A lot of bands enter contests. This typically means a high-school battle of the bands, or perhaps engaging in a larger affair, like the recent Last Band Standing. But with the Internet, music competitions take on an entirely new style and scope. In other words, electronic-based contests are a new and different world.
This is something Adventure Galley, a band comprised mostly of Mountain View High School graduates who've relocated to Eugene, discovered when they tossed in an application to the Toyota Music Rock the Space contest this spring. They didn't know what to expect - so they really didn't expect anything, especially when the quintet discovered that some 17,000 other acts had entered the contest.
Now, about 16,990 of those bands are no longer in the competition, but Adventure Galley is one of the 10 that remain in the semi-final round, selected by music industry professionals. If they win the audience vote, they would take home about $40,000 in prizes, including a recording contract with MySpace Records and also find themselves suddenly thrust into the spotlight, catching the eyes and ears of those who could help the young band make the next step.
"It was definitely a surprise," says drummer Brock Grenfell, a University of Oregon student who's spending some of the summer over in Bend, where his younger brother, Forrest, plays in the The Snag and the Tree Dwellers.
"When we found out, it was definitely a weird day for me because I was excited about it, so I didn't know what to think," he says.
Grenfell and company definitely know what to think now - they want people to vote for them. Unlike other click-a-thons, the Rock the Space contest allows only one vote per day, and you have to have a MySpace account to vote. Even if you haven't logged on to MySpace in a while you can dust off that account, the band says, or if necessary, create a new profile, in order to show Adventure Galley some love.
The song that earned the band its way into the semifinals is called "Addict" a poppy, synth-driven dance-punk number that's just one of the solid numbers from the band's recently released EP, The Right Place to Be. While online contests are not without their cesspools of "how-did-these-guys-get-this-far?" bands, it's clear why Adventure Galley got noticed. The EP is smart, contemporary and, most of all, sharply produced, which the band in part owes to the time they spent tracking the songs at Jackpot! Recording Studio, the same Portland music factory where bands like The Shins, She & Him and Spoon (among others) have recorded.
Adventure Galley formed in the months after Grenfell and guitarists Aaron Johnson and David Mills graduated from Mountain View. Mills and Johnson would soon move to Portland, but the three would soon reunite in Eugene, where Grenfell was attending school. Although Eugene's music taste is still heavily draped in tie-dye, Adventure Galley's dancey, punk-inspired rock has nonetheless earned the band a following and spots in basement shows. Still, the exposure they're getting by way of the MySpace contest is far and away the biggest chance at getting out there they've seen - but shows like Thursday night's gig at Boondocks are helping to get their name out there.
If you put on the Adventure Galley, the first thing you probably think is, "Damn, these guys sound like Arcade Fire... kinda." The only difference, is that Arcade Fire isn't armed with an arsenal of synthesizers and effects.
"I really like them a lot," says Aaron Johnson, who provides guitars and vocals to Adventure Galley's thick and layered sound.
"That's one of the comparisons we get. Some of the other bands I don't really understand, like Wolf Parade or sometimes people think we sound a lot like the Killers," says Johnson.
They are some easy comparisons to make, and the Killers reference really isn't too far off, given the echoey vocals and pulsating rhythms the band creates. Comparisons aside, the recent EP, shows a band that has created a sound that's probably a good fit for the current collective mainstream taste. And hopefully, that sound appeals to the thousands of MySpace music fans that arrive on the contest homepage and click on "Adventure Galley" - a name they've almost certainly never read elsewhere, but could soon be hearing a lot of.
9pm Thursday, July 22. Boondocks Bar and Grill, 70 NW Newport Ave. 21 and up.