instead of dancing.
However, the energy reverberated when the winner of the Shortlist Music Prize, "prizing artistic merit and creative integrity over sales and giving a loud and clear voice to today’s most influential emerging artists", was announced. Shocked applause greeted the winner’s name, as most of the audience expected Franz Ferdinand to take the $10,000 prize.
But, it was Brooklyn trio TV On The Radio that took the stage for their winning album Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes, joining previous winners Damien Rice, N.E.R.D. and Sigur Ros. For an outside group they gave quite an insider response: "We didn’t expect to be nominated, let alone win. None of us expected this to happen, and we’re really happy to be here."
TV On The Radio’s win begged the question if XM and MTV2, sponsors of the award, saved the best for last or wanted to open strong. If the prize was simply for live performance, Nellie McKay - an amalgam of the Capitol Steps, Phil Ochs and, at times, Richard Wagner - deserved to win. As her fingers slammed on her keyboard like Wagner on speed, the audience went into a kind of impressed stupor. No apologies from Nellie were necessary, though I expect she can expect a Hallmark card from TV On The Radio very soon.