I am not a first-timer — I was involved in the 2008 inaugural iteration of this monstrous undertaking, wrote about it for the then-extant Cleveland Free Times, and was honored to be asked to lend a hand in the making of the League’s compilation CD in 2009. I’ve agreed to blog the Lottery League for Scene this year. I was supposed to blog the process in 2008, but I dropped it after a couple of posts. I will not be bailing out like that this year, as my boss will not let me. My hopes here are to familiarize non-CLEfolk with a transcendentally amazing indie scene that remains frustratingly obscure beyond the borders of Cuyahoga County and to give an admittedly slanted peek into the workings of an incredible event.
I’ll rehash the League comp CD liner notes for the uninitiated (though you should of course buy the CD for the full story, nudge nudge): the Cleveland Lottery League started in late 2007, when six CLE indie-scene habitués bemoaned the tribal tendencies of rock recidivists, and hit upon the notion of a lottery as a way to reshuffle things and force collaborations between strangers. The Lottery took place on February 2, 2008 (Groundhog Day has a weird significance to this crew, which I’ll maybe cover in a later post), and resulted in 33 new bands from 144 musicians. All these new bands had 10 weeks to concoct a 10-minute set with at least one original group composition. (As it turned out, every group did all originals, the sole possible exception being mighty debatable — the band Boris Karloff's version of "Monster Mash" was entirely too fucked-with to properly count as a cover.)
At the end of the 10 weeks, on April 12, 2008, all 33 bands played one giant show with three stages. Nobody flat-out sucked it, and some went completely all-out. Homelesssexual performed with an accompanying narrative film. Semper Fi staged a fake war-on-terror battle (I’m pretty sure Iraq won, but honestly, I’d had a few drinks by then, so who knows?). Rad Bathhouse performed in ancient Roman costumes. Stimulus Package, Mohammed Cartoon, Free Moments and Hapsburg Lip were so completely fucking excellent it strained belief to think that their members had only been introduced a couple of months beforehand. It was one of the single greatest days in CLEmusic history, and we’re doing it again this year. Big Show Mk. II is on April 10 at the Beachland Temple of Rockawesome. You can follow the action here, or at clevescene.com/lottery, so watch this space. — Kretsch