by JEFF ECHERT & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & H & lt;/span & ere we go again -- you know the drill. Five high school bands enter the Service Station, one exits upon a gilded throne.
The opening band, A Pyrrhic Victory, more than any other band in the Rawk Final Four, gets metal right. Hailing from Lakeland, Idaho, its members have some frightening technical skill for their age, especially the drummer. The double bass drum sounds professional as all hell; the guitar work is fantastic. The vocals are absolutely perfectly metal -- growly, angry, yet still understandable and replete with dark imagery. This band should totally win.
Second band, The Nightfly is nice and jazzy, with clear, crisp guitar tone, slightly dissonant chord progressions and understated vocals. I quite like vocalist Nick Grow's voice -- it's got a constant timbre and an impressive range. Between this group and A Pyrrhic Victory, this is actually shaping up to be a decent evening.
Unfortunately, the next band in the lineup, Shadoya Jones, makes an about-face. Brandishing sloppy instrumentation with a collusion of vocals that vary between "screaming just for the sake of screaming your damn head off" and "Cookie Monster caught mid-coitus," Shadoya Jones is not for the faint of heart -- or ear. The trade-off between the two vocalists is at least out of the ordinary, though I can't help but comment that screaming, in general, works better when it has a more melodic counterpoint than a fuzzy blue flailing orgasm. Shadoya Jones is jarring, true, and will most likely appeal to only the hardiest of listeners -- but no one would dare accuse them of being boring, the most cardinal sin in the book.
Some Will Fall plays typical screaming-for-Jesus hardcore music, like just about 25 percent of the entire contest, and it does nothing spectacular in that vein. Middling musicianship and forgettable vocals. And I can't help but be struck by the irony inherent in the style: All of these bands claim to want to convey a message about God, but not a single word is intelligible. Sort of defeats the point, don't you think? Better bands have played and lost in this contest, so I don't expect Some Will Fall to outshine the competition.
Rexdismantled, from Missoula, provides a nice respite in the form of inoffensive, piano-driven pop. The lyrics are overtly Christian, and it's the only band in the lineup that will actually be able to transmit its message, as the female vocalist (bringing some much-needed gender diversity to the contest) is clear and powerful. This group gets high marks for having traveled the farthest to make the contest.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & C & lt;/span & overing this contest has taught me just how much change Spokane's high school music scene needs. Where were the country bands? Where were the hip-hop groups? Hell, even the classic rockers? Nowhere to be found. It's one (mostly) white (usually) angsty (overwhelmingly) male group after another. With few exceptions there's not a single risk taken amongst them -- everything safe and familiar and derivative. To those few bands who did something out of the ordinary, or did your thing extremely well, I salute you once again. You give me hope, but I can count that hope on the fingers of one hand.
RAWK Final Four Round Four featuring A Pyrrhic Victory, The Nightfly, Shadoya Jones, Some Will Fall, and Rexdismantled at the Service Station on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 6 pm. $8; $10 at the door. Visit ticketswest.com or call 325-SEAT.