Sound Off!, Experience Music Project’s annual battle of the bands for Pacific Northwest musicians ages 21 and under, returns for its fourth year. The competition supports Seattle’s underage band scene by giving musicians the opportunity to play their original music at EMP in front of a live audience, and recording label representatives. Sound Off! Bands jam with the same pulsating sound and visual equipment that professionals use.
Previous Sound Off! competitions have proven an effective launching pad for young talent. Finalists from 2003 and 2004, Idiot Pilot and Schoolyard Heroes, signed with record labels Reprise Records and The Control Group just months after performing at Sound Off!. Schoolyard Heroes has received substantial airplay locally since releasing their first album, Funeral Sciences.
"We were blown away by this year’s pool of creative young musicians," said Bob Santelli, Director of EMP Programs. "Every year we have a panel of music-industry professionals who choose the nine semifinalists. We had over one hundred entries this year, and they really had a tough time narrowing down the field. We are excited to hear the nine semifinalists perform live."
This year promises to be another intense musical battle to the finish, with a full month of live weekend performances kicking off on Saturday, Feb. 5 with the first of three semifinals.
Three finalists will then go head to head on the Sky Church stage, Saturday, Feb. 26 at 8pm. At stake are career-enhancing prizes including an opening slot for the multi-platinum The Presidents of the United States of America at one of their local shows in 2005, time in a recording studio, an opportunity to perform at Bumbershoot 2005, production of a CD thanks to Discmakers, and guaranteed airplay on radio 107.7’s The Young & The Restless.
Bands competing in the first semifinal on Feb. 5 are Handshakes, an exhilarating fusion of electronica and rock, The Neons, an alternative pop-rock sister duo and Paper or Plastic, a promising rock band from Portland.
On Feb. 12, the second semifinal lineup includes hip-hop’s newest Aluzjun, Indie-influenced The Last Romance, and fast-paced punk band, Nameless Danger.
The last semifinal on Feb. 19 includes Gruff Mummies, an edgy glam rock band, The Paramours, an Indie-rock band and Squid vs. Shark, creators of quirky, danceable Indie-pop tunes.
All bands are judged on song composition and arrangement, creativity and originality, musicianship and audience response. Judges will include local musicians, as well as music industry professionals from recording studios, radio stations, and the press. DJ, Harms, from 107.7 The End will emcee each Saturday night.
For a full schedule of Sound Off! performances and sound clips from this year’s lineup, please see the special events section of the EMP Web site, www.emplive.com . Tickets are available through EMP’s box office at 206.770.2702 or 1.877.I-LISTEN. Tickets are $5 for EMP members, $7 for teachers and students, and $10 for the public.