Monday night, I went to a One Direction concert with my daughter. "What is One Direction?" you blessed, fortunate, blissfully unaware life-livers ask? One Direction is a highly publicized group of styled boys who gather on stage and say words into very powerful microphones to thousands upon thousands of young girls and the parents of those young girls. For money. Sometimes they even sing. Their strategy is reminiscent of New Kids On The Block, only plus accents, minus half of the dancing, minus three quarters of the singing.
When I was given free tickets to this concert, I knew I had to take my 4-year-old daughter. How bad could it possibly be, right? I can put on a pair of Mom Jeans and take this kid to her first concert. She has repeatedly said she "might want to marry all the boys" in this group, so let's let her see her suitors in person. It won't be fun, but ... nope. That's it. That's all I got.
(I can feel you judging me for letting my daughter listen to this horrible group of styled boys. Let me explain my logic: She must listen to shitty music now, so that she can truly understand the worth of good music later. I am convinced that every music lifetime needs its Shania Twain. One Direction is the Dickey's barbecue in what I hope will be a lifetime of actually-good barbecue.)
We are assigned to the section of seating that houses all of the most true One Direction fans. Section 308. Row L. Seat Middle Of The Clouds. We are two rows from the top of the American Airlines Center. Somehow we are farther away from them than we are when we listen to them through the car radio. And this is where the girls with the most One Direction joy, fear and emotion live. The panic in this section is code red.
"I HEARD THEY'RE USING REAL GUITARS TONIGHT," one crazy-face teen screamed at her crazy-face friend.
If you walked into American Airlines center at the beginning of this concert and you couldn't see the stage, you would think -- based on the sporadic banshee-level high-pitched screaming-- that thousands of people were being slowly tortured to death. And you wouldn't be wrong. The sounds of people experiencing joy at this concert are the exact definition of terrifying. Imagine the noise you would make if you saw a zombie eating your favorite puppy and you're halfway there. It's the noise I make when I order queso and then the queso man tells me that he's out of queso for the day. It's the Kim Basinger-when-she-sees-the-Joker's-not-make-upped-face scream -- on and off for five hours straight.
In between banshee screams are the most honest, purest, sweetest screamversations.
"JEFF GOT SEATS ON THE FRONT ROW!"
It would be easier to get used to the screaming if it were constant screaming. But it's not. It's reactionary. Every single time the girl mob sees a glimpse of a member of One Direction -- or what it thinks might be a glimpse of a member of One Direction -- they scream for three seconds. Roadie testing out the drums = SCREAM. Roadie testing out the microphone = SCREAM. "Girls, those aren't the actual members of the group of boys who wear tight clothes and call themselves One Direction." I tried to help = (silent beat, confused look, eyes return to stage) SCREEEEEEAM.
Understandably, when you bring a 4-year-old into this environment, she freaks the fuck out. Immediate Mom-is-a-tree-that-I-must-climb-to-the-top-of-lest-I-be-eaten-by-these-crazy-bitches instincts kick in. And these instincts are right. I wish I had a fuckin' mom tree to climb. We sit through several songs sung by the opening semi-publicized group of styled boys who gather on stage and say words in accents to thousands of screaming girls.
My daughter needs to use the restroom, so we leave the chaos for a moment. Let me be clear about how many girls are at this event. There were so many girls that the staff of American Airlines Center put 8.5-by-11-inch pieces of paper that read "WOMEN" over all of the men's bathroom signs in the arena. I thought they were just in the middle of reprinting the signage when I saw these pieces of paper marking the restrooms, until I walked into one and saw wall after wall of urinals. Every restroom at the venue was a women's restroom. If there were boys at this concert who were not performers, I'm assuming they had to just piss their pants.
While we're in the halls of the American Airlines Center, a safe distance away from The Panic, we decide to commemorate the experience with merch. I tell the man behind the counter that I'd like the glossy 8-by-10 picture of One Direction that he's selling for $5. "You know that's a photo of the opening band, 5 Days of Summer, and not One Direction, right? Just want to be sure you know that before you purchase it." I did not know that. Thank you. "I'm just here, saving lives," he said. I purchase a poster with what he tells me has the correct grouping of males on it.
When we return to The Panic, the lights go down and One Direction finally threatens to take the stage. The screaming somehow gets worse. I seriously have no idea how it got any louder. Staff members were covering their ears in shock. It was like someone had opened flood gates and let 10,000 additional screamy girlbats into the arena. A large screen that is several stories below us began to play a video of the boys of One Direction. The video was simple and involved head shots of each group member with his name, I'm assuming as proof that they are, in fact, five different individuals. The screaming gets worse. The curtain drops and reveals the Actual Boys on the Actual Stage. ALL OF THE TEENAGE GIRLS TAKE ONE GIANT, COLLECTIVE PANT-SHIT AND THEN SCREAM THE SCREAM OF THE AGES.
The scream of the ages awakens the demon god of shitty music who then jump-dances in white-person rhythm to shitty lyrics and proceeds to shit brain cell death all over the throngs of teenage girls, who turn out to be wearing higher high-waisted shorts than their moms. What is that about? Why are teenage girls wanting to create mom pooches for themselves? Who has to clean this up later?!?!
The first song the boys sing is not their radio edit. The daughter asks if we can please leave. I oblige her. We literally skip all the way back to the car. For now that we have experienced true fear and sadness, we can know true joy. The Shania Twain Effect is real, people. It's super real.