The Unauthorized History of the Acapocalypse

The Unauthorized History of the Acapocalypse – Part 20

Every a cappella group has a story. In this unique, episodic, narrative feature we will trace the formation and first, tumultuous year in the history of the fictional Acapocalypse.

Josh stumbled off the elevator. He had made it to his floor of the hotel without incident, playing sober all the way from the bar through the lobby. The floor was cleared out, and though he still heard the chatter of other members of The Acapocalypse as he wandered past their doors, he felt confident no one would see him in his current state.

He had disappeared into the bathroom at the bar, and could only assume the group thought he went back to his room. Instead, he crouched over a toilet and puked out all of the night’s beer and disappointment. He proceeded to fall asleep with his head on the toilet seat. When he woke, he wasn’t sure how long he had been there. When he came out, no one he knew was left at the bar.

Josh got to the room he was sharing with Carrie and was relieved to find that he still had his key card in his shirt pocket. He almost had it in the lock when he paused, putting an ear to the door. There was no sound from within, and he reasoned that she must have been upstairs for hours by then, and was probably fast asleep.

The Unauthorized History of the Acapocalypse – Part 19

Every a cappella group has a story. In this unique, episodic, narrative feature we will trace the formation and first, tumultuous year in the history of the fictional Acapocalypse.

Josh was not a big drinker. Living at home, going to community college meant he didn’t have a lot of opportunities to engage in that sort of thing, besides which he was always so busy he didn’t know when he would find time for it. But then, with The Acapocalypse out of competition, maybe he would find more time.

The group met up at the hotel bar and grill for a bite after the show. Russ ordered a few pitchers of beer, and no one seemed interested in carding the rest of the group. And so they drank.

“You guys were really amazing,” Carrie said. “And now that you have one competition under your belt, you’ll be even more prepared for next time.”

Josh nodded and took another gulp of beer. Since the show, Carrie had been a source of endless platitudes and reassurance. He knew she meant well, knew he probably shouldn’t be so disappointed at the group’s failure to advance in its first try. But this was all he had thought about for months—at the expense of his grades, his friendships, and, yes, his relationship. He didn’t know what to do if it was all gone.

The Unauthorized History of the Acapocalypse – Part 18

Every a cappella group has a story. In this unique, episodic, narrative feature we will trace the formation and first, tumultuous year in the history of the fictional Acapocalypse.

Evangeline’s friend Lucy sidled down the row of seats to reclaim her place next to Carrie on the auditorium. The two of them hadn’t met before that afternoon, when they joined The Acapocalypse at its meeting point at SCC to caravan to the evening’s competition. They were the only two people to go who didn’t belong to the group, and had become de facto friends. Carrie liked Lucy well enough, but despite their small talk, didn’t have a good enough sense of what she would find funny, or what kind of music she liked to make much conversation during breaks from the show.

Lucy had gotten up to brave the bathroom line during intermission. Carrie didn’t want to take chances on missing Josh’s set, so she stayed put for the duration and put her bladder on hold.

The Unauthorized History of the Acapocalypse – Part 17

Every a cappella group has a story. In this unique, episodic, narrative feature we will trace the formation and first, tumultuous year in the history of the fictional Acapocalypse.

The International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella quarterfinals marked the first time Evangeline had seen an a cappella competition. There was something strange about the experience of it—watching the first three groups perform, all college students all of whom, like The Acopacalypse, had traveled to perform for 12 minutes on that stage.

Evangeline wasn’t much for musical nuance—she preferred to take in the big picture of a performance, and wondered if the judges would ultimately determine results the same way, or if, on an unconscious level, there was any difference at all.

The Unauthorized History of the Acapocalypse – Part 16

Every a cappella group has a story. In this unique, episodic, narrative feature we will trace the formation and first, tumultuous year in the history of the fictional Acapocalypse.

All around Josh, eyes drooped, bodies sagged, and voices began to wane. Josh spun around, turning his back to the rest of The Acapocalypse, his hand spewing a whirl of chalk as he scrawled Xs and Os on the chalkboard at the front of the classroom, outlining where each of them would stand. He defied fatigue and restlessness. Boredom was a foreign concept. After all, the group was embroiled in its final rehearsal before competition.

It’s third hour of its final rehearsal before competition.

