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Jamboree: Four Lukewarm Takes on The VNZMAs (+ VIDEO)

In a special edition of Jamboree, our weekly gossip column, four Spinoff cub reporters share their experiences of the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards:

José Barbosa From His Living Room:

Alex Casey From the Truly Vile Livestream:

“A limo’s pulling up, a limo’s pulling up,” Bella Henry exclaimed to her co-host Gwen Taylor “….it’s… Rachel…” A forced calm came across their faces, not unlike that poor man getting his brains eaten in Hannibal, as they waved across the carpet to – I assume – Rachel Glucina. I’d raced home to catch the red carpet coverage of the VNZMAs, also known as a live stream of nervous photographers flitting about in chinos in front of a Mentos banner.

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“This is scary,” Bella Henry says to Gwen, “I just have no idea what to say.” The red carpet was often sparse, so Bella and Gwen took to describing people milling about in the crowd. “She is just everyone’s idol barbie”, Bella said, of a blonde woman scuttling past. A group of normals took the podium to have a giant banter-filled chat about coming to work late the next morning and “who they are wearing” (the answer is never an actual human). Turns out they’re all Paul Henry staffers. Moving on.

“I’m not actually wearing a bra, they are out and about tonight” Bella warns, giving a small jiggle. Two Harveys and a Puru jump into shot. “Your dress is good because you get a little titty there as well”, Bella applauds Jay Jay. I check my drinking game list, and realise that I’m actually not going to last the hour.

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Dom has shaved ‘11’ into his eyebrow, Jay Jay jokes she has done the same to her pubic hair. More of these gross sex jokes riffing off a very-recently-deceased-man would come later in the evening. In their down time, Bella started to reveal more and more about her dieting habits. “I have been starving myself for days and I still think I look fat,” she says straight down the camera, unblinking beneath the bright lights. I was caught off guard by this tragic admission, this is some serious Black Mirror shit.

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“Oh my GOD”, Bella screams. Who is it Bella?! Is it Lorde?! Is it Jay Jay’s Lomu tribute? “I’ve just seen someone who looks like my sister!” I sloshed some more beer back, immediately disregarding all my drinking game rules. Art and Matilda showed up. Matilda looked radiant, Art looked like he just been woken up from a 200 year nap and been dropped into his suit using that machine in Wallace and Gromit. But you know, still good. “They won’t last long” Bella says, clearly having an episode of starvation-induced hallucinations.

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Between selfies, Bella shared more about her current detox, and the daily pills she has to take. “Natural pills” she insists, fearful of being accused of being a druggie but 100% a-okay with revealing that they make her craps fully loose. Bowel movement chat, now that’s how you do red carpet banter. She’s clearly absolutely famished, taking time to list things she wants to eat. “Large ribs, poutine, onion rings.”

Sharyn Casey reveals that her biggest concern is falling off her plinth, breaking her back, “and everyone’s too drunk to help me.” Shit this country has a hard-out drinking problem! Bella and Gwen ask how they can help her if this happens. “I’ll be fine as long as someone brings me a beer”, Sharyn laughs. I close my drinking game window and put my down my own beer: I am clearly part of the problem.

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“Everyone’s just waiting to have a drink”, Bella says, before realising that Lorde is about to grace the red carpet. It’s mayhem, it’s hell, they haven’t prepared any questions outside of “what’s it like to touch Taylor Swift?” Suddenly, I’m fearful for these two. I know what it’s like to feel unprepared for an interview, to start sweating and regretting every joke question and every choice you’ve made in your life to get you to that exact point. They decide to can the interview, and go straight for a selfie.

“Should we put our mics down so she knows we’re not interviewing??” Bella hurriedly asks someone off camera. “Yes” they spit back. This is intense, I lean forward on the couch waiting to see if they will catch the big one. Meanwhile Karen Walker, Stevie Tonks and Maria Tutaia walk past. They are going all in on Lorde, putting all their laxatives into the one basket.

Lorde graciously greets fans, and breezes right past Bella and Gwen as they try to wring at least one selfie out of this dried-up husk of an opportunity. “We need a drink now… maybe a protein shake,” Bella laughs, still fixated on people knowing about her clean, green, poop-friendly lifestyle. Gwen tries to wrap things up, and Bella gives her summary of their first red carpet. “I’d call it… terribly tragic. And good.”

Calum Henderson From the Nosebleeds:

A lanyard and four drink tokens for the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards arrived via courier on Wednesday.

There is a sort of deeply undeserved sense of entitlement that comes with wearing a lanyard, and I envisioned this one – ‘Enhanced GA’ – allowing me to sail around Vector Arena as if I owned the place, or at least held some kind of stake in it. I imagined myself greedily necking bottles of booze, pigging out on pulled pork sliders, being within touching distance of literally hundreds of elite New Zealand celebrities.

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If I had stood up from my designated seat (S46) and hiffed my cup of beer as hard as I could I reckon I probably could have hit Jay Jay, Mike and Dom. That’s as close as ‘Enhanced GA’ gets you to the celebs scoffing free food and drink and taking selfies with each other at the tables below.

