Starting Saturday's riot at 6 pm is ManBox, hailing primarily from University High School. The band's image screams emo, with art featuring the name etched in blood on a pair of forearms. However, I remain convinced that it's an emo parody band, the first entry into the genre that I'm aware of. With lyrics like "I'm sad because I have no friends" against a backdrop of absurdly hyperbolic screams, the band's intent is suspicious. They're either incredibly trite lyricists, or they're working on a hilarious multitude of levels. Please, please, please, ManBox, be striving for the latter.
The next band, on the other hand (a hand noticeably free of razor scars), is completely earnest. Sound Curfew comes out of Coeur d'Alene and has some excellent production work behind it. More than any band so far in this competition, it exudes professionalism. The band's work wouldn't sound out of place on commercial radio -- it's got the prerequisite guitar hooks. To put it simply: Sound Curfew knows what it's doing.
Guilty Conscience from Chewelah, unfortunately, has no tracks to offer on its MySpace page, so previewing the band's sound is unfeasible.
However, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it sounds a lot like Blink-182, a band I'm coming to terms with. Playing in a pop-punk band is apparently some sort of coming-of-age experience, and these young (very young, actually, as they are all 13) lads seem sturdily entrenched in that particular musical oeuvre.
Below Thee Above bucks the trend by being the first non-hardcore band to claim membership in the Jesus camp, but it does support the distinct pattern of bands being either hardcore/emo or pop-punk. Personally, I'm praying for a bit of variety in future brawls; I can easily foresee many of the bands' sounds bleeding together interchangeably. Below Thee Above sounds exactly like what you'd expect -- uncomplicated riffs, lo-fi sound -- but the available song was a rough mix, so take a saline grain. It looks capable of performing a highly energetic live show.
The final band, Gates of Graceland, is hardcore to the point of almost being considered metal, depending on whether or not your definition of metal includes "extreme guitar dithering" and/or "indecipherable screamed lyrics." Since most metal usually incorporates both, I'm going to give them the nod here on that point.
The winner of this week's battle? I predict Sound Curfew. Last week I chose a band (pick record: 0-1) on the basis of its levity -- this week, it's gravity. I don't know if their studio polish translates well to a live setting, but they're clearly the tightest band in the lineup. That counts for something, dammit.
RAWK Final Four Round Two featuring ManBox, Sound Curfew, Guilty Conscience, Below Thee Above and Gates of Graceland at the Service Station on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 6 pm. $8; $10 at the door. Visit ticketswest.com or call 325-SEAT.