The televised Michael Bublé-hosted portion of the 2013 Juno Awards in Regina may be The Big Show, but Saturday's non-televised gala dinner is where many of the big-deal awards are actually handed out — including categories-to-watch such as Pop Album of the Year, R&B/Soul Recording, Rap Recording, Alternative Recording and Breakout Artist of the Year.
Or, you know, Artist of the Year, which also shockingly wasn't televised. Elder statesman Leonard Cohen justly took that prize for his album "Old Ideas." Carly Rae Jepsen's victory over the Biebs in the Pop Album of the Year category was also not televised.
Toronto producer The Weeknd, a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye, was one of the night's big winner, snagging both R&B/Soul Recording of the year as well as Breakthrough Artist of the Year on the strength of "Trilogy," a compilation of his three independent mixtapes. The win doubtless comes as a sweet bit of justice for the vocal people of the Internet who felt his 2011 debut, "House Of Balloons" was robbed of the 2011 Polaris Music Prize by Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" and wasn't even allowed consideration by the Junos that year because it was a free mixtape. The Weeknd had stiff competition in the form of Cold Specks' career-making debut "I Predict A Grateful Expulsion" and Grimes' "Visions."
"Visions" did win Electronic Album of the Year in an incredibly strong category that included big albums from Crystal Castles, Daphi, Purity Ring and Trust.
It was also a big night for synth-pop superstars Metric. The band won Alternative Album of the year as well as Recording Package of the Year. Guitarist Jimmy Shaw also deservedly won Producer of the Year. Emily Haines often gets the credit for being the creative visionary in the group, but Shaw plays as a big a role.
The award for Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year went to Windsor, Ont. metal act Woods of Ypres' final album "Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light." It's a bittersweet win. Frontman David Gold died in a car accident driving home for Christmas in 2011.
"It's great to end on a high note — David's music deserves that kind of acclaim," said bandmate Joel Violette backstage during an emotional backstage Q&A. "David was to Woods of Ypres as Dave Grohl is to the Foo Fighters." Gold's mother delivered a poignant acceptance speech onstage and accepted her son's award with tears in her eyes.
Funniest acceptance speech of the night was a tie. The first goes to Nova Scotia MC Classified, who snagged the trophy for Rap Recording of the Year for "Inner Ninja ft. David Myles."
"I just won my first Juno award on 4/20 so I'm a very happy guy."
And he was ready to party.
"I'm already half in the bag with my wine," he added backstage.
The second goes to Rose Cousins, whose affecting "We Have Made A Spark" was crowned Solo Roots & Traditional Album of the Year, beating out fellow East Coasters Old Man Luedecke and Amelia Curran.
"My earrings are from Shoppers Drug Mart," Cousins blurted when she got to the podium. "I just threw up in my mouth a little."
Tom Cochrane proved he's the nicest man in Canada with a genuine, heartfelt and very Canadian acceptance speech that reminded the music industry that it shouldn't separate consciousness and commerce. He was humble, too.
"It's strange to get an award for trying to do the right thing from time to time."