Live Review: Operation Jonas Brothers (June 27th, 2009 at the Rose Garden)
Editor's Note: The thoughts and opinions expressed by Nilina in this post are not necessarily—in fact, are not at all—reflected by WW. She's pretty much a rogue agent at this point.
A year a half ago, I wrote a listing for the paper previewing the Jonas Brother's show at the Schnitz. And you know what else I did? I requested tickets and a photo pass to the show, too, driven by my curiosity in the phenomenon of the Disney darlings. Then I went. And I was entertained, impressed and wholly won over. It was amazing. Of course I was the oldest non-parent there. In between bands they played Flaming Lips and the Strokes, which is admittedly pretty cool for a pop concert aimed at preteens.
There was so much money put into the show—the lighting, the costume changes, the stage, oh my! I had to appreciate the level to which they took it. It's not just about the music or their curly hair, it's about the show at large; the big picture. And the big picture for the Jonas Brothers is that they know how to entertain. Even for someone who doesn't consider themselves a fan, if you turn up at a Jonas show you're gonna be entertained. They go over the top and it's oh so easy to delight in their at times ridiculous, but always in good spirit antics—all done while wearing promise rings!
Anyway, I came away from that show with an appreciation. Over the following summer I took joy in singing along to their single "Burning Up" on repeat with my friend Marisa as we hopped from houseshow to houseshow. Guilty pleasure? Nope, because I have no shame in admitting it. Slowly my curiosity had morphed into appreciation which was morphing into actual fandom, split equally between unadulterated love and irony.
I have waited a year and a half to see them again (the 3D concert movie Marisa and I caught in theaters opening weekend doesn't count). This Saturday was my chance. Did I stand alone like I had at the Schnitz? No to the power of 10. Yep, the crew rolled that deep. And we bumped into more people while there. Let's get into the swing of things shall we?
3:31 - Arrive at the Rose Garden. Just how quick can you realize you're in the midst of a cultural phenomenon? We were presented with a lot of obvious signs, such as girls in homemade JoBros shirts, Burger King running a customized crown station hocking free apple wedges, a full-sized tour bus parked prominently for fans to write messages on, parents supervising and tons of girls dancing with excitement.
You'll notice I'm not mentioning any guys. They were there. About two strong and taking shape in the form of tour managers.
4:03 - Marisa and I call and tell Arya to come down while chatting to a journalist dad and his young elementary school aged daughter. We all talk about Miley Cyrus' off-the-record charity work, the Jonas Brother 3D movie (out on Blu-Ray today!) and Honor Society's signing session the day prior.
4:10 - Brief interview with openers Honor Society who are super nice, super cute and super super media trained.
When speaking into my voice recorder, they're the only band that's ever restated their name with every answer they provide, even after I told them they didn't have to and that I'd be able to match their voices to their names and answers.
4: 45 - I'm dealing back and forth between "G" aka Gregory, Honor Society's tour manager and Victor from the marketing company behind both the Jonas Brothers and Honor Society. I am trying to finagle entrance to the Jonas Brothers' meet and greet. Tickets to the "soundcheck party" had been available for sale via LiveNation, but $350 is too rich for my blood. So my way in was to observe it as press. I tried so hard. I was relentless in my contact between those two and the venue's publicist Sheri. My high school cross-country coach used to say if you can run a race and honestly say afterwards "I could've done more," then you didn't run hard enough. I adopted that motto for this and ran with it hard and to the end. I did not cede victory until the final moment of its proposed start time of 5 and only after I walked by the vacant tour buses myself to prove I'd tried every angle.
5:03 - A mom and daughter are waiting at the buses, poster in hand.
5:24 - Singing Dragging an Ox Through Water's "Aces" on the Yellow Line Max as we pass the commotion of Saturday Market, heading to downtown. Purpose of trip: booze from the liquor store on 10th for a pre-show drink and nosh from Whole Foods for dinner.
5:52 - Marisa, Arya and I meet up with Whitney and her friend Emily in the dining area of Whole Foods. We then depart for the Rose Garden.
6:19 - We're walking from our parking spot to the Rose Garden after hissing at the Rose Garden's own $20 fee. I mention how the meet-and-greet is typically closed to press so it's not so surprising I didn't get in on that note, but the fact that it's aimed at fans means I should of gotten in. "We're fans," I exclaim. "Wait, we are?" asks Emily. We ponder the thought for a moment before nodding that the fact that we're going to the show for enjoyment and wanted to meet them kinda adds up to being a fan. Playing their music on repeat in the car doesn't hurt either. We then pass this car:
6:27 - Arrive back at the Rose Garden and take a seat on its lawn. Whitney and Emily recognize the red tour bus at the one parked next to Hotel Lucia much earlier on Saturday. Yet another possible opportunity to meet the Jonas Brothers foiled! Foiled!
