The EMP’s annual Sound Off! competition puts a spotlight on our area’s abounding riches of talented all ages bands (rules are: under 21 and live in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or British Columbia).
It’s a best of the battle of the bands – taking out the “Mean Girls popularity” quotient, and rewarding those with the creative vision blended with technical skill and moxie to extend the soundscape of our fine music scene.
All the Sound Off! performers I’ve seen over the last 15 years could easily show a lot of 21+ aged bands a thing or two – as evidenced by a quick glance at some Sound Off! alumni. This annual tradition has introduced us to some of our favorite bands: Nightspace, Brite Futures, Kithkin, Schoolyard Heroes, Idiot Pilot, SEACATS and The Lonely Forest. Heck, Sound Off is where we first met Mon Frere!
There are three rounds of semi-finals (running on the Saturdays of 2/13, 2/20, and 2/27) and a big grand mega Final showdown on March 5. I’m super honored to join the judges panel for the last Semi-Final competition on February 27, 2016.
2016 marks the 15th anniversary of this wonderful event and the line up for the Semi-Finals is stellar:
Saturday, February 20 at the EMP Museum – Semi-Finals #2
- Animal Camera from Burien, WA (indie pop/rock)
- Crews from Olympia, WA (indie rock)
- Paris Alexa from Redmond, WA (R&B/pop)
- Travis Thompson from Burien, WA (hip-hop)
Saturday, February 27 at the EMP Museum – Semi-Finals #3
- Dre’zy and Too Smoove from Renton, WA (hip-hop)
- Hello, I’m Sorry from Bellingham, WA (rock)
- Paralexis from Lake Stevens, WA (electropop)
- LEE from Seattle, WA (indie pop, R&B)
Saturday, March 5 at the EMP Museum
The big grand prize big finals night will feature the winning bands from the semi-finals and the wild card band.
As of this writing, the first installment of the semi-finals passed (on 2/13) and the winner was: COSMOS (from Seattle) with the Wild Card being awarded to Jazzy Tee (from Vancouver, BC). The competition was stiff:
No matter who wins the grand prize (which is super awesome*), we’ll likely be hearing a lot more from all the semi-finalists. Catch them now so you can brag to your local record store clerk that you heard of them first.
*Want to know what kinds of prizes are available? Prizes include recording time, gear and festival performances and performance slots in the following lineups:
- Bumbershoot (1st Place)
- Sasquatch! Music Festival (One finalist to be selected by Sasquatch!)
- Timber! Outdoor Music Festival (Two semifinalists to be selected by Timber!)
- KEXP community-based show (Audience Favorite)
- Northwest Folklife (3rd and 4th Place)
All of this is further proof that Seattle is a special place where the all ages music scene is supported with events like Sound Off! as well as at our brightest and best music festivals.
Top photos: Thanks to the EMP for these sweet sweet headshots taken by the brilliant Brady Harvey.