Photos by Diego Cagara
ALBANY — “If you told me two years ago that I would be on this stage, I would say you’re lying. But tonight, I’m here with my brothers,” said musician Kevin Jonas to a nearly sold-out Times Union Center on Monday, Aug, 19.
As fans responded with frenzied screams, recording smartphones and unashamedly loud merchandise, it was dizzyingly unmistakable how the Jonas Brothers meant a lot to the mostly young and female-dominated audience. The trio — Joe Jonas on lead vocals; Nick Jonas on vocals and rhythm guitar; and Kevin Jonas on lead guitar and backing vocalist — stopped at Albany as part of their Happiness Begins Tour, which supports their same-named comeback album released in June.
The Jonas Brothers have been active in the entertainment industry since 2005, with a major role in the late 2000s Disney Channel era, collaborations with fellow singer Demi Lovato, and releasing four studio albums through 2009. Gathering up a passionate young fanbase, their sudden break-up on Oct. 29, 2013 coincided with the cancelation of their fifth album and shocked their followers.
Each member then pursued solo projects but sent the music scene into an S.O.S. when they abruptly announced their comeback with the single, “Sucker,” on Feb. 28 this year. The song topped several countries’ music charts, including the Billboard Hot 100 and was followed by its parent album, “Happiness Begins,” which boasted the largest first-week sales this year with 414,000 copies. This record, however, was later broken by Taylor Swift’s “Lover” album, which sold 450,000 copies on its first day alone on Friday, Aug. 23.
When the Happiness Begins tour was announced to come to Albany, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy announced a part of South Pearl Street to be named Jonas Brothers Way, which attracted mixed reception, in anticipation of their arrival.
The concert mainly centered on the themes of nostalgia and reconnecting with one’s childhood, as exemplified by how the Jonas Brothers felt like a much-welcomed time capsule from the 2000s. Interludes and screened visuals throughout the night showed the three brothers turn into much younger versions of themselves, which added to the concert’s cathartic nature as fans had waited years for their potential reunion.
That cathartic atmosphere exploded when the trio started the night with their 2008 song, “Burnin’ Up” which was further complemented by the use of pyrotechnics. Ending this song, the brothers looked visibly shocked at the sheer volume of screaming fans before them, even peering at one another with grins in disbelief. Throughout the night, they alternated between playing the main front stage, traveling down a slim runway through the floor seats, and performing on a smaller second stage to cater more to the back audience.
The band’s older songs like “S.O.S.,” “Fly with Me” and “Lovebug” received some of the loudest applause and enthusiasm from the audience, with fans echoing the all-so-familiar lyrics. This proved that the brothers understood how important these “childhood anthems” meant to their fans and they revelled in exploring their older music catalogue. The crowd scrambled in surprise when Nick began performing his 2014 solo song, “Jealous” which Joe also sang from the first chorus onwards. This was followed by “Cake by the Ocean,” Joe’s catchy 2016 song with his former band DNCE. For this number, inflatable tube men and confetti exploded on the scene to add to the concert’s overall positive atmosphere.
Staying on the nostalgia train, the Jonas Brothers gauged the audience to offer some fan requests and they played “Turn Right,” “Just Friends” and “Gotta Find You.” The latter became one of the night’s most memorable highlights as fans remembered it from the soundtrack of Disney’s 2008 landmark film, “Camp Rock.” As it was being performed, one couldn’t help but imagine if their former co-star Demi Lovato may make a surprise appearance.
The newer songs like “Cool,” “Only Human,” “Comeback” and “Rollercoaster” also offered thrilling moments, although it was clear that not all audience members knew the lyrics. A surge in screams and applause followed when they began performing the familiar introductory guitar strings to their 2007 hit, “Year 3000” where fans jumped in unison during its lively chorus. The night ended with their recent smash hit, “Sucker” where the trio wanted lights on the audience so they could see them one final time before heading offstage.
The concert’s two openers were Jordan McGraw and Bebe Rexha, the latter offering soaring vocals, sassy choreography and familiar songs like “The Monster” and “Me, Myself & I.” The former’s set, unfortunately, was a mystery to most of the audience as he began around 7:40 p.m. and the Times Union Center’s security screening process was moving at a glacial pace.
Although the arena was supposed to have its doors open at 6:30 p.m. and McGraw’s set begin at 7:30 p.m., the doors would open just after 7:35 p.m., causing many waiting fans to express dissatisfaction with the delayed security screening process and to miss much of McGraw’s opening set. There was evident confusion as fans, once let in by security, debated heading to their seats to watch McGraw perform or lining up for the restrooms and to purchase food and merchandise.
Nevertheless, numerous people took photos with the Jonas Brothers Way road sign outside while they waited for the security line. The sign served as a final reminder of the concert fans originally thought they had to wait until the year 3000 for, as they exited the arena with numb chatter and beaming smiles just after 11 p.m.