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by ROBBY DOUTHITT & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & A & lt;/span & rmed with a vague, historical reference for a name ("The Black Hand"), our four-piece was supposed to rock 2004's BOBFest. Everyday in rehearsal, as I pounded out the rhythms of our set -- two originals and an obscure, early R.E.M. cover, so obscure in fact that I can't even remember what it was called -- I could taste the sweet glory of first place. Back then, the prize was studio time to record a demo and a gig at Pig Out in the Park.





So what became of the Black Hand? We placed probably closer to last than first and were never able to record that demo. (Though I'm sure it would have launched us to indie-rock stardom.) Instead, a group of pre-teens singing Michael Jackson covers stole the show. They were known then as CUZ'n, and would later go on to form the Creed-esque Mylestone, who ran the local (high school) music scene for about a year and a half. Then, their singer's head got Scott-Stapp-sized and they broke up.





This Saturday, at noon near the Clock Tower in Riverfront Park, 12 high school bands will have the opportunity to be the next Black Hand or Mylestone. The Chase Youth Commission will be putting on the 10th annual BOBFest and the stakes for first place have risen a little. In addition to studio time and the Pig Out gig, the band that vanquishes all others will get a show at Spokane's First Night and a $500 gift certificate to Hoffman Music. If the Black Hand had that kind of motivation, we'd probably be on a world tour right now.





Differently from years past, BOBFest will open and close with non-high school but locally known bands not in the competition. Chariot Sky will open the event and blues rockers the Fat Tones will close.





The COMPETITORS


12:30 | Billy Versus likes to experiment with its sound. Moving from genre to genre -- playing anything from acoustic sets to hardcore, industrial metal -- the four-piece from Lakeside High School thought it found its calling card in pop/punk. Guitarist Nick Fortenberry, however, describes its newest word as more techno/electronica -- energetic with a good beat.





12:55 | Arete is a four-person band from north Idaho. You can hear its song "The Storm" at www.myspace.com/arete08.





1:20 | Three members of the five-piece Maoczy are classically trained musicians. This means a cello, a violin and a viola will be part of the band's arsenal as it plays intricate and dark rock songs. Zach Alden -- vocals, viola, guitar -- says the group spends a lot of time on the production and tonal qualities of its sound, which in turn has given it unique melodies and chord progressions.





1:45 | Ambassador Nate has been together in some form for about three years. The three-piece has a definite punk rock sound and is influenced by Blink 182 and Reliant K. It has opened for Goodnight Sunrise -- a mid-level band from Montana that played a show at the Empyrean and was in the RAWK Final Four last year.





2:10 | The Tappas is all about fun, poppy songs. Led by sisters Ellie and Maddie Tappa, the band is most strongly influenced by Hanson. Two non-family members will be on keys and drums, but Ellie and Maddie's dad will be filling in on bass. The sisters say they'll be unique at BOBFest because there won't be other bands going for a straight pop sound.





2:35 | According to its MySpace page, Hail the Gunfire is a hard-rock Christian band. It has played many local shows and its influences include Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying and August Burns Red.





3:00 | Grunge meets classic rock: Pearl Jam. Grunge meets funk: Red Hot Chili Peppers. Grunge meets classic rock, meets funk: Purple State? The three-piece from the north side is trying to find its own sound by blending these three genres, says guitarist Eric Beaulaurier. The group has played at Empyrean and the Blvd, as well as numerous high school talent shows.





3:25 | BEAF hopes its onslaught of vocal harmonies, unique time signatures and sheer size will have the audience eating it up on Saturday. Kris Mayhew says the six-member ensemble can produce a more unique sound than a lot of traditional four-pieces. The hardcore Christian rock band was last year's RAWK Final Four winner.





3:50 | Four-piece McGuire is a pop/punk band in the same tune as Taking Back Sunday and Fall Out Boy, but they're not afraid to throw in some classic rock flavor. Lead singer and guitarist Jarod Schaber cites Queen as a major influence. The group has played at Empyrean, the Blvd and the Big Easy.





4:15 | Middle school band Guilty Conscience is a punk rock five-piece. Its influences are Blink 182 and A Simple Plan, among others. The Chewelah band recently played at the Hillyard Park-Chalk Art Walk.





4:40 | Its MySpace says that Waggyplank is a punk/indie four-piece. Its influences are all things punk: old punk, hardcore punk and pop punk.





5:05 | Winner of this year's Rockfest at the Service Station, the Chasing plays soulful music. Sounding a little like soft rock, a little like contemporary jazz and a little like classic blues, the Chasing has a relaxed set, influenced by songwriter Jamie Cullum and Stevie Ray Vaughan.





BOBFest at the Clock Tower in Riverfront Park on Saturday, June 14, at noon. Free. All ages.
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