The Jonas experience

One mom's true tale from a preteen concert

Pre-Show

My ears are ringing — and the Jonas Brothers haven’t even hit the stage yet.

The screaming started outside Toronto’s Rogers Centre, as my almost-14-year-old daughter, Hayley, and I joined some 55,000 fans and parents, all filing slowly inside for the Jonas Brothers concert. Someone saw a Hummer limo and decided it must be them. Then there were the three opening acts — Honor Society, The Wonder Girls and Jordin Sparks — each of whom liberally invoked the J-word to elicit ever louder screams.

And now, in mere moments, the famous band of brothers will take over a stage that looks as if the Eiffel Tower and a flying saucer had a baby. But first, we’re treated to a series of ads on the giant round video screen that makes up the upper section of the movable stage: Don’t miss The Wonder Girls, Miley Cyrus, Burger King, the new Jonas album (screams) and their hit show on Disney (more screams).

“Do you think they’ll be on soon, Mom?” asks Hayley impatiently.

I sure hope so. We’ve been waiting so long now that the little twin girls ahead of us have stopped dancing to the opening acts and are sitting with their mom, eating popcorn. Beside them, three tween girls in cut-off jean shorts complain they’re getting hoarse. And, like I said, my ears are ringing. Plus, to my embarrassment, I’m stifling yawns. (Hey, it’s been a long day.)

The Main Event

Then suddenly, the circular monitor lowers like a lid on the stage as the lights dim and Queen’s “We Will Rock You” plays. It opens back up, filled with dry-ice smoke and — the Jonas Brothers! Hayley leaps to her feet, throwing her arms up and twirling her $10 Jonas Brothers glow stick as the band breaks into their hit song “Paranoid.” I firmly shove my fingers in my ears until the screaming subsides a bit. Our seats are about five rows from the stage and as Joe, Nick or Kevin bounces by, Hayley jumps up and down, arms raised, mouth in a big open smile.

“Hey,” I yell to her, “pretty good, eh?”

She looks at me, face aglow, and screams.

That’s pretty much the MO for this frankly female festival of brotherly love. From the floor to the rafters, the place is packed with girls as young as five up to 16 or so (not including young-at-heart moms and a few amused-looking dads) decked out in Jonas T-shirts, temporary tattoos and I Love Joe headbands, all singing along or screaming.
I join Hayley, who has moved as close as possible to the stage, and am surrounded by waving arms and the faint pong of girlish B.O. Every time Kevin, Joe or Nick strolls along the runway, there’s a rush of girls, cameras aloft, happily wailing. When things settle down as Nick takes to the piano to sing “A Little Bit Longer,” one young teen stands near her seat, swaying and singing along, while wiping both tears and sweat from her face.

Onstage, though, the Jonas Brothers are like the eye of the hurricane — confident and in control. Among the three, there’s a lot of high-fiving and, every now and then, one of them seems to stop and soak in the adulation — which only encourages more screams. And though their music is distorted by screams and the venue’s echoing acoustics, they are putting on a good show. Unfazed by a revolving stage, Kevin, Joe and Nick cover their turf, giving all sides a good look at them. They jump, strut, do trampoline tricks and tell the audience they’re the most beautiful (and biggest) group they’ve ever played for. And, darn it, the guys are cute. The twins’ mom and I exchange smiles as the audience takes over the singing of “Lovebug.”

After the Show

The show wraps up after one encore. The lights come on and the screaming stops as 55,000 people make their way up and out. Hayley and I finally spill out into the cool night air and start walking toward the subway. I’m exhausted and we still have a subway ride, and then a drive home to the suburbs. But I’m distracted from my fatigue when Hayley slips her arm in mine and looks at me, beaming.

“Wasn’t that awesome?!?” she enthuses.

“So you liked it? You were happy with the whole show?” I ask.

“Are you kidding?” she replies. “This was the best night of my life!”

Now that’s music to my ears.

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