Last night, July 21, was the inaugural AP Music Awards, and it was certainly a night for the ages. Nearly 300,000 ballots were cast by music lovers all around the world, and when the results were tallied, there were some clear patterns: The world really, really loves Pierce The Veil, All Time Low and Bring Me The Horizon, who combined took home seven Skullys out of an available 12. In fact, it was only fitting that Pierce The Veil won Best Live Band on the same night they announced an impending world tour with Sleeping With Sirens (who performed a blistering set of "If You Can't Hang" and "Alone" featuring Machine Gun Kelly earlier in the night), an event which is sure to be sold out everywhere. Pierce also took home trophies for Best Bassist and Best Drummer. (Photo: Graham Fielder)
The night kicked off with a rousing rendition of all six Song Of The Year nominees performed by Cleveland's Contemporary Youth Orchestra, followed by Brendon Urie officially opening the show with a Frank Sinatra tribute set that easily made Old Blue Eyes proud. Urie graced the stage a little bit later in the night, taking home the Skully for Best Vocalist.
Urie wasn't the only musician to perform with the CYO; Falling In Reverse laid down a killer cover of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" with help from the orchestra, Issues' Tyler Carter and none other than Coolio himself, in the first of many surprise collaborations all night.
In fact, the night was full of musicians rubbing elbows with their friends and idols, and no performance better exemplified that than All Time Low, who teased the crowd with the intro to "Dear Maria, Count Me In" before letting Ryan Key and Sean Mackin of Yellowcard storm the stage for a riotous performance of "Lights And Sounds." Of course, ATL weren't done there; they segued into the New Found Glory classic "All Downhill From Here," featuring none other than Jordan Pundik and Chad Gilbert of NFG (sporting custom T-shirts featuring bassist Ian Grushka and drummer Cyrus Bolooki, natch). Of course, the fun didn't stop there; as soon as "Downhill" wrapped up, Pierce The Veil's Vic Fuentes popped up out of nowhere to lay down his guest vocals on the Song Of The Year-winning "A Love Like War," capping off an absolutely showstopping medley. ATL also won the Artist Philanthropic Award for their work with Skate4Cancer, dedicating the Skully to Rob Dyer's unending charity work.
Bring Me The Horizon frontman Oli Sykes made the trip across the pond to attend the APMAs and he didn't leave empty-handed; BMTH won both Best International Band and, in an incredibly powerful moment, Album Of The Year for Sempiternal. During Sykes' acceptance speech, he mentioned he had been secretly struggling with an addiction to ketamine and even entered rehab unbeknownst to fans, but that when he emerged clean and sober, he was inspired to make Sempiternal.
Two-time AP cover stars Crown The Empire clinched the Breakthrough Band Skully on the eve of their sophomore album's release—talk about perfect timing! In their acceptance speech, frontman Andy Leo profusely thanked both the band's fanbase as well as their families and friends who continue to support the band when they're out on the road for 300-plus days a year.
The Best Guitarist Skully was won by Of Mice & Men's Phil Manansala, who unfortunately was unable to attend the award show due to a prior commitment. Instead of taking Ice-T's advice from earlier in the night and "throwing it in the damn lake," presenters Keith Buckley and Andy Williams from Every Time I Die graciously (and humorously) accepted the award on his behalf.
One of the most heartwarming moments of the evening was when Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides was given the Skully for Most Dedicated Fans, to which he proclaimed this award wasn't his, it was the BVB Army's—before hopping offstage, trophy in hand, and presented it to a very lucky fan. Later that night, he was invited onstage by legendary horror-punk mavericks the Misfits for a slam-bang set of punk classics such as "Dig Up Her Bones," "Die Die My Darling" and "We Are 138," proving that no one is ever too old or too famous to be a fan, first and foremost.
There was more than just contemporary rock in attendance, though: Slash not only received the first-ever Guitar Legend Award (presented by none other than surprise special guest Joe Perry from Aerosmith!), but he later took the stage with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts for a down-and-dirty cover of the Rolling Stones' "Star Star." Jett also collaborated with Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace on her new single "Soulmates To Strangers," which the two frontwomen wrote together. (Grace also presented Jett with the Icon Award earlier in the night, quoting an entry from her diary from the 2006 Warped Tour, where she first met Jett and wrote about how she was "so fucking cool.") The final special Skully, the Vanguard Award, was presented to Smashing Pumpkins visionary Billy Corgan by pro wrestling icon CM Punk, who opened his speech by calling him "a fucking god" and closed it by passing the torch on his own iconic catchphrase, labeling Corgan "the best in the world."
The night also featured a slew of special collaborative performances, from Ben Barlow of Neck Deep joining A Day To Remember on "Right Back At It Again" to Michael Bohn from Issues screaming his head off during twenty one pilots' "Car Radio" to Korn's Jonathan Davis appearing with Asking Alexandria for a fun romp through Duran Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf." But the set that truly brought the house down had to be Body Count, the heavy metal band fronted by gangsta rap icon Ice-T, who knocked the crowd for a loop with "There Goes The Neighborhood" and "Talk Shit = Get Shot."
While Fall Out Boy didn't luck out in any of the earlier categories they were nominated in, all was forgiven when the Overcast Kids voted FOB to the top of the Artist Of The Year category. Saves The Day's Chris Conley cheered Patrick, Pete, Joe and Andy on as they accepted the Skully, then Conley and his own bandmates took the mic moments later to re-introduce FOB to the crowd. After a symphony-assisted version of "The Phoenix" closed the APMAs out, the 6,000-strong crowd began to head home, still in awe at all the magic that took place in the backyard of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame—and wondering just when the 2015 APMAs tickets would go onsale.
A full list of winners is below:
Best Vocalist presented by Victory Records – Brendon Urie, Panic! At The Disco
Best Live Band presented by Vans Warped Tour – Pierce The Veil
Breakthrough Band presented by Beats Music – Crown The Empire
Best Bassist presented by Dyin 2 Live – Jaime Preciado, Pierce The Veil
Best International Band presented by Zepeda Brothers Productions – Bring Me The Horizon
Artist Philanthropic Award presented by Sub City/Take Action – All Time Low
Best Guitarist presented by Gibson – Phil Manansala, Of Mice & Men
Vanguard Award presented by AXS TV – Billy Corgan
Best Drummer presented by DW Drums – Mike Fuentes, Pierce The Veil
Icon Award presented by Blackstar Amplification – Joan Jett
Most Dedicated Fans presented by Fearless Records – Black Veil Brides
Guitar Legend Award presented by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Slash
Song Of The Year presented by Epitaph Records – All Time Low w/Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil
Album Of The Year presented by Journeys – Bring Me The Horizon, Sempiternal
Artist Of The Year presented by Monster Energy – Fall Out Boy