Bass notes thundered across Riverfront Park’s Clocktower Meadow Saturday as 11 of the area’s most talented young bands tried to out-rock each other.
Jump kicks, headbanging and the occasional impromptu mosh pit were the order of the day, with adolescent energy running rampant over a crowd of about 200 onlookers at BOBfest 2007.
“You guys were so awesome!” yelled one fan as he tackled guitarist Saegen Neiman, 18, of Freeman High School’s Mike Allen and the All-Stars, which won the People’s Choice award. The pop-punk band had just come off stage, where they had announced that the show would be their last, with two members going to college in the fall.
“It was unbelievable,” said Neiman, who wore a grass hula skirt on stage. “We wanted to go out with a bang. We did.” He was later seen autographing a female fan’s shirt.
The annual battle of the bands gives teen musicians a chance to compete for 20 hours of studio time with local label College Road Recording. Earlier this year, the bands had each recorded one single for a compilation album that was on sale at the event. BOBfest is organized by the Teen Advisory Council of the Chase Youth Commission.
In addition to the recording time, the first-place winner gets to perform at First Night Spokane. A seven-judge panel awarded the honor this year to Cheney High School’s jazzy prog-rock band Vax Lavala, which came in second in last year’s competition.
Second place went to prog-metal band Catacomb of Rogers High School, and third place to metal core band To No Avail, from Lakeland High School and Devry University.
This year’s bands were largely metal and punk-pop, according to judge and College Road Recording engineer Wade Thames.
The music was “definitely darker” than last year, Thames said.
On a park bench behind the portable stage, Aaron Goff, 18, hunched over his guitar. With two hours to go before his group was set to take the stage, Goff was practicing his riffs. His group, Catacomb, was last year’s People’s Choice winner.
“It’s pretty cool to come out here and have a totally different crowd than you’re used to,” said Goff.
“The kids that are here for punk bands get exposed to metal. It helps us reach out to people.”
Goff’s diligence paid off not only with the band’s award, but with a crowd that screamed in appreciation of the five-member group’s performance.
Catacomb even found a fan in one of the day’s littlest rockers, a mohawked, dancing 5-year-old who climbed on stage and played air guitar alongside the band.
Apparently, it’s never too early to start practicing for BOBfest 2020.