A More Hardcore Extra-Curricular: The Sound Off! at The EMP

The Northwest All-Ages Scene Battle of the Bands at the 2014 Sound Off!

Since 2001, The EMP Museum has hosted an annual, showcase event called “Sound Off!” at which talented, local musicians and bands (21 and under) get to perform and compete for great prizes such as gear, recording time, radio airplay, festival performances and media attention. “Sound Off!” is known to have paved the way for many artists such as The Lonely Forest, Schoolyard Heroes, Mechanical Dolls and Royale. It is an event focused on bringing out the all-ages scene here in the Northwest with bands performing from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho. These performers are seriously talented and from various backgrounds, ranging from a talented, high school group of friends to neighborhood music heroes. It’s a great way to showcase these young and amazing artists and give people an account of what our local flavor has to offer especially among the younger crowds.

The Exploring Music Project is all about the celebration of music diversity and bringing the community together through one sonic language. Sound Off! is a great effort towards that goal. As young as they may be, all the musicians in this year’s competition are madly and diversely skilled. The bands this time around play genres ranging from contemporary fiddle folk music to R&B slam poetry to innovative indie rock. An adequate lineup for the EMP. Below is a detailed description of each band.

The lineup for the 13th year

Feb 8, semifinals lineup:

Dames: A garage band from Tacoma, Washington. Their music is really fun. They can easily get a whole venue dancing with their retro riffs and intros like the ones in “What a Terrible Night to Have a Curse”; resembling The Strokes’ early “Is This It” album. They get the party going even if they’re playing at a café in Tacoma or Stanford and Son Library. Their charismatic and relatable lyrics make up for the actual lack of “dames” in the all boy band.

Fox: Together for a year, the band is already pretty experienced having performed at venues like Seattle’s CHOP SUEY as well as an in-studio in 90.3fm KEXP. Laser Fox have developed a confident form of synth pop that you can tell they’re proud of. The song, “Tanzania”, nicely displays their tendency to mix casual synth elements with awesome traditional rock moves like that sexy cymbal drumming at the chorus.

Sophia Duccini: From Whidbey Island, Washington, Sophia Duccini brings her intimate, heartfelt lyrics through educated piano and guitar playing. Her elegant use of traditional indie folk elements go really well with her lyrics. You know she’s talented when you hear the song “In the Nature” and you rave at the subtle but impactful rock guitar riffs resembling the folk style of M. Ward. This left her on par with the members of Hey Marseille when they performed together at the Fremont Abbey.

Tommy Cassidy: Jaded hipsters be damned! With their amazing and diverse instrumentation, and Cassidy’s meaningful lyrics, the West Richland hip-hop project brings about a beautiful a side of pop music that everyone could enjoy. They are a nice example of the Washington hip-hop scene.

Feb. 15 semifinals lineup:

Manatee Commune: Bellingham, Washington’s own Mr. Grant Eadie comes into the scene with a diverse array of ambient, electronic tunes. His scores seemed to fit into certain themes. The song “Brush” reminds you of a walk in a nice park where you appreciates the subtle beauty and harmony of fall. While the song “Lovely” reminds you of a distressed walk in the middle of the night in a sketchy part of town; like you’re in a scene from the British TV show Skins.

Nabii KO$MO: Kitsap representative Nabii KO$MO goes to the EMP with full support from his neighborhood. His homemade tracks on are very impressive on their own. His more professional track, “Wolves”, is a good example for the authenticity of his lyrics. Definitely one of the best perks of 21 and under competitions.

The Onlies: Garfield High School’s most famous posse, The Onlies describe their style as “traditional fiddle music” in the band’s own, high-tech website. You hear the three students talking about their songs and they sound like experienced professionals with the work ethic of your most road-wearied artists. With their song, “Far From Danger”, you can tell how hard they work to make their sound so finely polished. You can check out their lists of venues they’ve performed in (of which includes ACT Theatre, Northwest Folklife, Lake City Contra Dance, plus many more) on their website.

Thee Samedi: Not to miss. The term “garage punk”, while accurate, just doesn’t do them justice. You hear tracks like “Moonshine” and already glaze up with their heavy guitar riffs and howling. But then you hear “Take it Off” and realize this band’s forte is the improvised screeching and guitar playing, hence why you must go to their live performances rather it’d be their concert in Bellingham or at the Heartland. Best example of the Washing punk scene.

Feb. 22 semifinalist line up:

Calico: Yes, not all the bands are from Washington. Calico are the first Sound Off! semifinalists from the state of Idaho. A group of six friends from high school that decided to get together and make an indie folk band whose harmonics rival that of Seattle’s own The Head and the Heart. With their polished cello playing and stark piano notes, these kids become a force to be reckoned with…well, as much as an indie folk band can be.

Fauna Shade: From Everett, Washington. Really have no idea how to describe this group with a more specified term other than “indie”. You turn on the song “Sister Sister”, first comes saturated music, mixed with distorted vocals then, plot twist!, super jazzy drum riffs. These guys stay stuck in your head and you’re not really sure why but you know you love it.

KSNEAK: She’s a triple-threat rapper, dancer and performer. Her audience grows further from her Seattle roots. She’s confident and talented; gaining an influence without a single curse word, which we all know, is very hard to do in the rap world. She contributed to More Music @ The Moor and worked with Grammy nominee, Meshell Ndegeocello.

Otieno Terry: We call him R&B, however the Seattleite’s music is so experimental and his lyrics are so intense. A better description would be slam poetry with music in the background with some great hip-hop elements thrown in.

Be sure to come and support some of the best the Northwest all-ages scene has to offer! The shows are all on Saturdays so the bands and the audiences don’t have to worry about missing class.

Gabriel Ferri / Cheese On Scrambled Eggs Enthusiast / KSUB DJ


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