Over the last few years, the Grammys and their millions of viewers have gotten well acquainted with Brandi Carlile, the ballad slayer. But did they know — I mean really know — Brandi Carlile, the ferocious, no-bull, muddy-booted, butt-kicking rock star?
If they didn’t, they sure as heck do now.
Shortly into the 65th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Carlile and her rowdy friends — including longtime bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth and esteemed Seattle drummer Matt Chamberlain — stampeded through her fierce, dusty canyon rocker “Broken Horses” after an adorable intro from Carlile’s wife, Catherine, and their two daughters.
But there was nothing cutesy about the ensuing throwdown with a song that sweats motor oil — and had already won two awards. It’s a wonder Harry Styles didn’t flip a table and start a mosh pit with the Coldplay guy.
One of the Grammys’ leading nominees this year with seven total nods, the Maple Valley folk rocker (emphasis on the rock) literally and figuratively rocked “music’s biggest night” at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
By the time the televised ceremony began, Carlile had already bagged three awards, starting the day with a celebratory headbang during the daytime Premiere Ceremony where most of the awards are dealt.
“Rock ‘n’ roll!” Carlile hollered after she and the Hanseroth twins made their first afternoon march to the podium to accept the best rock performance award as the house band played Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name.” “Oh, I cannot tell you how much this means to us. We were born and raised in Seattle and when I met these guys 22 years ago, we decided to get in a van and be a band together, and I met them and they were covered in Ramones tattoos, they had never even played an acoustic guitar. And then this happened.”
Among the usual acknowledgments to her team, bandmates, and others, Carlile added a thank you to “everybody in Seattle that made us want to strive for this incredible accolade.”
A minute later, the trio returned to accept the best rock song honor, where they faced legacy rockers Ozzy Osbourne and Red Hot Chili Peppers and indie favorites The War on Drugs and Turnstile.
“Oh my God, this is amaaaazing!” a floored Carlile exclaimed. “Oh, I’ll never be the same. My mom’s out there, Teresa Carlile. Mom, I gotta thank you for telling me to stop singing so angry because I obviously ignored that like I ignored everything you ever told me to do. But I cut my hair and I learned how to scream and I just won a Grammy for a rock ‘n’ roll song that I wrote with all my heart.”
While those were Carlile’s first rock nominations, she had notched another three this year in her Americana/roots home base. After losing out to “my hero” Bonnie Raitt for best Americana performance and best American roots song, Carlile’s name was called again, with “In These Silent Days” winning best Americana album.
“Damn, I thought Bonnie was about to sweep!” a still-giddy Carlile exclaimed, having walked through another gauntlet of hugs en route to the stage.
“We recorded this album in one room, one place, live,” she said. “We kept first or second takes, we kept our hearts right on our sleeve. And it means everything to me to win this in Americana, which is my community that I love so much.”
Although Carlile — who also popped up during commercial breaks in a Hilton ad with her kids — has been stacking awards the last few years, she came into the show looking for her first win in one of the three most prestigious categories. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards with Styles winning album of the year and Lizzo’s feel-good banger “About Damn Time” besting Carlile’s Paul Simon-esque love song “You and Me on the Rock” for record of the year.
Beyond Carlile’s three wins, other artists with local ties weren’t as fortunate on Sunday. Seattle electronic stars ODESZA might have had a decent shot at taking home their first Grammy had they not run into some illustrious competition. Instead, the genre-weaving producer duo graciously became a historical footnote, as Beyoncé won best dance/electronic music album over their cinematic dance-floor shaker “The Last Goodbye” to become the most awarded artist in Grammys history. (The pop superstar entered the day tied with Garfield High School alum Quincy Jones for second.)
The Grammys are about the performances as much as they are awards, and a well-done in memoriam segment opened with Kacey Musgraves delivering a heartfelt tribute to country great (and onetime Washingtonian) Loretta Lynn. The only downer was the absence of Modest Mouse drummer Jeremiah Green and Screaming Trees co-founder Van Conner in the photo reel honoring musicians and industry folks who passed away this year.
Earlier in the day, singer-songwriter Zach Bryan, a Navy vet who was stationed in Washington when his career exploded, lost best country solo performance to one of the genre’s true legends, Willie Nelson.
Recorded at Woodinville’s fabled Bear Creek Studio, Bryan’s heart-wrenching “Something in the Orange” became a streaming monster with little support from country radio. Bryan, who doesn’t consider himself a country singer, has been one of music’s coolest breakout stories since being honorably discharged in 2021, immediately playing to throngs of fervent fans across the country. The Oklahoma native and former Whidbey Island resident was an egregious snub in the best new artist category, likely because he’s kept the Nashville establishment at arm’s length.
“Grandpa used to talk about Willie for hours, never been such a pleasure to lose to someone!” wrote Bryan, who’s as prolific a tweeter as he is a songwriter, on social media.
Perfume Genius, the creative vehicle of Seattle/L.A. art-pop vet Mike Hadreas, was up for best alternative music performance for his cameo on Yeah Yeah Yeahs comeback single “Spitting Off the Edge of the World.” Instead, the prize went to buzzy U.K. band Wet Leg, one of the highlights at last summer’s THING festival, with their quirky indie-rock hit “Chaise Longue.”
Elsewhere, “Chloe and the Next 20th Century,” the latest album from former Seattleite and current Sub Pop star Father John Misty, was up for an engineering award, losing to the crew that worked on Styles’ “Harry’s House.” And Shawn Okpebholo’s “Lord, How Come Me Here?” featuring Lakewood-reared opera singer J’Nai Bridges, was unable to bring home the award for best classical solo vocal album.
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