By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
On Saturday, I was supposed to attend the Dallas Observer's 25th Anniversary/Best of Dallas extravaganza. It was one of those invite-only, chic-attire things with martinis, hors d'oeuvres, fancy outfits and so on. Not my bag, really--I'm still not sure how to even pronounce the word chic--but I heard there would be free burritos, too. Decisions, decisions. So I asked DO organizers if any local bands were playing, and when my question was met with blank stares, my choice was clear.
If I really wanted to enjoy a "best of" party on Saturday, I knew I had to drive to Denton for Rock Lottery 7. Besides, I could wear purple pants to that.
To the uninitiated (read: those of you who didn't read last week's and another thing), Denton's Good/Bad Art Collective created the Rock Lottery in 1997 as one of the group's many themed concerts, only this one was so good that it continued even after Good/Bad split town. Twenty-five area musicians are randomly split into five bands, and each gets 12 hours to practice, write songs and (most important) come up with a band name for a 20-minute performance that evening at Dan's Silverleaf.
This year's Rock Lottery had a twist, and that's saying something for an event famous for band names like Gay Gaye, Wombstone Pizza and Magic Johnson: The Gathering. The seventh incarnation was the first to openly invite Dallas musicians to the Denton party--sure, Dallasites have participated before, but they always had strong Denton ties. Organizer Martin Iles explained before the show that he was interested in expanding the event's borders--in some sense, to make it less of an inside joke for Dentonites--and the move paid off handsomely.
Day of the Double Agent's Regina Chellew was front and center in The Party After You Left, a thunderous space-rock outfit that sounded like it had just gotten off a broken-down van tour through the Midwest. She traded howls and guitar riffs with John Wesley Coleman's Andy Cox and won the crowd over with an ass-blasting cover of '90s obscurities The Geraldine Fibbers.
But even her awesome Dallas representation was overshadowed by Robert Gomez, whose DeVinyl Countdown embodied the spirit of the RL. Gomez, with the storytelling help of Denton's mask-covered Mike McNasty, whipped up a comic, musical story of how his Lottery band (who had somehow played Fry Street Fair six times) had become so world-famous that they flew to space and played concerts for aliens--yes, only at Rock Lottery, folks, but the music behind the jokes was lovely, too, thanks largely to Polyphonic Spree flautist Audrey Easley.
The Dallas/Denton distinction didn't matter by night's end, since all five bands impressed, and with only 12 hours of practice under their belts, no less. Milk of Amnesia pulled off some beautiful sounds as the show opener, with Tim DeLaughter's Roxy Music-styled songs upstaged only by the tap-dancing insanity of Faux Fox's George Quartz. Liz McGowan, who plays in the Denton duo Silk Stocking, proved with The Good, The Bad and the Snuggly that her freak-blues songs only get better with a drummer and the smoking lead guitar of Zest of Yore's John McCane. Maybe it's time to enlist more Stockings, McGowan?
The days of Good/Bad might be well and gone, but consider this, Dallas/Fort Worth/Denton: Last week's Laptop Deathmatch and this week's Rock Lottery were unique, memorable and potentially important developments for local music. Humor, spectacle and experimentation will bring new faces to shows and can birth even more exciting movements around town. That's not to say people should host kitschy shows where everyone is naked and setting guitars on fire (though that could be cool), but special shows like these are the exact opposite of chic. They're the reasons local music works.