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The stars  came out early in Cleveland on Monday.

A motorcade of modern rock legends were chauffeured to Playhouse Square in shuttles and limousines late in the afternoon to celebrate with Alternative Press magazine at the fourth annual AP Awards Show.

Founded by longtime editor Michael Shea, the Cleveland-based magazine has covered up-and-coming bands, counter-culture fashion, and punk / skater lifestyle since the mid-1980s and has evolved from a “free, take one” flyer at local concert clubs to a full-on trade periodical boasting thousands of annual subscribers. 

It didn’t occur to Shea to host a high-profile awards show until bands, publicists, record label execs, and other industry bigwigs started encouraging him to mark the magazine’s 30th anniversary with its own hard rockin’ version of The Grammys.

The inaugural APMAs and concert transpired in the very backyard of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame itself (at Voinovich Park overlooking Lake Erie) in July 2014.  Special guests included Joan Jett, Slash, Billy Corgan, Panic! at the Disco, Asking Alexandria, and Ice-T.

In 2015 the APMAs moved a few blocks south to Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The sports center accommodated thousands of additional fans and saw another mind-blowing lineup of musical acts (and surprise collaborations)—with Rob Zombie and Weezer topping the bill.

The third APMAs were displaced to Columbus, Ohio by the 2016 Republican National Convention.  Hosted by All Time Low guitarists Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat, the swanky soiree brought a swarm of fans to the Buckeye capitol for a night of rock and revelry with Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Third Eye Blind, Of Mice & Men, and Good Charlotte. 

So Monday’s festival at Key Bank State Theatre was a homecoming for Shea, AP, and its ever-expanding annual summer party.

The festivities (sponsored by Journeys and Monster Energy Drink) started over the weekend with a Fan Day at the Rock all.  By Monday morning, premium ticket-holders and VIPs were already queuing on Euclid Avenue for the award show / concert proper.

We attended the APMAs red carpet ceremony (held in the lobby of the Allen Theatre) to play paparazzi for a couple hours…and our cameras caught all the action.  There were more rockers—male and female—than we could remember, so it’s a good thing we had the shutters clicking.

Red Carpet hostess Ash Costello (of New Years Day) greeted the stars outside before throwing down on stage at the awards show. Halestorm frontwoman Lzzy Hale showed off a short new hairdo. Goldfinger singer John Feldmann was on hand (in a dapper suit) to receive an Influencer Award. Members of All Time Low (including Gaskarth and Barakat) showed up, as did representatives from Plain White T’s, Pretty Reckless, Sleeping With Sirens, Dave Gavin Dance, DREAMCAR, PVRIS, No Doubt, Sum 41, and Hawthorne Heights. The costumed cretins from GWAR added color and chaos to the affair.  Life of Agony singer Mina Caputo rubbed elbows with Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! 

Japanese quartet One OK Rock appeared in casual attire.  Other bands dressed in surf wear, in throwback ‘80s New Wave threads, in running shorts and visors…and some even masqueraded as swamp bushes and shrubs (Waterparks).

Representing Cleveland were rappers Machine Gun Kelly and Bone Thugs.

APMAs host Andy Biersack (aka Andy Black) of Black Veil Brides put in some facetime at around 5:00pm and was accompanied by lovely wife Juliet Simms.  Biersack didn’t walk the length of the red carpet, however; he ducked early out to prepare for the show.