Rock Lottery 11 Dan's Silverleaf Saturday, November 17
As 10 a.m. rolled around on Saturday morning, a sea of groggy musicians filed into Dan's Silverleaf for breakfast enchiladas and Bloody Marys, for the traditional rock lottery selection ceremony. A handful were wearing the same clothes from the night before. After an hour of breakfast, beer and hugs were exchanged, Good/Bad Art Collective director Martin Iles took the stage with this year's hosts, Scott Porter and George Neal, hoisting a tattered cowboy hat with a gaudy flower embellishment on the front. Organizers Chris Flemmons and Natalie Davila of 35 Denton, and Chris Mosley of D Magazine's FrontRow, also huddled onstage. "It's amazing that [the Rock Lottery] still holds, and that it's still relevant," Iles said. See also: Scenes from the Rock Lottery 11
Like we told you before, the Rock Lottery concept first came from members of Denton's Good/Bad Art Collective, a group of artists active from 1993-2001, and has a simple yet creative premise: 25 hand-picked musicians are organized into five bands through a lottery-based selection, then released to practice at different locations for exactly 12 hours before returning to the venue to perform what they have created in front of an audience. The rules are that each band must create a band name and three to five songs, with a limit of just one cover song. The groups are allocated one drummer per band.
Here were the Rock Lottery band names and members: Rape Casserole, with McKenzie Smith of Midlake, Ryan Thomas Becker of RTB2, Nicole Estill of True Widow, Chris Welch of Pinebox Serenade and Issac Hoskins of The Heelers; Savior Serpent, with Jeremy Buller of The Hope Trust, Paddy Flynn of Deep Snapper, David Saylor of Terminator 2, Tex Bosley of The Holler Time and Judson Valdez of Baruch the Scribe; Bacchanalia with Rob Buttrum of Terminator 2, Justin Gray of Idiots, Taylor Kimbrough of Deep Throat, Ginny Mac of Brave Combo and Adrian Ordones of Stoned Men; A Rising Beacon of Enlightenment Chamber Orchestra, with Petra Kelly of Spooky Folk, Jeff Barnard of Dust Congress, Darcy Neal of Bludded Head, Rachel Yoder of Odd Partials and Mike Forbes of Shiny Around the Edges; and The Ghost of John Bonerz Denton, with Doug Burr, Bill Dodds of Bukkake Moms, Aaron White of Old Snack, James Washington of Peopleodian and Cody Garcia of The Heelers.
After the groups were assigned that morning and some photos were snapped, the musicians rushed to their various rehearsal spaces, lugging gear across the Denton Square, in every direction.
Twelve hours later, at 10 p.m., after a quick introductory tune by George Neal, strumming an acoustic guitar, and Scott Porter on harmonica, the show commenced with Rape Casserole. "Welcome to the Rock Lottery," Porter sang. "I thought you said you knew how to sing," Neal cut in. Porter defensively retorted, "George, that's a really dick thing to say." And thus, the Rock Lottery mood was set.
Rape Casserole kicked off their four-song set with a heavy tune called "Dead Meat, So Sweet," featuring lots of characteristically squeaky reverb from Ryan Thomas Becker, who later ignited into a high-pitched scream. Later came a bluesy R&B jam, followed by a dream-pop song, overlain by Becker's stream-of-consciousness lyrics about seeing an animal on top of a guy's head while walking down the street. The bookend to their hilarious act was a Western swing tune headed up by guitarist Issac Hoskins, about being in desperate need of a "bucket of dicks." Nicole Estill's sparkling voice gave the song just the right amount of Loretta Lynn it needed. The group ended with a standing ovation from more than a hundred familiar faces.
Afterwards, audience member Jason Lee discussed Rape Casserole's set from behind the vapor of his electronic cigarette: "I feel like the humor really tied it all together, like one of those '90s joke bands who play all different genres, or like The Dead Milkmen."
Savior Serpent played second, featuring heavy jams with a fair amount of synth, breaking it up only for a minute or two to play a country tune. What minimal vocals the band's songs had, vocalist Paddy Flynn forgot the words to, instead brushing it off with aggressive guitar playing that held its own against the backdrop of Tex Bosley's spot-on drumming. "Sorry we're not funny," Flynn said after several songs. The crowd laughed.
"We called practice early, at about 5:45 today," said Bosley. "We all came to the conclusion that it was going to take us at least two more weeks to get these songs where they need to be."
A quick intermission drew Porter and Neal back to the stage to give the Rock Lottery many thanks, including the 15 to 20 of the schoolteachers who were standing around the room. "Glad you're enjoying the show. Drink up, everyone," Porter said. "We'll worry about the drive home later. I'll take you all home. I have a Saturn!"
Brave Combo's Ginny Mac began the accordion intro for her band Bacchanalia, the third act of the night, as Rob Buttrum's drums and Adrian Ordones' synth began to build. Deep Throat's Taylor Kimbrough used mic effects to give the band's three songs a gothic, space-punk vibe. Loud and ethereal, the band's songs were good, but bled into one another. In a quick introduction of the next band, Porter hopped onstage to say that sometimes the Rock Lottery gods work in mysterious ways: "Sometimes you get lineups like these, where they're like, 'We don't need any fucking guitars.'"
Out of the five members that made up the fourth band, A Rising Beacon of Enlightenment Chamber Orchestra, not a single person had a guitar. A violin, bass clarinet, saxophone, cello and drum set made the quintet into more of an orchestra. Drummer Jeff Barnard of Dust Congress used a rain stick to set the tone for their first movement, slowly easing Darcy Neal's electric cello into play. Saxophone player Mike Forbes raised maracas to the mic as Petra Kelly accompanied the cello with her violin. The buildup eventually exploded into a fast-paced dance of sounds that ended with Forbes violently shaking maracas that sounded like rattlesnakes.
For the concluding act of Rock Lottery 11, Doug Burr headed up The Ghost of John Bonerz Denton, which served as the perfect high-energy ending. James Washington's keys gave the band a modern twist, and laughter poured through Dan's as the highly intoxicated crowd put their hands together for the band's chant about UNT football: "You gotta SEE UNT football! SEE UNT football!"
As soon as the smooth '60s jazz came over the PA, a twinge of sadness came over me. I wished the bands could keep going. Crowds of people lingered around the bar until past closing time, repeating Rape Casserole and The Ghost of John Bonerz Denton's lyrics. Even after eleven seasons of the lottery, it never gets old. Echoing Iles' statement from earlier in the day, it still holds, is still relevant.