Dan’s Silverleaf hosted the 20th Rock Lottery on Saturday night in Denton. The concept has remained consistent for two decades, but it has taken place in a number of cities. Musicians met at Dan’s on Saturday morning for breakfast and to throw their hats in the ring for a lottery that would place them in a new band for the day.
Once decided, the bands retreated to different workspaces around the city. They had instructions to return 12 hours later with a band name and set list of three new songs, one cover allowed.
GoodBad Art Collective started Rock Lottery in 1997. The event featured more than 800 musicians and raised more than $45,000 for charities. Proceeds benefited Denton’s newest free-form community radio station, KUZU-FM 92.9.
When the bands returned, they found a packed house of musicians, bartenders and fans. Here's what we heard.
Kuzumineers were a quintet consisting of John Hodge (Razorbumps), Ian Hamilton (Nervous Curtains), Dale Jones (New Science Projects), Joe Snow (Joe Pat Hennen) and Randall Minick (Felt & Fur). They drew the unenviable task of playing first, but they used it to their benefit and built their performance up slowly.
Minick’s steady, droning synths meshed nicely with Snow’s haunting lap steel notes, serving as a sturdy foundation for the dreamy soundscapes conjured by Hamilton’s bass and keyboards and Jones’ clipped and steely vocals. The set eventually shape-shifted into blues and alt-country before ending with a punk snarl. Kuzumineers' set was a solid kickoff to the festivities.
Next out was Trash Baby, featuring Bella Scott (Mimisiku), Avery Taylor (Kira Jari), Sudie Abernathy (Sudie), Cesar Velasco (Thin Skin) and Alan Painter (Black Sea). They made a stellar decision to take the stage to a cover of “Danger Zone,” Kenny Loggins’ theme song to the 1986 classic action film Top Gun. Conversation stopped and all eyes were on the stage.
Abernathy’s smooth and soulful singing established a relaxed and casual vibe. But as with the Kuzumineers' performance, the music got louder as the set progressed. Taylor’s bass squared off with Scott’s keys to produce swirling, pulsating music that echoed both the post-punk squalor of Joy Division and the funkiness of Talking Heads. Given more time, Trash Baby probably could have churned out a solid cover of “Psycho Killer.”
Orgasmivore was up next. The band comprised Jabari English (Lil Durt), Ellie Alonzo (Sunbuzzed), Poppy Xander (Helium Queens), Teddy Georgia Waggy (Midnight Opera) and Stephanie Burns (Lizzie Boredom). With layered harmony vocals, catchy instrumentals and a cohesive sound, the assembled group seemed the best-rehearsed of the night.
Orgasmivore also had the best band name and performed the best cover of the night — a joyous rendition of Abba's "Dancing Queen" that elicited cheers and squeals from the audience. Orgasmivore seemed like it might have what it takes to remain a band.
The penultimate act was Cactus Head, featuring Tyler Adams (Friday Mean), Trent Reeves (Mink Coats), Chelsey Danielle (Pearl Earl), Katie Reese (Thin Skin) and Brad Steiger (Barbara Black). Their set started out in high gear with a timely cover of Tom Petty's “I Need to Know."
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From there, the group kept spirits high, with songs full of shredding guitar kick-outs, groovy backbeats and forceful vocals — including a scene-stealing Janis Joplin-esque moment from Danielle. At times, it resembled Alabama Shakes on speed; at others, TV on the Radio.
At this point, the event was running well over its intended four hours. The closing band, Dolphin Butt, had little time to waste.
Band members Josh Berthume, Dahlia Knowles (Lorelai K), Daniel Doyle (Early Lines), Daniel Folmer and Torry Finley (Tornup) took a straightforward and upbeat approach, pounding away at their instruments with gleeful abandon and ripping out a cool cover of Cher’s “Believe.” Dolphin Butt also had the best-designed band T-shirt of the night.
Dolphin Butt made sure that attendees, at this point quite tired, received a proper sendoff. While there were occasional dips in the momentum — and a caffeine bar would have provided a welcome break from a more than four-hour drinking marathon — the audience’s continued focus and enthusiasm was a testament to the organizers’ vision and the bands’ showmanship.