|Photos by Mark C. Austin|
I didn't want to go the Jonas Brothers at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo, but I had no choice. My 10-year old granddaughter did want to go, and I owed her. For two years of the Hannah Montana craze, Jade had the wig and the poster and never missed a rerun. So every time Hannah came to town, I stood in line or got on my computer and always failed to get the tickets.
Now Hannah is Miley Cyrus, and the hot ticket is the Jonas Brothers. I got two. For the record, I'm no stranger to the concert scene. Twenty-five years ago, I took Jade's father, who also happened to be ten, to see the Beastie Boys at the Summit. I was the oldest one there, it was my first time to hear rap, and I thought it was the last gasp of a dying civilization. On the way out, I said to him, "This will never last."
Now I am a seventy-something who has to review a teen band I never heard before. That was deal I made to get the tickets. But if your granddaughter is ten, you want her to like young guys with a squeaky clean image - no sex, no drugs - even if they did perform at the Bush White house twice. (I did some homework on the Internet.)
As Jade and I rode the elevator to the press box at the very top of Reliant Stadium on Sunday, my mood was hopeful. Unfortunately, we arrived before the music started. I saw a rodeo in Bandera once, so close to the action you could hear the bones crunch and smell the cow dung. If there were cows at this rodeo, I couldn't see them from my seat.
Finally, there they were, Nick, Joe, and Kevin, and it was Sinatra, Elvis and the Beatles all over again, except this time the screaming teenie beast was younger. Why, I wondered, as the fireworks exploded and 10,000 cameras flashed, did these brothers ignite such collective ecstasy? It was a mystery, so I decided just to listen to the music and watch the show, which, for us media types, meant mainly watching it on a TV screen behind a glass panel, safely insulated from the paying customers.
The brothers are good. Poised and polished, they are real musicians who write their own songs and deliver them with remarkable energy. Totally tuned in to the music, the grammar-school crowd knew all the lyrics and went crazy at all the right times.
In "BB Good," when Nick says, "I don't want to hurt you, I want to kiss you," each girl, judged by the decibel level, believed he meant her. "Love Bug," which feeds this fantasy, practically stopped the show. Too many of the songs had the same frenetic, hard-driving beat for my taste, but I really liked "BB Good," "Just Want to Play My Music," and "Burnin' Up," which described the emotional temperature inside Reliant and closed a solid hour of music in spectacular fashion.
Most of the 72,475 parents and their girls went home, like Jade, hoping to score tickets when the Jonas Brothers come next summer. (I'll pass.) These boys will not forge a new cultural sensibility, lead a generational revolt, or maybe even write a song that will make the playlists of the oldies stations 20 years from now, but they are far more than mere creations of the Disney factory.
The boys can sing, and the girls have the good taste to know it. As we left the stadium, I said to Jade, "Maybe Western civilization is alive and well after all." She had no idea what I was talking about.
Paid attendance: 72,475 - the seventh-highest crowd in RodeoHouston history.