Arcade Fire Wins 2011 Polaris Music Prize!

Last night the winner of a $30,000 award was decided upon and announced at the 2011 Polaris Music Prize Gala. Held at Toronto's Masonic Temple, the gala opened with an awesome mashup of nominees (seen above) and went on to include live performances by 6 of the 10 shortlisted nominees: Ron Sexsmith, Austra, Timber Timbre, Galaxie, BRAIDS, and Hey, Rosetta!
The interesting thing about this gala was that the winner of the prize was actually being decided upon as the event unfolded. Very exciting stuff. Personally I had my money on BRAIDS, a group based out of Montreal by way of Calgary. Their performance was by far the stand-out of the night. While every band was amazing, during this set you could literally hear a pin drop. Everyone's faces were glued to the stage, a few literally gaping in awe of the music (mine included).
But of course, Arcade Fire was the front-runner and it was no big surprise that they took the award home at the end of the night. As one of the MC's jested while announcing the nominees, the nine bands standing against Arcade Fire were the "nine other dark horses". But this wasn't based on sales or previous awards won, though obvious biases were unavoidable (aahem, Grammy winners..). The Polaris Prize prides itself on being based on a consideration of artistic merit of an entire album. And really, if you've ever listened to The Suburbs from start to finish you can see why it needed to win.
Win and Will Butler Accept 2011 Polaris Music Prize on behalf of Arcade Fire
Though Arcade Fire did not perform, brothers Win and Will Butler graciously accepted the $30,000 check on behalf of the band. When asked what they might do with the money, casually (and half-jokingly) invited every musician in the room to come record in their Montreal studio! Now that's the kind of down-to-earth camaraderie that makes Canadian music great. Congrats Arcade Fire.