Last time we left the band A Lot Like Pteris, they had just finished up the first two shows of their first-ever Neopian tour. They played Kiko Lake and Neopia Central, both of which were essentially hometown shows for them with an incredible turnout. They rocked the stages and everyone was left with amazing memories of the nights. But they had not yet gone up against an unfamiliar location, as they had played both those places in the past. Tonight is their first show outside of their comfort zone.
The band rolled up to Meridell in a little beat up van they were able to borrow from a friend for this set of shows. Meridell and Brightvale were so close they wanted to just drive between the two with all their equipment, and following those shows was a show in Darigan Citadel that they would also be able to get to easily due to proximity. They arrived at the venue, called the Potato Bowl. This was one of the smaller venues they would be visiting on the tour.
“I didn’t want to go with something too big early on, that way we would have time to build momentum with the crowds as word of mouth spread,” said Sergio. “As we play more and more shows, people on the neoBoards should be raving about the performances and influence others to buy tickets in the other cities.”
“Nah man, this would a good plan,” replied Roonimal.
“Yeah, I agree,” nodded Noah. “And this show is just about sold out now, so I think it was the perfect choice. I’d rather near sell out a small venue than to have a bunch of empty space in the room over at Farmer’s Sunrise.”
Farmer’s Sunrise was a larger venue in Meridell and quite famous for hosting some of Neopia’s largest pop sensations. It wasn’t quite the right fit for a punk band like them.
“We’re going to rock this place to the ground”, said Roonimal while spooning a fat hunk of baked potato into his mouth. The great thing about Potato Bowl is that they served unlimited potatoes to their performers.
“This is a great potato,” said Sergio who was chowing down on a plate of scalloped potatoes.
With bellies full of potatoes, the band gathered together backstage for their signature chant. Noah raised his hand up in the air first and the others joined in…
“A LOT LIKE PTERIS AIN’T NOTHIN’ TO MESS WITH!”
Noah and Sergio strapped on their instruments and walked out onto the stage, followed by Roonimal, and they were immediately greeted by…
A bunch of people staring at them. A couple people clapped, and a whistle could be heard in the distance, but it was clear there was not that instant love for them like they received at their hometown shows. This would be a crowd they would have to win over, and actually work to make that happen. Thankfully they were up to the challenge.
“You ready boys?” Noah looked back and smiled. Roonimal then started on the drums and the two others followed. Sound filled the room and the firm gazes of the crowd turned soft, their attention wrapped up in the band they were listening to so intently. People started dancing and going wild, and by the third song people were crowd surfing up to the front.
“He wants to take your land,
Take all of your hard work,
He wants to make it his,
Sloth wants to eat with your fork!
He’ll snatch the food right off your plates,
Demanding you give him all that you earned,
It’s time to unite, nail down what’s yours,
And leave that nasty tyrant with what he deserves…
This song resonated strongly with the people of Meridell. They are farmers by trade, most of them grow and pick all their own food. They know the value of a hard day’s work and earning your own keep, and bartering fairly with your neighbour. The people here are a community and know how to help each other out. This music was meant for them and they could feel it. The crowd went WILD.
After the show the band was mobbed by people from the crowd, asking for autographs and about how the album has already changed their lives so much. Young fans talking about how they are encouraging their teachers to talk more about Sloth and what he did, they want to learn about how he’s tampered with Neopia. Even beyond Sloth, they are trying to learn the history of the other things that have affected their homeland so they can prevent similar plights in the future.
After another successful show, they drove overnight to Brightvale.
“What an amazing show last night,” said Roonimal.
“I know!! I’m so excited for tonight,” said Noah, grinning. “I don’t know how the people of Brightvale will respond to us though.”
Brightvale is a land of wealthy, wealthy people. And in a lot of ways that is against what A Lot Like Pteris stands for. The greed of the rich is the direct enemy of the band. Most of Noah FX’s lyrics have to do with toppling Dr. Sloth, but a few songs advocate for the redistribution of wealth. And, controversially, there is a song on the album that is kind of like a demand to Brightvale to share some of their wealth with the significantly poorer farmers of nearby Meridell.
“We sold about 70% of the spots at this venue,” said Sergio while checking his spreadsheet. “It’s about the same size as the venue in Meridell, so the crowd will be smaller, but that’s okay.”
“How were album sales here,” asked Roonimal.
“Not so great, and there were a few people online calling for the record to be pulled from stores here,” Sergio said while rolling his eyes.
“Good, that is great press and shows that the rich are trying to silence us,” smirked Noah.
They arrived at the venue a few minutes before the show and noticed there were some people with signs outside shouting. The signs said things like “BAN A LOT LIKE PTERIS” and “A LOT LIKE PTERIS? MORE LIKE A LOT LIKE TRASH”.
A young girl with a faux leather jacket ran up to a protester and screamed, “DESTROY THE RICH!” The confrontation had started, but the protestors weren’t the slightest bit deterred by the young girl’s taunting.
“Let’s put on a good show for her, she’s the future,” said Sergio.
They got everything set up and walked out onto the stage to a half-empty room, even fewer people had shown up than they expected.
“Boo!” A few people were shouting and heckling from the crowd. They had only shown up to create problems for the band. They had seen some things online that they might encounter stuff like this here, so they were prepared.
“Thank you, everyone, for coming out,” Noah FX said into his microphone. “Thank you Brightvale for having us.”
And the music started…
“The farmers that provide your food are starving,
While your greed keeps your belly full,
It’s time to spread around wealth to those who need it most.
This is our time, our time, not yours!
We’ve got a mission to accomplish,
To feed the people of the world,
And if you won’t give us our fair pay,
There’s only one thing left we can do…”
As Noah was about to scream the next line, he saw the young girl from outside singing along to every word in the front row, and he got down on his knees and held the mic out to her, knowing she knew the words coming up next…
“DESTROY! THE! RICH!” She screamed with excitement.
The song ended and most of the crowd was booing, they hated it. It was such a controversial message because it was directly about the people in the crowd.
Obviously Noah FX and his band weren’t advocating harm to anyone, and especially not anyone eating someone else. The message was about making sure everyone was living well and well-fed. But that was lost on this crowd. Except for that young girl. And that is the only person in the room the band was really playing for. She was the future Brightvale needed.
The band stepped off stage that night with a sense of accomplishment. People in Brightvale had spent their time trying to tear them down, but they saw that one inspired face and it was all they needed to persevere onto the next show. All it takes is one happy fan to solidify the reason they put all this hard work in. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the message, and they felt even stronger in their message after their show in Brightvale.
They played the next night in Darigan Citadel to a packed venue, that show had sold out. It was a grand success and would be followed by a day off to rest and recuperate before another stretch of shows. It was rest they were definitely going to need, though they were not exactly aware of that at the moment. There was some drama to come during those next few shows.
To be continued…