So that was something. The second Big Show was better than the first, flat-out. Just from my own vantage point, there were way fewer bands I didn't like (didn't even need one hand to count 'em) and far more that I thought were just fantastic. The League raised the bar pretty high.
I won't do a play-by-play with every band, that'd be ridiculous. But the show started off strong, with three excellent bands in a row. VCR Head Cleaner surprised everyone present with a drum-less five-piece lineup, performing bluegrassy songs on the Beachland Tavern Stage, with credible vocal harmonies and cardboard box percussion. Rumor has it this band will continue post-league. I hope so. Red Resonant Skywalker followed, on the All Go Signs stage in the Beachland Ballroom. I was disappointed that the five-piece band that was originally drafted was whittled down to three members during the League's ten-week lifespan, but as two of those members are justly legendary old-timers and their drummer is a monster, the combination remained potent, delivering dense and twisty stoner-epics like it was no big deal. Next, christening the Beachland Ballroom main stage (decorated to the hilt by Big Fun's Steve Pressler), was the Redd Foxx Memorial Band & Tre Fa Ha La Orchestar, a five-piece that featured baritone guitar, vibrophone and R&B/hip-hop vocals. Their set came up significantly short of its ten-minute allotment, so they were permitted to extemporize, and they pulled an AMAZING improv out of their asses.
Other highlights included Tape Worms, with the New Lou Reeds' Stephe DK out in front, and the man was flat-out on FIRE. Black Moon played a set of pokey, lonesome and very, very beautiful countrified depresso-rock. Milk Thrøat combined sludge rock with sparse, atmospheric keyboard punctuations. World War V turned the Ballroom into a deeply fucked-up beach party. Sausage Pilot distinguished themselves both by kicking high ass and by destroying the League's shared bass drum halfway through their first song. Lesson: Don't give a half-dead drum head to Steve Mehlman. Hut Hut Hike and Volcano Fortress followed, both showcasing extremely capable pop songs that could/should have come from much more seasoned groups.
I heard a lot of overwhelmingly positive things about my own band, Isle of Eyelids, but since I was really in no position to evaluate us, I'll leave us for others to describe. Drugs for Everybody, despite their lysergic name and the presence of the trip-friendly guitarist Noah Hrbek, turned out to be a joyous and lively sock-hop for the demented. The Beat Vikings lived up to the expectations befitting their incredibly strong lineup. The Elks, despite their gimmicky lodge-rock concept, would have to have tried pretty hard to suck; their members were drawn from the ranks of the Whiskey Daredevils, the Chargers, Self Destruct Button and Stimulus Package. But they're extra-worthy of note because guitarist Matt Jauch broke his ankle and collarbone in a cycling accident less than a week before the show, but played anyway. And kicked ass. We wish him a speedy recovery.
Lastly, there were the Newdicals. Turning the bait-and-switch they pulled on this blogger on its ass, they put on an elaborate, theatrical show featuring a massive puppet, literally almost the entire height of the Beachland Ballroom, stage-to-ceiling. It was easily one of the biggest spectacles Cleveland indie music had ever seen, and a fitting end to a looooong day of wonderful surprises and excellent rock.
So of course there are pictures. Mine, I will admit right out of the gate, suck. I spotted Lou Muenz, Steve Barrett, Rose Marincil and Mike Levy there with cameras, and hopefully they'll be posting some Lottery League pics, because theirs are surely better than mine. (In my weak defense, I was using a borrowed camera I hadn't much idea how to properly use. Sorry.) And of course, if you haven't friended the League on Facebook, doing so will give you access to plenty of pics and videos. I tried but failed to get shots of every band, so if a band isn't represented here, it's because I just didn't get any passable shots of it, not because I disliked it (likewise for the loose narrative above, by the way - I liked a lot of stuff I didn't single out). And lastly, this will be the final post on this blog, which was intended to be as temporary as the League itself. I greatly enjoyed visiting all those bands, and I sincerely hope you enjoyed coming along with me. And thanks very much for reading. —Kretsch