Now That I Found You
The worst rock show billing, or so they say, is second billing to the puppet show. The Nadas might argue otherwise.
I’m in the driver’s seat of Louise, The Nadas tour bus, which is parked outside Des Moines University. The boys are playing a Welcome Back picnic. And they’re none too thrilled.
I picked up a few sixes (Harp for Jason and me, Miller for Justin and Jon) mid set, which they appreciated, and cleaned the bus, which they didn’t notice.
Between sets, Justin explained the intricacies of beer dice (“Dude, they have brackets for that shit!”). Jon tells me groupie stories (“My groupies are either guys, or girls looking for Mike, he says”).
Tonight’s event is what I call a tough room, even though it’s outside. The students — osteopaths, all — are apathetic, at best. Worse, the gig started well before sundown. And there’s no booze.
I feel for the guys.
Later, I’m watching the merch table for Charidy when Jason calls me from the stage. “Can you come up here when you have a minute?” he asks. I leave the merch to Smitty, and strap on an acoustic. “What are we doing?” I ask. “Something that repeats a lot,” Mike answers.
Thirty seconds later I’m leading the band through “Do It Again,” which only Justin’s played before. My voice is shaky. My heart’s in my throat. I’m not making any eye contact. But when the band joins in, I start smiling like a ten-year-old. I start working the room. When Mike hits the solo, I start jumping around like I’m in Good Charlotte.
The band’s second set finds them performing for the die hards: fifty or so undergrads scattered on the grass before them. Though the band appears to be loathing the gig, they see the humor of it, and even begin to have a good time. I can’t help but smile. Mike does cartwheels. Jason makes up lyrics. They rise to the occasion.
Later, Jason and I drive the Sunbird to a bar around the corner called Wellman’s. Mike parks the bus parks on the street. The Nadas are on the jukebox when they walk in the door. Jason squelches my proposal to introduce them. A young DMU student name Dave is thrilled they’ve arrived, and keeps repeating, “You guys rock!” And they do. Because they can, even when they don’t want to.