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Monday, March 4, 2013 - Page updated at 12:30 p.m.

Wild-card Renton hip-hop artist wins EMP’s Sound Off!

By Gene Stout
Special to The Seattle Times

It’s always fun when the wild card wins.

Coming from behind in a tight talent competition, Renton hip-hop artist and Lindbergh High School grad Dave B won the 2013 Sound Off! 21-and-under battle of the bands Saturday night at EMP Museum’s Sky Church.

Sporting a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls 45 jersey, Dave Bowman and his group of fellow Lindbergh grads had been the wild-card pick for the finals, receiving that honor after the third semifinal round Feb. 23 (they were also the wild-card winners at the first semifinal round Feb. 9). This pitted them against three strong finalists — The Fame Riot, SHEBEAR and As It Starts.

But Dave B wowed the audience with an Energizer Bunny performance that demonstrated his flair for showmanship. Indeed, Dave B made the art of whipping a crowd into a frenzy look as easy and fun as the Jackson Five’s “ABC.”

Backed by a DJ, keyboardist and drummer, the ebullient rapper pumped his left arm up and down, directing the crowd in a dance-a-thon of staccato hip-hop beats and soulful melodies.

“This is like the first thing I’ve ever won in life,” the elated rapper said on his Twitter page after winning the competition, which guarantees him a slot at Bumbershoot.

All finalists will receive gear, studio time, radio airplay and consultations with music-industry pros.

The panel of music-savvy judges included Mark Baumgarten of City Arts magazine; John Roderick of The Long Winters; Rachel Sawyer-White of the Seattle Office of Film + Music; Bekah Zietz of Sub Pop Records; and Erin Burke, a New York-area music publicist.

Here’s how it broke down for the rest of the bands. SHEBEAR, an indie-pop group from Puyallup, came in second. The Fame Riot, an electro-pop band from Tacoma, took third place. And As It Starts, from Bothell, came in fourth — but received special recognition as the audience favorite (based on applause). In addition, SHEBEAR won a slot at Catapultfest 2013, an all-ages festival Aug. 16-17 in Anacortes.

First to take the stage was The Fame Riot, a flamboyant group led by two men named Liz Scarlett and Shazam Watkins, who exhibited a knack for hair-swinging showmanship. The group combined glam-rock, disco and pop.

Second on stage was SHEBEAR, whose dreamy, keyboard-driven pop was uplifting and fun. The group’s enthusiasm was contagious, with members exchanging wide grins and pinch-me-I-can’t-believe-I’m-performing-at-Sky-Church glances.

Last on stage (following Dave B) was As It Starts, the Bothell group that won semifinal round three Feb. 23. The band’s shimmering pop songs featured the soaring vocals of front woman Alex Menne.

Gene Stout: gene@genestout.com


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