Watching a televised awards show from inside the arena, the scenes behind the scenes are often more interesting than the show itself, whether it’s technicians scampering at lightning speed to move cameras or equipment or set-pieces, or seeing who in the crowd is talking to whom. Here are a few things Variety saw from our perch far above the Madison Square Garden floor.
— Kesha, Camilla Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Andra Day and the other white-clad singers — dubbed the Resistance Revival Chorus — sharing a long and emotional group hug before they took the stage — and then whooping and hollering as they walked off after their emotional performance.
— Several crowd members looking up to the rafters when it became clear that James Corden was announcing Pink (she remained earthbound for her performance).
— While the Royal Family — Jay-Z, Beyonce and Blue Ivy — largely kept to themselves during the show, Lorde and Jack Antonoff (who were seated near the front with Lorde’s younger brother Angelo in the front) were greeted by many passing luminaries — John Legend and the very pregnant Chrissy Teigen stopped by, and after Elton John’s performance, Lorde and her brother talked at length with Sam Smith, then were joined by Janelle Monae for a group shot.
— Sarah Silverman and Victor Cruz holding hands and skipping up to the podium to introduce Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, which brought an even darker humor to her comment after the two encouraged viewers to vote: “Do what you want to do, it’s no big deal: The world is basically over anyway.”
— When Lorde stood up during a commercial break, even from the balcony we could see a small white rectangle on the back of her gown — a quote from Jenny Holzer’s “Inflammatory Essays” that she wore in support of the #MeToo movement.
— The dancers who accompanied Fonsi and Daddy Yankee warming up so violently before their performance that it kept pulling our eyes from Gary Clarke Jr. and John Batiste’s tribute to Chuck Berry and Fats Domino.
— Sam Smith waving and blowing kisses to the gospel choir who’d sung “Pray” with him.
— Country trio Midland, clad in their signature southern-style suits, seemed to know a huge percentage of the luminaries in the front rows and bounded out of their seats at every commercial break in an impressive display of networking. Not a coincidence: bassist Cameron Duddy is a successful video director who’s worked on multiple Bruno Mars clips as well as Mark Ronson and Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” Fifth Harmony’s “Worth It” and others.
— Before the show began, Grammys executive producer Ken Ehrlich noted that Madison Square Garden hosted many famous fights over the years: Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano — and “an epic battle between former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Recording Academy president Mike Greene.” The two had an ugly public spat during the 1998 Grammys — which actually seemed to be about who got to speak during a press conference — that poisoned the air between the show and the city and played at least some role in keeping the Grammys in Los Angeles for 18 of the next 20 years.