It may have been Super Bowl weekend, but the big event for thousands of mostly tween-age girls had nothing to do with football. Instead, all eyes at the Gibson Amphitheatre were focused on three relative rookies known as the Jonas Brothers, who played three sold-out shows there this weekend. After selling out their first show at the 6,000-seat theater in a two minutes — the fastest sellout in the venue’s
36-year history — the Jonas Brothers added two more shows that also sold out. Not quite as impressive as Garth Brooks’ recent five shows in two days at Staples Center, but give them time: Their average age isn’t even 18 yet, and they just graduated to headlining status after opening for fellow Disney sensation Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus late last year.
At the afternoon show — the first of Saturday’s doubleheader — the trio’s 90-minute set showed why concert promoter Live Nation recently inked them to a two-year, multimillion-dollar deal, giving hope to the sagging music industry. Like successful sibling acts through the ages — from the Everly Brothers to Hanson — the Jonas Brothers showed off their heartthrob good looks, charisma and pop hooks. While there’s nothing terribly original in their presentation or cutting edge in their sound, curmudgeon rock snobs can at least take solace in the fact that the latest teen sensation isn’t just another lip-sync-and-dance routine; the Jonas Brothers play their own instruments — albeit backed by four sidemen — and write much of their own material.
The star is 15-year-old Nick, who alternated on guitar, drums and piano and handled vocals during much of the set. Joe, 18, sort of the default frontman, sang lead and backup while Kevin, 20, played electric and acoustic guitars. The band’s more upbeat material, like set opener “Year 3000,” wasn’t too far removed in sound and presentation from the pop-punk of fellow brother act Good Charlotte, only without the angst and tattoos. The syrupy ballad “Hello Beautiful,” performed on acoustic guitars with just the three Jonases seated onstage, came off like the slow-dance soundtrack to a middle school noontime dance.
Although the bulk of the show consisted of material from the band’s 2007 self-titled Hollywood Records debut (they also recorded an album in 2006 for Columbia before being dropped), the trio also previewed a few songs from its forthcoming album and attempted to rock new life into A-Ha’s ’80s new wave hit “Take On Me.” Their recorded retooling of Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America,” which was absent from the set, would have made a better choice. That quibble aside, the Jonas Brothers didn’t disappoint. Perhaps even more heartening for a struggling music industry was the enthusiasm of a new generation of fans, who showed that pop music — if served properly to the right demographic — is anything but passe.