Sunday, August 15, 2010

Are you tired of being told you can't meet your cute teen idols?

So here's the thing: in the months since I first posted about Big Time Rush, I've come to really, really love the TV show. It's pretty much the only tween/teen show I point to and say, "No, it's actually good," as opposed to, "It's completely ludicrous but I can't stop watching it." (Though that's true, too.) I've got basically every episode of the show saved on my TiVo and have no compunctions about making people who visit my apartment watch them.

And then I found out there would be a BTR concert today. I was kind of curious, because boy bands aren't really The Big Thing right now, and I wanted to see how kids from their actual demographic respond to them. Curious enough to go, though? ... Well, yes, once I found out the concert was free. Jess couldn't make it, alas, so my poor sister agreed to go with me (though she insisted on pretending to be my mom to explain why she was there).

BTR, of course, was headlining this show, in as much as one can headline a free show hosted by the Macy's Back To School Sale. The complete rundown:

1) Victoria Justice, who didn't actually perform. She was the host, along with some guy from Macy's. Judging by her MC skills, I'm really, really glad she didn't sing. She was almost extraordinarily not good; she sounded like she was reading off a cue card, badly, and kept mumbling barely audibly, and failed to be charming or entertaining or even energetic. On the other hand, the guy from Macy's was worse -- he introduced her as Victoria Jones -- but not worse enough to make her look decent by comparison. Look, Victoria, I'm trying not to hate you just because I hate your show, but you're making it hard.

2) The first act was Internet Sensation Josh Golden. I had heard of him from a couple of tween blogs, which were pushing him as "OMG the next Justin Bieber!!!1!" because he was also discovered through YouTube. Now, I don't personally love the Bieb, but I can assure you, Josh Golden is no Justin Bieber. The best thing about his performance was that he only played three songs. The worst thing was that he played at all.

3) Next up was Cherice As Seen on Oprah and Ellen. From our vantage point half a block away and behind a bush, she appeared to be 10 years old, and so I was incredibly impressed by her performance. As it turns out, she's 18, not 10, so it was slightly less impressive, but I have to give it to her: the girl has a voice. I didn't particularly love her music, but I'm always excited when I discover a singer who can actually sing.

4) Which leads us to Big Time Rush. Now, I'm just old enough to remember the 90s creed that if anyone had ever heard of you, you weren't cool anymore; and the idea of being pre-packaged by The Man in any way was the kiss of death. And as I said, boybands haven't really hit this generation yet, so I wanted to see how people were actually responding to BTR as a band.

The answer is "adorably." There were maybe 500 people there, mostly tween girls and their parents. There were dozens of home made t-shirts and a couple of full on costumes from the show. Lots of overheard, "But MOM, I KNOW the show is free but we have to buy stuff at Macy's to get the pass to meet them! I NEED to meet them, Mom! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING, YOU'RE RUINING MY LIFE!!! IF I DON'T GET TO MEET JAMES I'LL DIE!!!" Unwilling to fight 12 year olds for a good view of the band (what with being grown ups and all) we weren't nearly close enough to see the crying and swooning girls, but since we'd gotten there an hour early and the front section was already full of devotees, I'm pretty sure they were there.

In short, the crowd loved the band, and the band, to their credit, wasn't dreadful. They were lipsynching -- so far, nothing from their show has convinced me they can hit 4-part harmony live -- but they had more presence than I expected. They only did three songs, which Rachel rather cynically suggests was because that's all they've got choreographed. Since the choreography was directly from the TV show I suspect she's right. Their choreography wasn't terribly complex, but it was athletic and high-energy, and...

Look. There were four cute, non-threatening, clean-cut teenage boys*. They were (sorta) singing and dancing in unison. There were screaming girls and harried-but-patient parents. Their songs are up-beat and earwormy as hell, and that's all I could have asked. I don't think I'd have paid to see them (especially not because it was only three songs), but as it stood? Totally worth the hour spent standing outside Macy's.

Though it would have been a better hour without Victoria Justice and Internet Sensation Josh Goldsen. They were really bad, you guys.

*Actually, they're all 20, but close enough.

Photo from Tall Blonde and Eyebrows.

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