Despite having a lanyard I was, quite rightly, a nobody. For a while, on the vast upper concourse, I was the only body. I arrived before most of the celebrities had even touched the red carpet and was immediately segregated from my only friend, ‘VIP’ Duncan Greive, by one of the approximately one thousand event staff.

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The upper concourse at Vector Arena is one of the loneliest places on earth. I did two full laps under the hawkish gaze of the ushers and security. It was completely empty apart from one of those donut carts and a photo backdrop thing sponsored by Maybelline which seemed like it had been left there by mistake.

I took my seat and watched the tables fill up. It was weirdly enjoyable, sort of like a live action Where’s Wally. Ooh, I found Mike Puru! He’s wearing a bow tie! Who’s that man wearing a costume from the movie The Dictator? (It was the comedian ‘Chopper’.) Hey it’s Stevie Tonks, the screaming guy from X Factor!

I took some time to watch a genius at work. The Herald’s diminutive party photo guru Norrie Montgomery was in his element, traversing the celebrity jungle with three enormous cameras slung over his shoulders. He got a nice shot of Jay Jay and Dom with All Black Aaron Smith, then quickly engineered a funny one of Dom ‘photobombing’ Jay Jay. Mike Puru took a selfie in front of the stage.

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Back on the concourse things were starting to liven up. Somehow this made it even worse than when it had been completely empty. I felt like I was in the IMAX food court – a handful of people were dressed up for a nice night out, but mostly the concourse crowd was a mix of kids, schlubs in hoodies or shorts, and one man wearing a Warriors jersey.

This was thirsty work. I craned my neck over the bar to see what kind of craft beer they had in the fridge – maybe I’d watch the VNZMAs with a nice oatmeal stout. The only option was Heineken. Around this point Shannon Ryan’s voice started hissing over the PA for everyone to take their seats, so I retired to S46 with my cup of lager.

After about a quarter of the ceremony I needed to go to the toilet. The men’s were still in reasonably good condition – a few puddles of urine on the floor but nothing too confronting. On the way back I grabbed another cup of beer, but at the top of the aisle something caused me to stop in my tracks. There was a man sitting in my seat.

In retrospect it was actually a really good seat. I don’t know who the man sitting in it was, but I can only assume he deserved it more than me. It was his seat now. I went back out onto the concourse and drifted aimlessly, weighing up my options. I stuck my head through a couple of doors but the stands suddenly seemed much fuller than they had just moments before.

I reckon I spent a good 20 minutes just wandering, paranoid that an over-attentive usher was going to try and usher me back to my seat and cause an unnecessary confrontation with the man in S46. Eventually I settled in an area which could euphemistically be described as ‘The Gods’; pessimistically, ‘the cheap seats.’ From up here the tables appeared shrouded in a kind of smog.

Hunger drove me back out onto the dreaded concourse before too long. I grabbed the last battered hot dog from the warmer, then hesitated. “There’s no way this is worth $5,” went one train of thought. “But I’m so hungry…” moaned the other. I hesitated for so long that to put it back would have simply been bad manners. The sympathetic smile of the woman operating the till felt like an unspoken acknowledgement that this was definitely a complete rort.

I found a new, even further away seat from which to watch the end of the ceremony. From here I saw the event’s two biggest celebrities – Lorde and Mick Fleetwood – present awards, but they were too far away to realistically class as ‘sightings.’

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The event ran late, and I began to feel very tired. From the space between wake and sleep it briefly appeared as if Brooke and Mitch from The Block had somehow won the prestigious prize for Album of the Year. Probably, on some bleak subconscious level, this was my greatest wish at that moment in time.

Outside Vector Arena a fleet of rickshaws was waiting to ferry guests to their next appointment. As they sped off, one blasted a Lynyrd Skynyrd song, while from another, I overheard a snatch of conversation between the driver and a man in an expensive suit. “Yeah,” the man in the suit seemed to be agreeing, “we ARE cool cats!”

Duncan Greive From the Cheap Expensive Seats:

“I absolutely hate this,” said an otherwise personable agency owner sitting alongside of me, “it’s so embarrassing.” He was talking about Savage and his nice friend Timothy Trumpet, who were on-stage asking that timeless question, “where the freaks at?”

It’s the kind of song which makes the beardy real instruments guys grimace and wonder what happened to musicianship and craft and that. But it was my favourite part of the night, loud and weird and energetic. Savage and Sol3 Mio and Devilskin were reminders of what actual New Zealanders like to listen to, not the fancy music which judges and critics think is good.

My table was all 35+ white men, mostly current or former judges, our weathered faces meant we were smartly perched as far away from cameras as possible. We kinda knew that we were hanging onto our VIP status by a thread. But while our view wasn’t that flash, food was the great equaliser. Even at table 134B we ate the same as Lorde and Mick Fleetwood.

I realised part way through that what looked in the dim arena lights like deviled eggs was in fact SIX large balls of mozzarella. Every time my companions were lost in conversation I would sneak another.

By the end I had stolen five – more mozzarella balls than Broods won Tuis. A huge win for me.Screenshot 2015-11-20 at 3.58.32 PM

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