The Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato Superpages.com Center July 9, 2008
Better than: Watching the never-ending loop of mind-numbing Hannah Montana re-runs with my daughter on the Disney Channel.
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Huge parental faux pas: Ask daughter Lily if she wants to see the Jonas Brothers--maybe even co-blog about it--before actually having the tix in hand. Her answer, as anticipated from 17 times she’s screened Camp Rock and her recent purchase of the JoBro CD and the JONAS BROTHERS RULE concert poster she made, is: “Yes! Yes! A million times Yes!”
When tix don’t arrive as scheduled, I'm willing to beg, borrow and scalp rather than face her 7-year-old disappointment and wife’s 45-year-old scorn. A last-minute something comes though and everything else goes off hitch-less, other than getting stuck in a Central Expressway bottleneck and being late, which does give us some quality car time.
“This is my first concert,” she says. “When was the last concert you went to?” she posits.
Tough question, but haven’t seen anything at the Superpages.com Fair Park venue we were headed toward since it was simply called Starplex. Oh, to be 7 again.
“Are the Jonas Brothers going to be lip-syncing?” she asks, intrepid reporter she is. “If they are, that will be a total rip-off.”
No, I assure her, the Brothers will be primed, plugged and ready to pop.
We aren’t the only late arrivals, and Lily isn’t the youngest there by far. Prepubescents accompanied by flipped-flopped moms and daunted dads are in abundance. Teen boppers aged 14-18 dominate the crowd. No self-respecting teenage boy would be caught dead at a JoBro concert. Lily seems unnerved by the crowd, and hits the restroom. I head to the nacho line to grab some food as I wait for Lily. Before she's returns, though, a bopper decked out in a silver lame top, purple tights and multi-colored Cons and her two friends exit the restroom, screaming, "OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!" That’s right, three consecutive OMGs for no obvious reason.
Lily and I make it to our seats, whip out our reporters notepads and are disappointed to learn we have arrived at the break: Demi Lovato, Disney’s new Camp Rock It Teen from Colleyville, who Robert Wilonsky profiled for us has already come and gone. And its only 8:15.
Lucky, we are sitting next to an old friend from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Catherine Mallette, who fills me in on Lovato’s performance: “Really nice voice, a lot of poise, really dull show.”
Minutes before the Brothers take the stage, the crowd begins to swarm in the mid-center section -- shrieks of anticipation, camera phones at the ready -- as rumors spread that Demi has returned to work the crowd. False alarm. It’s country singer Taylor Swift, stirring the masses in her own right.
It’s 8:50 and the Jonas Brothers finally grace. Only then do I get my first full blast of piercing high-pitched pixie screams. These are made all the more intolerable by two beside-themselves-15–year-olds with direct access to my right ear. The Brothers open to an enormous standing-O with “Just the Way We Roll,” but it could be just about anything, because these pop rockers' songs tend to sound, you know, alike. Nice production values though, strong stage presence. And nice touch to have eight Robert Palmer-like-ladies playing string instruments -- violins, two cellos -- though they dance, clap and snap as much as they fiddle.
Lead singer Joe does the first perp walk into the crowd, allowed by a stage thrust extension. He has the stroll-stop-pose-point down perfectly, as do Bros Kevin and Nick who take their turns stoking the screamers by getting within sweating distance.
Did I say it’s hot out here? Not in the way these en masse girls are thinking. More like summer in the city hot. Lily seems uncomfortable. Unusually quiet as she scribbles on her notepad: “The lights are cool.”
But when the Brothers want a crowd sing-a-long to “Be Be Good,” I notice Lily is not the dancin’, hand-clappin’, arm-wavin’, digital-shootin’, top-of-the-lung-screamin’ fool that all the other girls are. So why isn’t she acting out? She seems more mesmerized by the songs, the strobe lights, the fog, the fire flares -- the Brothers being raised on individual pedestals 30 feet above the stage like they are some kind gods or something. But hers is a deer-caught-in-headlights look, the same one I notice on other younger girls, who seem equally stunned by the spectacle.
The Bros showcase well: Joe has a strong voice, Nick is soulful, opening up about his diabetes on video and in person, and Kevin is a talented enough musician. Their songs come and go quickly in rapid bursts of energy. Every abrupt movement, every jacket removed, every hair toss gets a decibel-defying reaction. The girl-crowd is theirs from the get-go and they don’t abuse. They sweat, they entertain, they put on a show.
What’s this? The Bros are playing “Year 3,000,” and Lily seems to be coming out of her stupor. She is tapping her feet, smiling to the music, dancing. I give a knee-rock and a fist pump myself, hoping to encourage her. By their second encore song, “SOS,” Lily is in the aisles, jumping, singing, arming-waving and yes, yes, actually screaming.
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Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: I am older than dirt and still regret missing the Beatles when they came to Dallas in 1964.
By the way: Don’t let your kid waste her time making a JoBro poster. You have to leave them at the gate before you enter. In Lily’s stack, there must have been 500 of them.
Random Note: Nine hours after the concert, and my right ear is still ringing. --Mark Donald