Josh felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to find Amanda there. “Maybe we oughta skip ahead,” she said, soft and low. “I think we’re losing people.” Josh looked out at the room again, and, indeed, everyone looked tired. Even Katie. Katie, who always paid attention. Katie who had arranged and choreographed the final song of their competition set. Katie, who he was depending on to explain the story of how she came to that song as a way to help them leave rehearsal energized and ready for their biggest stage.

Josh nodded. “OK, we’re going to leave that one alone,” he said to the group. “And we’re going to wrap up. Katie, you have the floor.”

To her credit, once Josh had cued her Katie sprang to her feet, looked like a new woman. “So Josh asked for me to talk with you all about our last song.”

After the explanation, the entire group stood again in formation. Josh counted off, then entered into his vocal cymbal routine. The group started soft before allowing its sound swell, bolstering Russ’s bass sound.

“Music shouldn’t be about singing a song you’ve heard before—about reciting lyrics,” Katie had said. “It should be about telling a story—remembering the emotion—remembering that, for someone listening, its probably the first time they’ve ever heard the story.”

The Unauthorized History of the Acapocalypse – Part 15

Every a cappella group has a story. In this unique, episodic, narrative feature we will trace the formation and first, tumultuous year in the history of the fictional Acapocalypse.

Katie’s father sipped from the champagne flute in one hand, and wrapped his other arm around her waist. It was always funny to her how much more openly affectionate he was in public than behind closed doors. In the private of the house they hardly talked, much less touched. “Now I’ll have you know that my daughter, despite having two years left in high school, is already taking college courses.”

“Is that so?” a round-faced man asked. He wore a maroon blazer and white button up shirt around his round frame. Her father looked more dapper in his blue pin stripes, and as much as Katie disliked it when her parents hosted a party, she like the new black cocktail dress her mother bought for her—long, sophisticated.

“Only community college, of course,” her father went on, “but she did pull a 4.0 for her first semester.”

Which meant she earned an A in the one class she took. Details. Katie caught a hint of Andrew bristling beside her at the comment about community college. She was thankful he remained quiet. Though Andrew was a full-time, matriculated student to SCC, he had explained time and again to anyone who would listen how it was a money-saving strategy and he had every intention of applying to Ivy League schools to finish his undergraduate career. To his credit, Andrew had earned a 4.0 with a full course load.

The Unauthorized History of the Acapocalypse – Part 14

Every a cappella group has a story. In this unique, episodic, narrative feature we will trace the formation and first, tumultuous year in the history of the fictional Acapocalypse.

The second time the The Acapocalypse performed in public, they had a true uniform. Josh had assigned Amanda the task of generating one, citing that she always had a better eye for that sort of thing. She had enjoyed the task—criticizing attire choices had been one of her favorite parts of going to ICCA shows in high school, but their faculty advisor had always relegated their own high school group to the same traditional navy blazers and dresses.

Amanda had decided everyone should dress in black, but that they would use the forest green color of SCC’s sports teams as a highlight. She found a cheap tie outlet on online to order enough for all of the guys, and found matching fabric at a local craft shop to form sashes, belts, and headbands for the women.

The Unauthorized History of the Acapocalypse – Part 13

Every a cappella group has a story. In this unique, episodic, narrative feature we will trace the formation and first, tumultuous year in the history of the fictional Acapocalypse.

Josh remembered a time when seeing great a cappella inspired him—when he would see a particularly effective performance and make note of parts thereof that he could adapt for his own group, or otherwise saw something creative and thought of his own outside-the-box ideas. Most of the times he had felt inspired in this way, it was after watching The Grand Standers in action. As he and Amanda filed out of the auditorium Friday night he felt shell-shocked. He was increasingly certain he’d never guide The Acapocalypse to that level of excellence, and maybe it was a lost cause even trying. Maybe all the group would do was embarrass itself in competition, and they were better off bowing out with a little bit of grace.

All of that, and he and Amanda still hadn’t talked about what happened between them a week earlier.

Amanda must have recognized what Josh was thinking—at least the parts about The Grand Standers. In the past, the two of them would rave about performances after the shows, debating the best soloists, or which song they presented the best, or which arrangement they liked the most. Each argument remained good-natured and well-supported because there was just so much to like about what the group did.

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