It was a mixed bag for Pittsburgh artists at the 2018 Grammy Awards last Sunday night. Local hardcore group Code Orange lost out to Mastodon for Best Metal Performance; the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra won Best Orchestral Performance for its recording of Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5; Barber: Adagio.”
For Pittsburgh’s Jeff Betten, general manager of Misra Records and chief operating officer at Wild Kindness Records, who attended the Grammys show in New York City, the experience was a mix of exciting and boring, interesting and predictable. If you followed along with his live-tweets throughout the night, you already know his thoughts on Bono and his performance with Kendrick Lamar (he did not like it).
CP caught up with Betten via email the day after the soiree to unpack the experience.
Was this your first time at the Grammys? How does one get invited?
Yeah, this was my first time! I was actually invited as a member of The Recording Academy last year, but traveling to L.A. is kind of a drag for me. That it was in New York this year basically left me with no excuses.
Did you dress for comfort or style? I feel like I’d get antsy sitting there for that long.
So, this is something that I learned this weekend ... rented tuxes are surprisingly comfortable! To answer the question, it was style and comfort in this instance.
You live-tweeted the whole night. Was that your plan all along?
No, that just happened because I was starting to get bored with Lady Gaga’s performance and the vast majority of the show failed to win back my attention. I figured I’d at least try to entertain folks with something of a “behind-the-scenes” account.
What’s the most surprising thing about attending the Grammys?
Everyone was singing the words off of a TelePrompTer! With a few notable exceptions, it was pretty shocking. You’d think that if you didn’t already know the words to “Tears in Heaven” or “Wildflowers” then you’d be damn sure to learn them if you were going to take part in a Grammys tribute.
Weird question of personal interest. What is the food situation like?
There’s free food and drink at the after-party, but there wasn’t anything available during the actual ceremony at Madison Square Garden. We were all pretty hungry by the time Bruno Mars took home the last award of the night.
Menu was pretty much all comfort food, as far as I could tell ... mac-and-cheese, fried chicken, pulled pork. Absolut sponsored the open bar, so it was pretty much all vodka mixed drinks. It was hard to get drunk because the lines were pretty long.
What was the best performance of the night?
Best performance for my money was Childish Gambino (who didn’t use a TelePrompTer, by the way).
Who would you have picked for the big categories?
Kendrick and Lorde were absolutely robbed. I would have let them split all the big categories!
And finally, what is your beef with Bono?
Bono is just the smuggest person ever. He wanted to make the debate over DACA and the DREAMers about U2 somehow. I don’t think there’s anyone else in rock ’n’ roll who just expects lavish praise as much as Bono, which is why I refuse to give him my respect.