PT 2: A Chance Lockdown
You might be surprised, but it turns out a lot changed about everything once everyone was inside for three months straight.
We watched lockdown come slowly. One of my teachers even chided us on that last Friday for even the idea that the school was going to close at all. That was the last time I ever saw him, along with most of my other teachers.
I picked up a shift for that next Wednesday at my retail job, and woke up that day to a message that said it was the last day my store would be open for the next 2 weeks. I went in for my shift, sanitized the counter after ever customer, and finished off the last day of work I would have for about 3 months. If you needed a reminder – it was a crazy time.
Anyway, remember that band I was talking about last time? In what would probably be one of the quickest and smartest moves made by up and coming music groups at this time, they immediately started doing music livestreams. It really was brilliant – the audience was captive, bored and nervous. And at the level of fame they were at, it allowed for great grassroots connections to their fans.
And remember that fan groups that I tried to make last week? In what I would call a similar dazzling, burst of brilliance – I threw the link for it in their livestream chat a couple times, hoping to snag a few teenagers that liked music and were just as bored as I was, with no school, no work, no nothing. Probably one of my first marketing moves, really.
But I still wasn’t expecting the outcome from this. People started flooding in immediately. And not just random accounts – active fans, excited fans, and bored fans. Mostly high schoolers and college students too, who were all in a very similar situation.
This was just a small segment of intros, but every time there was a live stream, 20-50 new people were joining. It was an exciting time, since this is what I wanted. But most importantly, it was something to do. People to talk to. I had friends in high school – but they weren’t the type of people that were easy to keep up with, or really knew how to keep in touch when we weren’t forced to see each other everyday.
Lo and behold, this random server I had made a year and a half before became my lifeline. Over all of March, April and May, I spent every night with about 10-15 other high schoolers who were in the same position that I was. They were from all over the US – kids from Alabama, New Mexico, Tennessee, California, New Jersey, etc.
I became super close to all of these people, and spent nights on video calls and days texting and talking with them. We played lots of Jackbox games, started an extensive Minecraft server, and looking back, just generally had a lot of fun during an uncertain and scary time. It’s hard to fully explain how close I became with this handful of other fans at this time.
During this same time, the band members joined as well. As much as I had made the server just for community, looking back I realize how essential this probably was for and up-and coming band. They were able to now have a dialogue with fans in a casual and less hierarchal way.
They continued doing live streams throughout the pandemic, and we even used the server to facilitate a game night with the band members and some fans. (More selfishly I also set up a game night with the band members and my friends for one of my online friend’s birthday!).
In the meanwhile, with this new group of friends, we vicariously lived out our missing high school graduation experience. We even had an e-prom, where we all got on a video call and dressed in our old prom clothes. It was silly, but it also was something that made a night feel special among a long series of nights where nothing at all happened.
Something that I considered excluding from this post because of how embarrassing it is in hindsight was that my first long-term relationship even sprang from this group of friends.
What it meant was that my first year of college consisted of a lot of weekend trips to Tennessee and South Carolina. I remember most fondly a road trip from Charlotte, to Nashville, and finally to Auburn, Alabama in order to crash for a couple of nights with two of our other friends from this same server. Really, I did a lot of traveling because of this. I got to see a lot of places I would never have otherwise – Williamsburg, Chesapeake Bay, etc. Probably my favorite was spending a few days at a crowded lakehouse, completely off-grid in the valleys of the Smokey Mountains.
While the relationship didn’t last (despite everything, LDRs really suck!). I had so many great experiences and padded my portfolio with a bunch of work for small groups in Tennessee that I developed connections with.
After that, my interest in the Happy Fits diminished. They had a new sound by the time their 2021 album released, and honestly I’m not sure if I even listened to the new album all the way through at any point. Caught up in real-life, I didn’t have time to maintain the server anymore. Despite this, it’s still extremely active and had over a thousand members. Even just today I checked in and saw some people (no one that I even recognized) playing games in a voice chat.
A few months ago I went to another of their shows, mostly just because another set of online friends would be at the Chicago show. The room was huge, packed and sold out. Having only every seen them in dive bars, I genuinely got emotional. Partially because I couldn’t believe how crowded it was, and partially because I realized how much I hated the crowding, and that this would probably be the last time I would every see them life – at least for a long time.
I don’t really have a point to this story, just that it’s crazy that so much changed and influenced my life after high school that started from a random fruit-themed band. Looking back through old chat logs, I thought that this quote was especially circular, and the best way to end off my story in a way that I am unable to.