Rocking out in true Yukon fashion, Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE) is hosting it’s annual Battle of the Bands, a no-holds-barred performance extravaganza.

Open to musically-inclined youth under 30 years old, the Battle of the Bands features music from every genre possible — there are no limits.

Hip-hop, funk and metal bands are on the list so far, and BYTE’s events planner, Matt Koop-Pearce, informs me there are spaces open for enterprising bands looking for some crucial exposure: “It’s a great opportunity to get on stage in a professional venue and show the Yukon what you’re all about,” he says.

Previous Battle of the Bands winners — Plaid, Death in Venice and A Friend Called Five — have gone on to see success within the Yukon and Canada, according to Koop-Pearce.

Battle of the Bands and BYTE was founded in 1998 by youth striving to make a difference in teen culture and empowerment, and from that grassroots organization a large youth conference sprouted.

Battle of the Bands was an essential aspect of the youth culture, held each year by BYTE, and worked as a big draw for young people interested in social justice issues as well as great music.

This year marks the first year BYTE will not hold a youth conference and, instead, is promoting Battle of the Bands as a stand-alone youth event.

“Because youth conferences have really taken off in the communities, we didn’t see a need to promote ours when we could focus on other different events,” says Koop-Pearce.

Emphasis turned from bringing in youth from communities to empowerment workshops that go out to communities, bringing sessions on ‘zine creation and creative art and music workshops.

Despite the change, Battle of the Bands is the former conference’s standout show and couldn’t get passed over this year.

In previous years, Battle of the Bands had some interaction with the Frostbite Festival, but this year they are partnered with them. The band that wins the battle will be featured on Sunday’s Frostbite Festival show, headlining with the big bands at the Yukon Arts Centre.

“We’re really excited to be able to offer the opportunity to perform with Frostbite, and that kind of exposure for local bands can’t be bought,” says Koop-Pearce.

For the winning band, prizes are geared toward musicians interested in getting serious: a two-hour recording session with Old Crow Recording, the Frostbite headliner, a spot in the Atlin 2011 music festival lineup and a professional band photo shoot with Inanda Images.

Battle of the Bands takes place Friday, Feb. 19, at Yukon College in Room T1070. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are available at BYTE or at the door.

Prospective bands are encouraged to send a demo tape, YouTube clip or swing by BYTE to sign up — the sooner the better. Visit BYTE at 407 Oglivie Street, phone 667-7975 or e-mail [email protected].