Band Lottery: Show Up, Hang Out, Form a Band

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Photo by Katie Michel | The Bottom Line

Raymond Matthews
Staff Writer

While UCSB hosts multiple concerts and performances that cater to diverse audiences, if you aren’t a music major or a classically trained musician, you may find it hard to get involved in performing arts here on campus and in the Isla Vista community. Fortunately, now there’s a way for students and community members alike to write and perform their own music thanks to Isla Vista’s first annual Band Lottery.

Hosted on Saturday, Mar. 2,  at the Biko Garage, the Band Lottery was a unique event that started out with multiple solo musicians and ended with fully formed bands. Attendees simply filled out a form, naming their favorite music genres and bands, and the event’s organizers sorted them into bands based on instruments and music tastes.

One of the Lottery’s organizers, Spencer Milano, in an interview with The Bottom Line, described it as “a place for musicians to network with each other … Sometimes that means talking to people you never normally would, and that’s what makes for really interesting bands.”

Milano is the former head of a local arts and entertainment center known as Funzone that hosted film screenings, art workshops, and networking events such as the Band Lottery in the lower east side of Santa Barbara from 2014 to 2017.

When Milano chose to leave Funzone and reestablish the Band Lottery at UCSB, the Biko Co-op seemed like a perfect venue for it, saying that it “hosts so many workshops and creative events a lot like Funzone used to do.”

This event was in high demand among students who love music but don’t identify with the more traditional, classic music styles that UCSB normally showcases. When asked about the music environment here at UCSB, second year sociology major Solay Midas said that she hasn’t “really been exposed to many different kinds of music outside of the music minor, and [she] definitely [hasn’t] found any performance groups outside of the music department that [she] could join or would want to join.”

“I’ve been thinking about starting what I’ve been calling my fantasy band for a while now,” continued Midas, “but there haven’t really been any kind of networking events or meetings for people with mutual interests where music is concerned, which is why I think that things like the band lottery should be happening a lot more here in I.V. and on campus.”

But the event didn’t just attract students and Isla Vista residents. Steven Johnson, an audio engineer from Ventura, said that the band lottery “was the closest place to come out and meet new people that might share similar interests.”

Johnson elaborated, “I come out to Santa Barbara and Isla Vista a lot to see the local bands and for the most part I really enjoy the music scene here. It’s been a good long time since I’ve been in a band, and right now I’m interested in niche music, so I like old school folksy stuff that not a lot of people play nowadays and I figured that something like this was my best shot at meeting people who might be interested in the same kind of music.”

One might assume that a band lottery would appeal to traditional rock musicians, but according to Milano, “A ton of really niche genre bands have come out of the lottery in the past. We’ve had folk rock bands, screamo fans, punk rockers, and electro-pop groups come together. It really just depends on the unique pool of people that we get in a given year.”

The Biko Garage was filled with excitement and anticipation as attendees waited to meet their future bands and organizers arranged musicians into groups like Harry Potter sorting hats. As the bands were announced, each musician lit up, and all launched into discussions about their favorite bands and the new music they were excited to make together.

If the excitement and chemistry between these new bands is at all indicative of how they’ll play together, then the Band Lottery will introduce new, refreshing sounds to the Isla Vista community for all to hear in the near future. Fans of local talent can eagerly await more garage shows, SoundCloud albums, and house concerts from these student groups as a result of UCSB’s first Band Lottery.