AWOL audience


Bands log countless hours driving across the country to play shows for their fans. Some tours travel across the entire United States, which creates thousands of miles and hundreds of hours. However, most bands claim it’s all worth it. But when the band arrives at a venue to be greeted by 30 fans, it’s disappointing.

That’s exactly what happened Tuesday, Sept. 20. Internationally acclaimed pop-punk outfit Forever The Sickest Kids came to Brookings as a part of the AT&T Campus VIP Neon Party. My group of friends and I were among the first people at the Swiftel Center and we all hoped that more people would appear. But only a few more attendees showed up, landing the total at a resounding 30.

Due to the lack of people, we were all able to take up the front (and only) row. If the band was disappointed in the turnout, they didn’t show it. They took this opportunity to interact with fans. A girl in the crowd requested a song that the band had never practiced, let alone played live. They took this in stride when instead of stumbling through the song, drummer Kyle Burns pulled up the song on his MacBook and the entire band simply synched through it.

“Never has a band done lip synching, guitar synching, bass synching and drum synching, all at once, until 5 minutes ago #SouthDakotaFTSK,” tweeted Burns.

The excitement didn’t end after the music, though. The band didn’t have to leave until the next afternoon, so instead of the usual pack-up and leave routine, the band hung around and met all the people still at the venue.

Frontman Jonathan Cook then proposed to go to Applebee’s. The crowd had dwindled to around six people and shortly, a caravan of rockstars and awestruck fans wandered into the restaurant. During this time, I sat and talked with bassist Austin Bello.

“You know, we’re so used to playing huge shows. We’ve played to over 25,000 people and we’ve played all around the world. It’s amazing,” Bello said.

“However, I remember shows like this from when we first started. I was 19, just like some of you. And it reminds us that every crowd is important. Every fan brought us to where we are today. Do I wish more kids could have been here? Sure. But being able to do things like go out to dinner with our fans is something we haven’t done in a while, and this was a lot of fun.”

Brookings wasn’t the only stop on the tour with a small crowd. Guitarist and vocalist Caleb Turman said Chicago is one of the band’s greatest stops. They often play two sold-out shows, but only 70 people showed up to hear them play.

“I don’t mind intimate shows, but come on,” Turman said. “I’d expect better, especially from Chicago.”

Fan support was there to make the South Dakota show a significant event, Turman said.

“I have tweets come to me from all over South Dakota of kids begging us to come, and only 30 kids showing up tonight was dumb. This wasn’t anyone’s fault except the promotion company, whoever they are.”

I found out about the show through a friend who heard about it through his girlfriend.

“I thought the lack of attendance was really disappointing from the band’s perspective of things,” said SDSU student, Christina Engeman. “But as a fan, I really enjoyed the small, intimate show. It was a unique experience that not a lot of fans get. The set was great and the guys are amazing individuals with true talent. I just wish more people would’ve been there to support them and have a fun time.”

Dallas-based Forever The Sickest Kids was founded in 2006. Since then, they have released two full-length albums and three EPs. Their most recent self-titled album dropped on March 1, 2011.