Thursday, May 12, 2005
“We need someone to perform at the Middle Grade Dance this Saturday,” The Headmaster announced this to the newly eight-piece UTurn in his office.
Alyson, along with her bandmates, stared at him with a mixture of shock and exhaustion. It was the band’s first gig since the beginning of the year, and it was their first as an eight-piece group. All of this was sprung onto them so suddenly. They hadn’t even had the time to rehearse! The only person missing in the room was Riley, who was in her high school in Worcester.
Andrew asked, “So why are you coming to us? We just added two new people to our band literally yesterday.”
“The band for the event suddenly dropped out on us. And we couldn’t hire Libby’s group since they’re gone now.”
Derrick scoffed, “You mean my band was the one who dropped out?”
“Exactly!” the Headmaster replied.
Alyson said, “Well, we’re a signed band now, so we need to be paid.”
The Headmaster sighed, “How much?”
She said with a smug smirk on her face, “A hundred dollars per hour, per person. And we use the locker-room as our personal dressing room.”
The Headmaster sighed again. Before anyone knew it, the school bell rang, warning everyone to get to their classes as soon as possible. Alyson stood up as she picked up her pink messenger bag. She told the middle-aged man, “Well, we got class. It’s in our contract to finish high school on time.”
With that, Alyson walked out of the office with her bandmates following her. She heard Amanda muttering, “We’re gonna look like shit.”
Alyson said, “We just have to rehearse like crazy. Get all four of you to mesh with us.”
“But we’re are not familiar with your songs. We haven’t even recorded anything yet.”
Alyson stopped walking to face Amanda. “Look, we’ll just get our old backup band, teach you the dance routines and give you all parts! How hard can it be?”
Justin chimed in, “Amanda’s got a point. We just added four more people to our band. No way they’ll become pros by Saturday.”
Bailey added, “Besides, everyone has heard all of our songs. We should give the audience, at least, one new song.”
Stacie jumped in, “We could use one of the 4Gurlz songs.”
Amanda scoffed, “Seriously? None of you could write a decent song!”
Stacie crossed her arms. “Blame Libby. She insisted on being the only songwriter of the band.”
“Wouldn’t Libby be pissed about that?”
“Yeah, but who cares about her feelings.”
“Look,” Alyson interrupted, “we’ll sing a 4Gurlz song for the show. And we’ll also perform some of our fans’ favorites. Maybe thrown one Pushers song. Is that fine with everyone?”
“Shouldn’t we run this by Riley?” Amanda asked.
“She’ll be fine with this,” Alyson replied.
Andrew and Alyson watched their bandmates go over one of the dance routines for one of their songs that evening. UTurn didn’t get their choreographer yet as Marcel was still getting everything together. He was okay with the gig, but he didn’t like that it was such a last-minute option. Neither did everyone else, but at least it was the band’s very first paid gig.
As a result, Andrew and Alyson had to become UTurn’s temporary choreographers, and Andrew had to also be the vocal coach. So far, most of their chosen set of eight songs were sung by everyone, or at least attempted to. Alyson made sure everyone had a part. She didn’t want another Holly Ryson of Connect8 situation where someone would be pushed to the back.
So far, only Derrick didn’t want to either sing or dance. He would either stand there or sway like some lanky tree. His face was clear he didn’t want to do any of this. Amanda, on the other hand, had been cooperating, though one could tell she wasn’t crazy about the song choices. She clearly didn’t like that one of The Pushers songs were given choreography.
Andrew rolled his eyes at their attitude, so he made a “time-out” gesture with his hands. “Amanda, Derrick, come forward.”
The two walked up to him by dragging their feet. Andrew glared at them, and said, “Look, it’s kind of obvious you two were forced into this band. My guess it was either Ethan or Libby who put you two up to it.”
Amanda said, “I was already thinking about joining the band. Derrick here was obviously blackmailed to join.”
Derrick rolled his eyes as Andrew continued: “But Alyson allowed you two join the band, and you signed her contracts to take this seriously. You can’t drop out unless she says so, and I know for a fact she won’t. So you two better drop your shit-faced attitudes, and act like you’ve been dying to be in UTurn.”
