On the first anniversary of the May 22, 2011 tornado that devastated Joplin, about 8,000 people flooded the streets of the city and Cunningham Park for an emotional remembrance of the day and the people they lost.
And in Springfield, a smaller group of people helped Joplin in a more roundabout way. Rock-band Incubus, who played Drury University’s O’Reilly Family Event Center that very night, had put a number of meet-and-greet 0pportunities up for auction on eBay, with nearly $3,000 in proceeds going to the CFO’s Joplin Recovery Fund. The band’s Make Yourself Foundation – named after its breakthrough album – does this for almost every concert, and representatives felt playing on the anniversary of the tornado, with the show close to Joplin, was the right fit.
“We have a unique and blessed opportunity to share music with people and occasionally the need arises to share more than sound!” lead singer Brandon Boyd said. “Having seen the now infamous footage of that fateful day in Joplin, we just felt like it was a wonderful chance to bring some light into an otherwise tragic situation. It is our pleasure to be of service here and we are so looking forward to bringing music to you guys as well! Thank you for the opportunity!”
On the night of the concert, more than two dozen Incubus diehards assembled for the meet-and-greet and autograph session, which included a photo with band members. As they waited for sound-check to end (they also got first admission to the arena when the gates opened), they talked about the auction and the tornado’s anniversary.
Karl Steinlage, from St. Louis, had purchased the meet-and-greet tickets for his brother and sister, twins Curtis and Margo, for their birthday, though he didn’t have a pass for himself. The fact that the money went to help Joplin only made the decision easier. “Joplin has been everywhere,” said Curtis Steinlage. “Even in St. Louis, news of it was everywhere, and you head about it on the radio. It’s neat that they did this.”
Meredith, who also drove down from St. Louis, appreciated the Joplin donation as well. “It made it very personal. You see (the Make Yourself Foundation) giving to all of these big charities, so it was really cool that this went to something so local and close to home.”
During the meet-and-greet there was a lot of excitement; Incubus has one of the more avid followings of bands from its era, and many fans were meeting the guys for the very first time.
Among them was Ashley Erikson, who had graduated from Missouri Southern State University, in Joplin, only three days earlier. She and her friend had planned to go to the walk and memorial in Cunningham Park, but when her friend purchased the concert and meet-and-greet tickets for her instead, she felt it was a way to honor and help Joplin, and have fun at the same time.
“I want to remember, but I don’t want to be sad,” she said. “There’s no point when you can (help out and still) celebrate.”