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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The kids are alright

    Andi Berlinarts columnist
    Andi Berlin
    arts columnist

    Opening the doors was like stepping out of a time machine into the French Revolution – the throbbing screech of children, bodies jumping and pushing every which way in manifestations of flightless terror, pounding music of the bourgeoisie zapping my ear hairs into dust, bloodshed at the hands of Asian fathers and older women with Farrah Fawcett haircuts.

    Only I wasn’t in Paris during the making of history, but at the Tucson Music Hall last Thursday, about to see a Jonas Brothers concert. I’m not sure why I agreed to subject myself to this Disney boy band inferno, but it had something to do with the fact that the Wildcat got free tickets. I, myself, can never resist priceless adventures of the price-less, even if I know ahead of time that I’ll be surrounded by nothing but ten-year-olds in concert shirts and slightly older scenesters in hippy headbands and drastically-cut bangs.

    They were pounding that “”Everybody Move Your Feet and Feel United”” song that always pops up in lame clubs and bar mitzvauhs of the worst variety, and suddenly the loudest most fearsome clanging of screeches I’ve ever heard was unleashed from the depths of Hell and into this room. Were they all really screaming and jumping up and down just for a roadie with an unusually large beard on the stage? That’s what it seemed like, but the girl next to me informed me that there was a camera about.

    This process of screaming and framed silence (with a little self-effacing dance moves in between) lasted for about a half an hour until the lights dimmed and the backup band appeared behind a translucent curtain with a holographic J.B. couture symbol.

    Suddenly, the Brothers rose from the stage and a poor-man’s Daft Punk light show began. The girls were exploding, their fathers eroding, and a summary of the television show “”Hannah Montana”” appeared on a variety of screens that reminded me of those anti-drug presentations you’d watch in junior high while the teachers were grading standardized tests.

    The sexuality in the air was intense, to say the least. These Jonas Brothers, who I now recognized as the only people in the entire auditorium who were close to my age, wore flashy hipster tuxedos and skinny trousers that left their leg muscles bulging even from 200 feet away. They were all spinning around and doing cartwheels and karate leg kicks with their guitars, hands clapping and at times sliding up and down clear rubber ramps in which the symbolism was shrouded. During the climax of one of the first songs, all the lights moved onto the charming lead singer with straight sceney hair, whose body curved into a move that was a mix between the moonwalk and a giraffe running from an elephant. All the girls cheered during these moments of clichéd showmanship, as if they didn’t notice the real reason they could dance so heavily: they weren’t really playing anything.

    But after the slow song – in which a cadre of seven-year-olds in arms of their mothers held up a circus light stick in the shape of a miniature vibrator with “”Jonas Brothers”” flashing on the neon phallus – came the sexual climax. Each of the three Jonas brothers came out with a different meaningless instrument. The one in the middle all of the sudden appeared with a fire extinguisher conveniently placed over his crotch, and began setting off a billow of smoke from a long hose every time they hit a beat. Again, the girls cheered like they didn’t know what was going on, but I saw an old man get up out of his seat and leave.

    All of this taken together was kind of demoralizing: the fact that boy bands and Disney have become so shameless they’re now capitalizing off the counterculture; the fact that these girls have no idea they’re being manipulated, exploited at $50 a ticket, the fact that their young sexuality is being cultivated by the masses, preened and studied to produce more sales.

    But then I remembered my first concert without my parents and what it meant to me. I was probably 12 and I was seeing Incubus at Mesa Amphitheatre, screaming and crying and pushing my loudness onto everyone and acting like a ridiculous ass. I remember crying afterwards in the gas station while my friends were buying Twizzlers, the shear joy of the music and experience overcoming my senses. I was being manipulated by the man as well, but I didn’t seem to care. And I still cherish that experience. It was my own, even though the concert promoters created it.

    Out of nowhere, after the Brothers finished playing a cover of the strangely symbolic “”Take on Me”” by one-hit-wonders A-Ha, I discovered the secret underworld of The Jonas Brothers. There was a slightly chubby man onstage! He had been there all along, but I hadn’t seemed to notice him because he was shrouded behind a glaring yellow light. The man was wearing one of those stupid top hats that overweight guys with goatees wear, and I felt like I knew everything about him. His secret dreams, the moment where he decided to sacrifice his upstanding career as a local speed-metal bassist and make some money on the Jonas debauchery. I could picture him sitting at home looking at porn, a joint on the table next to an ash-tray in the shape of Puff the Magic Dragon. I knew him – I was him.

    When the concert ended, I scrambled out of the theatre in disarray. My ears were useless, but my mental senses were stirred as well. What is this Jonas Brothers phenomenon? I wasn’t sure, but I sure hoped they popped up at Optimist Club later.

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