Celebrating its 12th anniversary, the OC Music Awards kicks off on January 8th with eight weeks of free showcases at different venues across the county. 35 local artists will compete for the titles of Best Live Band and a performance slot at the 2013 OC Music Awards, March 9th at the City National Grove of Anaheim.

Bundled up and with tea in hand against the chill night at the District at Tustin Legacy is our favorite way to watch a show, especially one with the mellow, heartwrenching vibes of the five bands that played Tuesday night for the second OC Music Awards showcase.

With floral headpiece firmly in place, the redheaded vixen Annie McQueen was the opener. Donning a faux fur cape and a dramatic, sweeping floral jacket, McQueen vacillated between cutesy and gutsy in her performance, using her eyes to communicate as effortlessly as a trained Bollywood star. Her glam-country vibe played gracefully off her booze-drenched lyrics and her sweet ‘n sassy personality.

Equally as dichotomous, Becky Holt’s sugary soft singing and her sardonic personality matched easily with her dark lyrics, but upbeat instrumentation. She switched between guitar and harmonica, during breaks chatting with the audience in her usual quippy way about her suicidal song and taking a picture of the audience to prove to her parents she is actually a musician.

Making us jealous that we never had such an artistic and intimate relationship as truly-acoustic musical duo, Cherokee Fade, Kevin Yoches and Erin Rose Belair, who someone noted looks like Emmy Rossum, reeled us in with their raw singer-songwriter style and the fact they were always looking at each other sweetly.  With bedroom eyes and a low tempo demeanor, Cherokee Fade could have been busking in the street, playing a huge venue, or crooning softly to each other within the confines of each other’s arms.

Either way, it doesn’t matter; the bond is as strong as the artistry. Alice Wallace took the stage right after with a completely different vibe; polished, vibrant, and with a voice as rich as the sun that her recordings don’t accurately capture, Wallace could easily be a nationally-popular soft rock country queen.

Last, singer-songwriter Justin Soileau took the stage. We saw him two years ago playing his first show for the OC Music Awards in 2011 and he’s made quite a change since then. Infinitely more composed and confident, Soileau is a truly sincere artist; despite his shy demeanor, you can feel all of his thoughts bubbling to the surface of each song, ready to pop, and spread their message through the world.

Check out pictures from the night below!

–Nadia Noir, KROQ Los Angeles

Check out all the interviews from Week 2 here:

The 2013 Showcase Series runs every Tuesday night, January 8th-February 26th with stops at:

Jan 8 – Detroit Bar

Jan 15 – The District at Tustin Legacy

Jan 22 – The Slide Bar

Jan 29 – Constellation Room

Feb 5 – Tiki Bar

Feb 12 – Founders Hall

Feb 19 – Yost Theater

Feb 26 – House of Blues-Anaheim




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