By Gina Rangel-Gross
As reported in the February issue of the Roosevelt News, the EMP Museum kicked off their 14th edition of their annual Sound Off! music competition on February 13. Twelve specially-chosen youth semifinalist bands performed over the course of three weeks (Feb 13, Feb 20 and Feb 27), with each night one first place and one second place winner chosen. The three first place winners automatically received, and the three second place winners got put into a pool for the chance to receive, a spot performing in the final, big-bash event that is Sound Off! Finals. As it turned out this year, the bands that made the cut this year for the March 7 event were Naked Giants, Emma Lee Toyoda, wildcard band One Above Below None, and Bleachbear which includes Roosevelt’s own Annabella Bird Cooley on drums.
Naked Giants (http://nakedgiants.bandcamp.
Emma Lee Toyoda (http://emmaleetoyoda.
One Above Below None (https://oabn.bandcamp.com/), a hip-hop group from Seattle, were the wildcard-winners and last performing bands of the March 7 Finals. Having tried and failed to enter Sound Off! three times, and being chosen 13th this year (only performing because one of the originally chosen top twelve had dropped out), their genuine passion and excitement to finally be performing on the Sky Church stage was palpable. With an exciting, unpredictable stage presence and an entirely never-before-heard set of songs prepared for Finals, the group went hard to excite and surprise the audience as much as possible. Jumping insane heights, talking and joking with the audience and entering rap-battles with each other on stage, One Above Below None had a constant energy that guided their performances.
At the end of these performances, I was amazed by the talent of all four bands that had made it this far. I had my personal favorites, but I truly had no idea who was going to be the winner of Sound Off! 2015 — every single band was amazing, and that is said without exaggeration. The results turned out to be that OABN swept in first place, Naked Giants won second, Emma Lee Toyoda third, and Bleachbear fourth. Although the first-prize band wins some amazing benefits including a performance at Bumbershoot, the point of Sound Off! is thankfully not the competition or winning first place, but the exposure that all 12 talented PNW bands recieve and the experience learned about working right alongside judges and members of the music industry. While Sound Off! 2015 may be over, it’s guaranteed that this won’t be the last time you’ll see these talented bands.