Now in its 12th year, Sound Off! (EMP's battle of underage bands) has helped launch the careers of many talented musicians—Dyme Def, the Lonely Forest, Kithkin, Sol, Tomten, Brite Futures... the list goes on.

All from the Pacific Northwest, this year's pool of 12 semifinalists includes everything from experimental hiphop, to quaint, stripped-down bedroom pop.

Four bands play each night, and the winner—along with one wild card band chosen by the EMP Youth Advisory Board—will move on to the finals on March 2 for a chance to win studio time, gear, and a slot at Bumbershoot. For tickets and more information, visit empmuseum.org.

Here's your cram session on who's who, so you can start placing your bets now!

Round One: Sat Feb 9


From: Renton. Sounds Like: Hiphop with a solid and smooth flow, R&B hooks that'll make you groove uncontrollably. Fun Fact: When Dave B. found out he made it to the semifinals, he "ended up having a 10-minute celebratory dance party. It was awesome."


From: Seattle. Sounds Like: Classic rock with a blues vibe—sometimes sounds like it was heavily inspired by later Beatles, while other times sounds like they really enjoy the Doors. Fun Fact: If Mister Mista could summon one superpower during the show, singer and guitarist Jonah Simone says, "I'd opt for collective mass synesthesia, causing everyone in the audience to hallucinate the music in congress with each other." Whoa.


From: Tacoma. Sounds Like: The soundtrack to an eight-bit video game based on the Strokes. Fun Fact: With vintage fur coats, teased-up hair, glittery scarves, and skintight jeans, the Fame Riot are bringing back that Jesse Camp circa 1999 look without a hint of irony.


From: Tacoma. Sounds Like: A gritty burst of sonic confetti played by enthusiastic kids who really love Of Montreal but felt it needed a bit more of a punk rock edge. Fun Fact: Their song "Yes & No" has a bit of a RVIVR vibe to it, so of course I love it.

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Sound Off! Semifinals #1 are tomorrow, February 9, at the EMP.