While most kids were eager to play baseball, Nate Dorough was more concerned with Major League Baseball statistics. It wasn’t so much for watching the games as it was for his massive baseball card collection that reached to somewhere between 40,000-50,000 cards over the years.
Dorough’s mother worked next to a convenient store and would bring home packs of baseball cards for her son as a treat since he was about seven years-old.
“I still have most of those cards, and they’re not worth nearly what I thought they were when I was a kid. I miss the smell of ripping into a new pack though, especially when they still put gum in the packages,” Dorough told Amplify.
Those cards would go into binders and be organized by player stats, teams, etc.
“I think my overall skills of organizing and handling accounting and making bitchin’ spreadsheets came from hours and hours of sorting baseball cards, first by statistical categories when I was a kid, then trying to collect entire sets,” Dorough said.
Those skills have come in handy for Dorough as the President and Talent Buyer of Fusion Shows in Michigan.
“I’ve always been a numbers guy. I think this business is full of creative people who want someone else to do the numbers and spreadsheets for them,” Dorough said. “Having someone who helps an artist get the maximum dollar amount for themselves without sacrificing that artistic vision, that’s where I found my home.
Dorough found that niche after years of booking DIY shows in college and post-college like. It began with local bands in halls, recreational centers, and churches and, as Dorough put it, he learned from a lot of failures.
“I would throw a bunch of genres together and you could see the crowd become uninterested in a band and choose to go sit out on the sidewalk and chain-smoke cigarettes until another band that they liked came on,” Dorough explained. “We’d have these shows where there would be 150 local kids but there would be no more than 30-40 people in the room at any given point.”
As he was coming up from basement, DIY shows, he was using desk lamps for stage lighting and making other rookie mistakes.
“It was stupid shit like that, thinking ‘I know what a concert is supposed to look like but I only have $20 in my pocket. How can I recreate that?'” he said, adding now that he works in legitimate venues with professional lighting and sound, Dorough said “I just chuckle about that kind of stuff.”
Without any real mentors in the business, he discovered others he admired and continues to admire like Mike Barsch at Soda Jerk Presents, John Ugolini with Kickstand Productions, and the folks he works with now at Crofoot Presents.
“It was mostly going on the internet and figuring out where some of my favorite up and coming bands were playing in other markets and then being led to their websites,” Dorough said. “I could tell that they operated similar to the way I wanted to as far as the way they organized their data, the way they booked in multiple rooms, and worked in multiple markets.”
In late 2015, the Crofoot purchased Fusion Shows, giving both entities a larger stake in Michigan’s independent market. Combined the companies do 1,000 shows a year throughout the state. Amplify caught up with the numbers guy to learn about five of his favorite shows.
Foo Fighters at Lollapalooza Afterparty at The Metro in Chicago
Dave and the boys decided to break the record for the longest Foo Fighters show. I couldn’t hang. I was GA, the first set of tickets I had bought in a very long time (I made the whole office mash the refresh button during the on-sale and one of us miraculously got through!). It’s weird hanging out among the people when you spend so much time in an office in a basement of a venue, and I was surprised at my lack of stamina. I ended up sitting in the back of the room on the floor for quite a bit of the show with super sore feet, but it was still one helluva night. It didn’t end until well after 2am. That was almost four hours on stage.
La Dispute at Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac, Michigan
Jan. 12, 2013
I’ve been involved with this band since nearly the beginning of their career way back in 2005/2006, and this was the show where they kind of launched from the small clubs into ballrooms. They headlined our 5th annual birthday show for my company, and we ended up selling it out at 1,100 paid. With the band’s DIY roots, we decided to roll with no barricade. Not the best idea we’ve collectively ever had, but it was an awesome show. Everyone survived and the band has never looked back, touring worldwide with an ethic that a lot of bands could take note of… and generally requesting a barricade now.
Eve 6 and Lit at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit, Michigan
April 9, 1999
The first show where I realized that crowd surfing was something that I probably shouldn’t be doing all that often. Weird to say that there was a mosh pit during a Lit set, but there was a pretty wild one. A big hole opened up, I got tossed what felt like 15 feet up in the air and landed flat on my back on the floor of St. Andrews. If it weren’t for that springy old hardwood floor, I probably would still be laying there. I’ve never had the air knocked out of me like that before.
The Used, Thrice, My Chemical Romance, & Story of the Year at Orbit Room in Grand Rapids, Michigan
May 6, 2003
I just started to get into this kind of music when The Used was on their self-titled tour. I hated the openers, none of whom I had heard of at the time. Actually, I dug Story of the Year, but hated My Chemical Romance and Thrice so, so much. Which is weird, because years later, Thrice is one of my top three or four favorite bands, and The Black Parade and Three Cheers for Revenge by My Chemical Romance are some of my favorite albums from that era.
The Head and the Heart at Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac, Michigan
March 11, 2012
Every once in a while, I’ll have a show on my calendar, whether it’s one I booked or one I might be attending, and I’ll just block myself out from the artist. Won’t listen, won’t really pay attention to what kind of music they make. I guess when it’s my show, it’s generally a support act, as I should probably know what our team is marketing, but I’ll just wall myself off.
For this show, I successfully buffered myself from having really any idea what this band sounded like and just went in cold turkey with the idea of hopefully being pleasantly surprised. What The Head and the Heart greeted me with was as close as I can remember to a religious experience. After booking thousands of shows, I’m hard to impress, but they just had it that night. They were hungry, young, having fun doing it, and the songs from that first record were just so, so good. It was this awesome, surprising reminder why we do what we do, and anytime I’m dragging ass at the office, I remember this show, the impact it had on me, and I pick up my pace and take care of business.