6:45 - I have to leave to go receive my photo pass. I bury my cherry soda can in gravel around a young tree so that I can comeback to collect it later and not lose the five cent deposit. Yep, I'm that cheap. I never could've coughed up that $350.00.
6:55 - Two blond Red Bull girls arrive at the loading dock/backstage entrance. They don't appear to have any previous arrangements to be there, but mention they've done it before. After a few minutes of stalling, they're let backstage. Why didn't I dress up as a pizza delivery person?! I've heard of that working before.
7:01 - I get a text that Mike of Reporter and Tyler Ferrin of Typhoon have just walked up and are downing a Miller High Life between them as they approach.
7:02 - Nick Jonas is playing catch with an older gentleman on the loading dock of the Rose Garden a mere TEN FEET AWAY FROM ME. I don't take a picture though, it'd be too intrusive, nor do I say anything. He's looking at me though, I'm like the only one back there not part of the tour crew. Sheri has arrived to bestow upon me my photo pass and escort me to the photographers area.
7:07 - In the elevator ride up to photo access area. A woman riding up mentions that the Wondergirls—a Korean girl group schedule to play from 7-7:05pm have a dance that everybody in the country is mimicing, taping and then uploading to YouTube. The Korean version of Soulja Boy? I am so down.
7:12 - Arrive to the photo access area. The level—farther away than my seats. The second act of the night Honor Society are finishing out their third song.
7:20 - In between bands the Jonas brothers are played repeatedly overhead—"Burning Up" plays twice in the same change over. I think Leigh Feldman should still be their tour DJ.
7:27 - Wondergirls are "singing" a single song onstage again in cute dresses. Apparently they're gonna do this between every band for a total of 15 minutes onstage.
7:35 - Jordin Sparks' set opens with the theme tune of the Chicago Bulls prior to her arrival.
7:42 - She introduces a rendition of Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" in the King of Pop's honor and does the song moderate justice. The thing about Jordin Sparks is she's cute and a good singer, but there is nothing iconic or emulatable about her from her presence to her fashion sense. She comes nowhere near Jackson's conviction or even the command of the evening's headliners. Her keyboardist was displaying more energy and pizzaz than she did.
8:05 - After Jordin Sparks closes her set, Papa Jonas appears. We all jump out of our seats to give him a standing ovation. He talks about how small the world is as means as an intro for the Wondergirls' final appearance/performance of the evening. He makes sure to mention he wants all of us to learn the dance and then retreats back underneath the stage as they launch into their biggest foreign hit and first US single "Nobody"—the song the woman in the elevator was referencing.
8:15 - We meet up at entry A23 to hang out, buy T-shirts and take group pics. Awesome times abound. Arya finds it hilarious that Mike as owner of Potato Champion is buying fries at the Rose Garden.
Cast of characters in attendance from left clockwise:
My "Burning Up" duet partner Marisa, me, Mike and his girlfriend, Tyler, LC podcaster Arya, Whitney's plus one Emily, LC's gleeful Whitney Hawke and Kaila McCluskey of PDX Pop Now's booking committee. Elsewhere in the Garden, Jess from WW's promotions department lurked, presumably with a plus one also not of tween age.
8:31 - Queen's "We Will Rock You" begins blasting. The main performance has begun. All lights are out. Audience members begin waving the lights available for sale for $10 at the merch booths and illuminate the arena. No one bothered to tell them that a cellphone would have the same affect for free. Camera flashes are going off intermittently reminding me of the Sydney Olympics when Marion Jones was running to record creation. Fog begins pouring from the stage. Oh look, there's a circular thing lifting. Eerie! Kinda reminds me of a spaceship. The dawning of a new era in Jonas has arrived!
8:45-ish - Third song is "Poison Ivy" which is personally my favorite from the newest album. It's kind of a ludicrous song—all the more reason to seek it out and listen. The stage reflects the song in theme what with being green-lit and the animated green vines proposed to be poison over projected from the video screen overhead.
8:55 - Nick Jonas is at the piano singing "A Little Bit Longer," his ode to diabetes slow-jam anthem. He breaks it down midway to deliver a monologue about his diagnosis and impart the wisdom that someday all of us in the area will come to a crossroads. He tells of going to Washington last week, being on the cover of Rolling Stone again, having a second number one album. "Tell me, is that slowing down?" he asks. When he mentions meeting President Obama, the screams from the teens get noticeably louder.
9:00 - A Bayer ad plays overhead with Nick talking about buying a JB-themed dog-tag to support diabetes research.
9:06 - Kevin replaces Nick at the piano (since when can Kevin play the piano?) He's touching keys, but not actually pressing them down. Now I don't wanna get blasphemous, but that's just what my eyes (with glasses on) were seeing.
