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.
They took the stage at a small auditorium on campus. Family members and friends showed up, and patches of students who didn’t seem directly affiliated with anyone. Overall, the crowd had to have numbered nearly 100—far from a huge crowd, but perfectly respectable and more than she had necessarily expected.
They opened on “Good Old A Cappella” with Josh on the solo, Amanda handling vocal percussion. It was a joy to watch Josh on that song, his big solo from junior year of high school. He worked the stage with perfect ease, and let his voice flow out with a lack of restraint he never demonstrated during rehearsals. The group kept up with the song, a simple arrangement with very little to mess up.
They moved on to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Josh had reasoned that, while the song was too slow to open on, they would keep it toward the front—they weren’t going to hide from past failures. Sure enough, things clicked this time, and as though Josh had thrown down a gauntlet on the first solo, Andrew sang with a flourish for this one, positively nailing it.
They worked through their seven song set, culminating with a new number. It was the only original arrangement Josh had shared with the group since it started up, and the only one with any real semblance of choreography. It also involved switching off soloists.
“Don’t you think this is a little complicated for them?” Amanda asked him after the rehearsal when he introduced the Doobie Brothers song. He hadn’t shared it with her in advance, by his own account, had stayed up to all hours of the night finishing the arrangement the night before, and even going so far as to assign who would sing which parts of the solo.
“I don’t,” Josh had said. “I think that’s the problem. We’re playing it too safe, being too careful, and as a result no one’s having fun. We need to mix it up.”
They started out chorally, singing those iconic words, “Whoa-oh-oh, listen to the music.” In a rare occurrence, the blend sounded perfect, and it occurred to Amanda that the song might actually work.
Evangeline took the first leg of the solo. Josh had explained that she was the surest bet to come out with confidence and energy, besides which she hadn’t had a solo up to that point. “We gotta let the music play. Oh yeah,” she sang, before seamlessly passing the mic back to Russ. Right on cue, he picked up, “What the people need is a way to make them smile.”
They sang as one again on the chorus, then transitioned to Andrew up front, then Katie. They worked their way through every individual singer, always coming back to the group. The choreography was simple, and the group did it well. It occurred to Amanda that Josh had been right—that the group needed to try something different. She watched Katie shimmy to one side, then slip into the prescribed box step and smiled. She looked good, but all the more so, she looked like she was having fun.
On the last chorus, Josh stepped apart from the group and clapped his hands high and hard over his head. Sure enough, the crowd joined him, clapping along. It wasn’t perfect—by the end, the group had grown a little off key, and the crowd, for its best efforts, was a little off beat. Regardless, Amanda recognized this song, this performance for what Josh had intended. It was exactly what the group needed, and an ideal closer.
After the last repetition of “listen to the music,” the group fell out, leaving Evangeline alone to sing, “all the time.” The crowd didn’t even wait for to finish before applauding in what were the beginnings of a standing ovation.