Northwest Quest for the Best • Queensryche 

It's Good To Be Queen

Friday, January 13, was the first round in the 2nd Annual Northwest Quest for the Best, hosted by the Big Easy. Winners of this year's contest will compete against winner's from a showcase being held in Spokane. I was asked to judge the first round, Metal/Hard Rock 1, and and was then promised a spot at the judge's table for the entire competition. My judging cohorts were a couple of local semi-celebs whose musical knowledge made them clear choices to judge rockers on a 1 to 10 scale on crowd involvement, stage presence, musicianship and originality.

The line-up was, in order of appearance, O.C.D., Evologic, Final Underground, Frantik and Ripchain. Familiar with all of their work, it was a joy to watch and hear them perform. The winner was not announced at the end of the night because there's another Metal/Hard Rock round. However, I read on the Internet (so it must be true) a note from one band congratulating two bands for winning the first round. I don't know where said band got that information, and I honestly don't even know who the other judges picked as the best of the night. What I do know is that it was a helluva lot of fun and I am anticipating the next round, which is the Alternative Rock/Punk round and includes Outside In, Abrupt Edge, Element, Southpond and 12th of Never.

Saturday, January 21, 8 p.m., $5, all ages, The Big Easy, 416 S. 9th St., 367-1212.

It's Good To Be Queensryche

In the summer of 2005, Queensryche returned to the studio to record Operation Mindcrime: II, the long, long, long, long, long, long, long anticipated sequel to their 1988 (that's right, 1988) concept album Operation: Mindcrime. Operation Mindcrime: II brings back Nikki, Sister Mary and Dr. X, who this time around is played by former Rainbow/Black Sabbath and current Dio vocalist, Ronnie James Dio. Seriously.

--Amy Atkins

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