Amanda sighed heavily as Derrick told him, “Look, the music you all do is pure Hollywood shit. None of this have substance! It’s all about looking fake and plastic!”
Andrew said with irritation in his voice, “Yeah, it is all fake and plastic, and we’re all gonna be even more fake. But at least we get to do what we love. Now start acting you like you wanted to be in this band.”
The two walked back to the rest of band. Alyson stood next to Andrew and whispered, “Those two are gonna pains in our asses.”
Andrew whispered back, “I know, but we’ll make sure we keep them in line.”
UTurn were in the locker-room, getting ready for Beacon Hill Secondary’s Middle Grade Dance. It was a spring dance for the grades seven to ten on a Saturday evening. It served as a younger version of the prom.
Alyson looked at her bandmates. They were all dressed in their typical, though slightly nicer, clothes. They didn’t have enough time to create a uniformed look; and they couldn’t retrieve their costumes from New England’s Teen Superstar. Everything looked incoherent; from Amanda and Derrick dressed like anime emos to everyone else dressed like preppy, trendy teenagers. It was a slightly jarring experience.
She sighed, and said, “Okay, this is our first performance as an eight-piece, and our first paid gig. We start the show off with that 4Gurlz song, and we’ll go into that Pushers song. So let’s kick some ass tonight. Got it?”
Amanda said in a snarky tone, “At least the lyrics are better now in that song.”
Alyson smirked, “That’s because Andrew and I made the changes.”
Derrick rolled his eyes, “Let’s just get out there.”
Alyson told him, “But first we put our hands in the middle, and we all say UTurn.”
With that, Derrick, Amanda, and even Riley stared at her. Bailey told them, “It’s a thing we’ve been doing for months now.”
The three weren’t impressed, but they went along with it.
“Everyone,” the student government’s vice president announced, “scream for UTurn!”
Most of the students screamed, while the rest just stood there in the middle of the gym. UTurn ran onto the stage, started performing their new song, You Got Me Good. Stacie sang the majority of the song, while Alyson and Amanda sang the bridges, and the boys did a rap together. It had a pop-rock sound, but that was because they had a backing band.
Everyone was quite into the song, as it was a new song by UTurn. Libby, who was standing by the punch table, glared at the eight-piece. How dare they steal the song she wrote herself? She wrote that song, now the lyrics were changed! She even sang the original content herself while the other girls sang backup. Now Stacie was the lead; the Queen Bee and the emo sang; and there was even a new rap part done by the boys! It wasn’t fair!
“Nice song, yeah?”
Libby turned to see Ethan standing next to her. She glared at him, and said, “That was my song! They fucking stole my song!”
Ethan chuckled, “And apparently they made it better.”
She pouted, “But it’s my song!”
“You were the one who decided to destroy your own band.”
“Just so I can join UTurn!”
“And now here you are, standing by the punch bowls, and sulking like you’re some five-year-old.”
Libby rolled her eyes as she leaned on the table. She noticed UTurn began performing a song from The Pushers. It was unusual, shocking even! One would expect boos, but no, it just made everyone scream for them even more. The entire scene made her want to hurl into the colorful punch bowls behind her. She noticed Ethan pouring in some kind of liquid into one of them.
He looked up, and smirked. “Gotta get everyone to loosen up here.”
“You do know we got a bunch of twelve-year-olds in the gym, right?”
Suddenly his eyes widened, as if he realized what he had just done. He grabbed the bowl and walked out of the gym. As if she ran out of energy to roll her eyes, she did so at his immaturity and ignorance.
She looked back at UTurn. She looked at Derrick and Amanda. Their faces looked unimpressed, but they seemed to be trying to mesh with their new bandmates. It was like they hated the idea of being in an all-vocal-and-dance pop group, but they were willing to make their new situation work. They had to anyway; they were clearly stuck in this for the long run. Still, Libby was curious to know how long that was going to last.