A small-town music scene sometimes gets a whole lot like a high school cafeteria. The goth nerds sit at one table, the punks at another, the metalheads are out smoking in the parking lot, the indie rockers are preening in the bathroom. (Metaphorically, of course.) But when the cliques are upheaved and rearranged in a melting pot, musical magic can happen.
At least, something I’d call magic happened at the inaugural Rock Lotto in February 2013, in which musicians who signed up were randomly assigned into bands and given a few weeks to come up with original songs and play a show. The event wound up more raucous than many of us anticipated, although I suspect that Rock Lotto founder and coordinator (and former Indy staffer) Jason McMackin knew what he was doing.
Allow me to quote myself from a Missoula Punk News blog post recapping the first Lotto: “When people decide something is truly for kicks and give up ideas of being a ‘serious’ band or whatever, some really rad shit happens. Risks are taken. Union suits are worn. Goofy British accents are used. I, personally, wouldn’t be averse to each and every one of the bands that played to continue. I should have gotten a Traumaboner shirt.”
And that was just last year, when nobody really understood what this Rock Lotto thing was supposed to be. Now, people get it, and they’re stoked. Just check out the Rock Lotto II Facebook event, where some bands have already posted promo photos. Excellent names abound, like Tupack Shakers, Mark Heyka Overdrive, Public Anemone and Worf of Wall Street. Subtlecock is already silkscreening shirts.
This year has the added bonus of being for a good cause besides just general amusement. Proceeds go toward Lost Sounds Montana, musician Dave Martens’ project to collect memorabilia and recordings from Montana bands of the 20th century and onward. It’s refreshing to remember all the cool, creative minds who have made our small-town scenes vibrant—and to party down with the people who still are.—Kate Whittle