Band burning up, even with adults

Jonas Brothers find fans in kids -- and also their moms

August 06, 2008|By Mary Carole McCauley | Mary Carole McCauley,Sun critic

Look around the crowd attending the Jonas Brothers concert at 1st Mariner Arena tonight. Chances are that some of the fans will be more than 5 feet tall and are watching their cholesterol. They might not even have children in tow.

It's true that the boy band composed of three teenage brothers from New Jersey appeals primarily to prepubescent girls. The median age at a Jonas Brothers concert is probably about 12. But there are a number of certified adults - people old enough to legally vote and drink - who are willing to declare, in public, that they are followers of the newest kids on the block.

"I'm afraid that I have to admit that I'm a fan of the Jonas Brothers," says Andrea Burkert, 39, of Fulton, who likes to joke that her 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son are the "beards" that allow her to attend JB concerts without losing face.

"Their tunes are really catchy. I embarrass my kids by humming their songs around the house. The Jonas Brothers already are big, and they're going to be huge."

Misty Capps, 37, of Frederick will attend the concert with her 7-year-old daughter, Rachel. Capps, a pacemaker specialist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, hopes to buy a Jonas Brothers T-shirt she can wear under her scrubs.

"I started watching them with my daughter on the Disney Channel," Capps said. "But I didn't buy tickets for the concert until I started to like their music. I told my husband that Rachel wanted to go to the concert. He said, 'No, you want to go.' He got me there."

What inspires an otherwise mature, responsible adult to mingle with a bunch of shrieking prepubescents?

Laura Dam, senior editor of People magazine, thinks that nostalgia is part of the attraction.

"We were talking about this in the office just the other day," she says. "One of my colleagues is in her late 20s, and she says that her friends of the same age are obsessed with the Jonas Brothers. Maybe it's just a way to relive their youths, to remember what it felt like when they were in high school and had a crush on the members of a boy band. I grew up in the '80s, and I loved Duran Duran. When the original five members reunited a few years ago, I was thrilled."

In addition, the Jonas Brothers are perceived as more authentic than similar groups. For starters, 15-year-old Nick, 18-year-old Joe and 20-year-old Kevin Jonas really are brothers. They play their own instruments and write their own melodies and lyrics.

"Their music is all right," Dam says. "I don't think the songs will be among the hundred greatest songs of the 21st century. But it's not total fluff. It's more than just disposable pop."

Chiseled cheekbones and an artfully tousled mane might win fans initially, but only genuine ability will induce music lovers to buy a performer's albums after the initial rush of enthusiasm has faded.

"Being cute helps, but it's not enough," Dam says. "You definitely need talent, too. The Jonas Brothers are sincere about their musical tastes. They clearly have their own opinions and history, their own aesthetic."

For the briefcase set, though, fandom comes at a price.

"It's slightly weird that the youngest one is 15," Capps said. "I have a son who is older than both Nick and Joe. Grown women can get away with being fans of boy bands. If a man my age went to a Hannah Montana concert, people would think he was a pervert."

The group's adult fans strive to express their support in a dignified manner befitting their advanced years.

Burkert, for instance, owns a Jonas Brothers T-shirt in a children's size that she layers over another top.

"It looks like a baby tee on me," she says.

When she attends the concert tonight with her daughter and son, she is sure to sway along to the music. She might even click a portable lighter, but she draws the line at full-throttle screaming.

"I don't want to embarrass my children," she says. "I'm not ridiculous. I know my age."

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

More than just a teen music act

It's easy to forget that some of the biggest stars in the history of American popular music initially were dismissed as teen acts.

* The Beatles. With their blunt-cup mop tops and such catchy, innocent tunes as "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," the Fab Four initially were considered a palatable, parent-approved alternative to the Rolling Stones.

* George Michael. Andrew Ridgeley was the heartthrob of the 1980s boy duo Wham!, but George Michael was the talent. After the group split up in 1986, Michael became a star on his own.

* Justin Timberlake. In the 1990s, Timberlake was one of the lead singers of the boy band 'N Sync. Timberlake's solo albums have sold more than 18 million copies and have won critical acclaim.

If you go

The Jonas Brothers will perform at 7 tonight at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. Tickets are $47.50-$77.50. Call 410-547-7328 or go to ticketmaster.com.

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