SOUNDBENDER, in playing the LOKI EP-release party, will be saying goodbye. The band have announced it will be their last show. They were WTOS 2008 Battle of the Bands champions and released two full-length albums, Victory Mile (2007) and Surviving the Fall (2009), and played consistently in the Seacoast area up through Portland and north over the past nine years. The “Sibilance” staff wish the boys good luck.

Not a bad show put on by the 16 high school bands that competed in the preliminary round of the ROCK OFF this past weekend, all vying for the title of Best High School Band in Maine. Though it’s a longstanding tradition in Portland, this year featured a few new wrinkles. First, the MAINE ACADEMY OF MODERN MUSIC has taken over from REINDEER RECORDS in hosting the event, getting help from the PORTLAND MUSIC FOUNDATION andMAINETODAY.COM. Second, instead of being held in the McAuley High School auditorium, the event was held in, you know, an actual rock club: EMPIRE DINE AND DANCE. Bands played everything from bluegrass to metal to jazz-influenced prog rock, with the winners featuring a nice diversity of styles and representing a wide geography. Those moving on to the Rock Off finals, to be held May 1 at Port City Music Hall, are: FYVE (Winthrop High), the LOUDEST MIME (Freeport High), LOW-FLYING AIRPLANES (Yarmouth High), MOUSAM RIVER RAMBLERS (Kennebunk High), PILGRIMAGE (Cheverus High), and MIDNITE HAZE (Telstar High — Bethel). Kudos go out, too, to the HOLY BOYS DANGER CLUB, who not only featured three veterans of past Rock Offs (bassist Nathan Cyr was in Fort Kent in high school — that’s like being in Canada, where listening to Rush is mandatory), but also extended their closing guest set with a cool take on the Beatles’ “Yer Blues” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” while judges took way too long to tabulate the results.

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