The grand total from the Vera Project's January 27 Viva Vera Auction wasn't available at press time for last week's column, but as we reported on Line Out (www.thestranger.com/lineout), the night raised over $232,255 for the all-ages organization thanks to auction items like a Gibson guitar signed by more than 40 artists (including Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie, and Beck), an African safari, a trip to the Cayman Islands, and a basket full of Sub Pop rarities.

The "Raise the Paddle" portion of the evening (a "game" where the auctioneer calls out different sums of money and people raise their auction numbers to donate that much) netted over $100,000 thanks to Sub Pop's very generous promise to match every donation. People gave $25, $100, $1,000, even $10,000, and Sub Pop matched every dollar (of course, since the Shins' record debuted at number two on the Billboard charts later that week, they could obviously afford it).

While Vera still hasn't quite reached their $1.8 million goal, after 18 months of fundraising they're only a few hundred thousand away (which is pocket change compared to where they started). They're going to start moving into the new space this weekend, and they're looking for volunteers—e-mail volunteer@theveraproject.org for more information or visit their MySpace page (www.myspace.com/veraproject) to see a moving schedule. They'll even feed you.

Congratulations to Spokane's For Years Blue—they're the first band to advance to the Sound Off! finals later this month. The score at Saturday, February 3's semifinals show—featuring FYB, Don't Tell Sophie, the Oregon Donor, and Halfbreed—was one of the closest in Sound Off! history; all four artists really impressed the audience and the panel of judges. The Oregon Donor walked away with the "crowd favorite" crown, but it was the Spokane band's dynamic indie rock laced with lush strings, piano, and vocal melodies that won them a slot at the February 24 finals.

Sound Off! continues Saturday, February 10, with Dreamwright, Emi Meyer, Left at the Castle, and the band with the best name in the competition, Natalie Portman's Shaved Head. Tickets are $7 for students and EMP members, and $10 for the general public.

Check out upcoming all ages shows in The Stranger's Get Out.

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