9:16 - Joe asks if any of us have seen the Disney Channel Original Movie Camp Rock (though he omits "Disney Channel Original" as a prefix). I scream "Of course!" since I YouTubed that up around this time last year at 4 am one weekend. That question leads the way to the trio performing the film's signature tune "Gotta Find You" from an elevated platform with two violinists for accompaniment. The audience sings along and then takes over at Joe's prodding. While I was tucked away at Outdoor School for most of spring (more on that in a later post), my fondness for the tune increased even more as 6th graders performed it at out weekly talent shows.
9:24 - The Jonas Brother turn their attention to the parents in the house and cover Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."
9:50 - The lights are all out. There is not a single Jonas brother in sight. Fog begins to descend from the stage. The video screens project ominous gray clouds. Stark military drumming commences. Banging on those drums? Why the horseshoe mustache sporting (ala Hulk Hogan) from the Jonas Brothers' band (when Nick isn't banging it out at the kit) and my, is that...? No, why it can't be. No - it truly is Jordin Sparks own drummer (as pointed out by Marisa on my right). And after they slowly spun around the stage a few times, who rises from the center of the stage but Miss Jordin Sparks singing her single "Battlefield" off her new second album. And let me tell you you, the way she delivered it—with Kevin and Nick providing instrumental accompaniment and Joe Jonas delivering "whoos" and grunts at key moments—she finally achieves the conviction necessary of a stadium frontwoman. It is a marvelous, rousing rendition that sold the song, sold her and brought the show to a climax.
9:55 - Kevin Jonas appears solo in a crisp pumas colored trench coat and proceeds to open a black umbrella and walk towards where rain is falling in a circle from overhead. He parts the water with his hands coming across as a goofy magician, stands in the center without getting a drop on him, then makes his way back to the mainstage to join his brothers who are appearing onstage now to the beginning chords of "Lovebug" from A Little Bit Longer. The didn't stay on the mainstage for long though. No, all three made the trek back out to the smaller circular stage and it begins raining again. Rain can be a fun and exciting component of a live show (see Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" MTV VMAs performance a few years back and Taylor Swift doing it up soaking wet at another awards show.) But the Brothers Jonas aren't exactly a group to repeat what other acts have done before when it comes to the live show (even though the stage is similar to Britney Spears' from her last tour). They took it up a notch and then some. How so? As the water fell, so did symbols (such as hearts, a silhouette of the trio and the group's family crest) and words (lyrics such as "speechless"). New levels!
10:18 - The Jonas Brothers return to the stage for an encore. There's really only one song left to do and it's the song everybody has been waiting for all night—"Burning Up," easily the trio's biggest hit. Things get tense and confusing from the crowd when for a moment it doesn't look as though the brothers' security guard Big Rob who delivers the guest rap on the single will be doing it live. Oh no—he arrives! From the center of the stage. The crowd goes even wilder (and let me tell you, the amount of girls' squeals and screams was already near deafening even with earplugs up to that point). And the Jonas Brothers are done, going out on the highest, most energetic, frenzied note possible.
10:23 - Wait, nope. They're back onstage with both Jordin Sparks and Honor Society to take a final bow. While sweet, it's just that little bit of a buzzkill after "Burning Up." They make their way around the stage doing bows. The opening acts descend down the center of the stage first. Then it's time for the Jonas Brothers. Joe falls and freaks out a little bit while going down which is semi-hilarious.
(See some sweet gymnastics at the end of the set when a trampoline was brought out for the boys)
10:30 - Walking to where we are parked, we pass the fan tour bus. Someone is getting off of it. A stampede develops. Girls scream, running in it's direction. I hustle over too. I can't tell for the life of me who it isn't because I can't seen then or get close enough—and trust me, I'm trying. Honor Society had mentioned from the stage that they would be doing an autograph signing. Maybe it's that. They'd done one at an Albertson's in Clackamas just the day before. Maybe it's the Jonas Brothers doing some totally unsafe. I ask those around me if they know who it is. They tell me no, only to begin screaming for the unknown person again. However, the hysteria isn't quite contagious as I leave without screaming for the person or ever finding out who it actually is. As I leave I hear shouts of "get the children out of here!" and witness small children and parents being crushed in the rabid throng.
See, people love to love things. And people love shared experiences. With the Jonas Brothers, it's easy to get both and more.
So guess what? I just booked my ticket to New York yesterday. And I fly back out of Newwark, New Jersey in the early am of the 15th, so I was thinking of just heading to the airport the night before and hanging out until dawn. But guess who's playing in New Jersey the night of the 14th? Why only the Jonas Brothers! Will this be the time I finally meet them? Only time will tell...