Just in case you’re not on the Radio Disney mailing list, or haven’t had the unfortunate fate of hearing me whimper in despair for the past year, I’ll catch you up: The Jonas Brothers are no more (we’re going to skip right over the discussion about me being way too old to be affected by this). The reason is that Nick Jonas, the youngest, couldn’t bear the constraints of his squeaky clean sugar mold any longer, and, like the Hulk, busted out and tasted an even sweeter freedom. I’m still kind of mad, but this has not stopped me from giving him all my money, so when I heard he was coming to San Francisco, I promptly bought a ticket.
Historically, there are a few routes for teen heartthrobs to take once they grow out of their sugar-pop shell. A) Disappearance, in which their female fandom is left in despair for a decade or more, until a greyed, sleepy version of the band reunites to the hysteria of thousands of mom-haircuts in sparkle tops; B) Growth, in which the heartthrob evolves musically, broadening his fanbase and growing a permanent five o’clock shadow; and C) Alienation, in which the heartthrob makes terrible decision after terrible decision until the only fans he has left can arguably be considered clinically insane.
Naturally, Nick has taken Avenue B. He’s been in the business since pre-pubescence, and after a decade has seemed to figure out how to appeal to his fanbase at any stage of his career. He’s taken on heavier topics, opted for a stripped down stage show, and to be honest, none of that matters as much as the fact that he started weightlifting and saying the F word. There’s just something about witnessing a previously zipped-up and polished pop star say “Fuck it,” literally, and behaving in an unfiltered fashion. It’s like hearing your grandma swear for the first time. It’s magnificent.
And his fans have changed too, kind of. They make fewer signs and write on their faces less. They order from the bar. They dress with a youthful sexiness fitting of twenty year olds that I’ve never been able to pull off (this isn’t false modesty, I wore an outfit from Ann Taylor). The number of dads at this most recent show has dropped considerably, replaced with boyfriends, whom, despite their wilting girlfriends surging toward Nick Jonas like the tide to the moon, are relatively upbeat, most likely because they’ll surely get laid for the favor.
They do, however, still scream. This is somewhat rectified by the fact that there is a mere fraction of screaming fans allowed in the venue as the arena tours of past. But it bursts forth, for sometimes no reason, and without warning. And it’s the literal worst.
And that brings me to the review of the actual show. Assuming I haven’t lost you all already, I’m going to keep it short and sweet, so here it is, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:
- The venue was very intimate. I got to pretend I was apathetic about the whole thing and stand in the back near the bar (Dad-town), but could still see everything, and notice the details that normally only the first few rows absorb, like how Nick Jonas unironically bites his bottom lip as only wildly attractive famous white guys can manage.
- The mashups. A setlist that consists of 90% new music gets unengaging real fast. Thrilling little surprises like Sam Smith snippets were peppered throughout the entire show, making a song you’d normally forget as soon as the next starts stand out.
- This little dancey thing. Nick takes himself pretty seriously and that means always looking like he’s working through a really tough crossword puzzle. The lighthearted things are like spotting a unicorn.
- The signature falsetto voice. It’s like adult Nick Jonas ate kid Nick Jonas, but kid Nick Jonas refuses to be upstaged, and so he fights through at the end of a song when adult Nick Jonas gets tired.
- He only played for an hour. We’re talking beginning to end, and not a minute longer, like he was trying to catch something on TV. There was no encore, and it’s not even like he ~teased an encore; the lights came up as soon as he reached stage right. This did not discourage fans from screaming for an encore, however. Tickets were cheap, so it’s not like I felt cheated out of my money or anything, but scantily clad young women spent hours hanging around the Tenderloin district, and I feel like they deserved a little more. It’s not very rock n’ roll being home by ten.
- It was so hot in there I thought I was going to die. This had nothing to do with Nick Jonas; it’s a very old building. But I wasn’t even up there in the trenches, fighting for front row with the other flailing bodies. I was in Dad-town for Pete’s sake.
- A homeless man on the street told me that if I didn’t give him a dollar, he’d stick his fist up his own ass. Again, there’s nothing Nick Jonas could have done about that, but it was pretty scarring, and an encore would have made me feel a little better.
- … There is nothing ugly about Nick Jonas.
So there’s my assessment. If you’re a diehard fan, it’s enjoyable, but don’t expect to break curfew. If you’re the boyfriend of a fan, bring earplugs, it will be over soon. If you’re that homeless man that scarred me for life, you need to work on your sales pitch. And if you’re the encore we were all waiting up for last night, please call home, we’re all worried about you.