The Grammy press room is its usual hotbed of pre-telecast action this year, as the members of the print pool sit at long tables and wait for free sandwiches while conducting short, frequently awkward interviews with the winners of categories like Best Tropical Latin Album. (Juan Luis Guerra seems like a nice guy.) Inside the convention center next door, where the actual pre-show ceremony is taking place, the vibe is closer to high school assembly: Pockets of people whooping and clapping for their friends, the winners expressing genuine joy that most of the world will never see.

Not many surprises so far, to my knowledge, although Patti Austin was so shocked to win Best Jazz Vocal Album, she came to the stage wearing Crocs. (Patti later announced that she plans to be ”such a bitch” from now on.) Kanye West swept pretty much every rap category; Barack Obama won Best Spoken Word Album; the Muppets won Best Musical Album for Children. Lupe Fiasco’s mom and sister carried pictures of the Best Urban/Alternative Performance winner to accept the award on his behalf. The White Stripes’ Icky Thump won a bunch of stuff, but everybody kept pronouncing it ”Icky Thumb.” Eddie Vedder and Miranda Lambert both got robbed — though Carrie Underwood startled presenter Michael W. Smith by actually being in the room to grab her Best Female Country Vocal statue. (”You couldn’t keep me from actually getting this myself,” she said, grinning.) George Strait missed what has to be like the 4,000th chance to win his first Grammy when Keith Urban took the category instead; Keith did not materialize, although Brad Paisley showed up to accept his first-ever Grammy, for Best Country Instrumental. And the Foo Fighters (pictured) get my undying love for breaking up the usually boring march to the end of this thing — when the winners are all too famous to show up (talking to you, Springsteen) — by bounding down the aisle to collect Best Hard Rock Performance. (Grohl thanked his daughter for inspiring him to write. Aww.)

The big ceremony is getting started soon; the sandwiches had better get here right quick. Stay tuned to PopWatch for all the news that can’t wait until later, and check out Annie Barrett and Leah Greenblatt’s live blog of the broadcast. Grammy fever! Catch it!

addCredit(“Foo Fighters: Vince Bucci/Getty Images”)