Nick Jonas and his brothers played Sunday night at the Marcus Amphitheater.
Nick Jonas and his brothers played Sunday night at the Marcus Amphitheater.

An interesting evening with the Jonas Brothers

Man, it must have been impossible to get a babysitter in the suburbs tonight.

Upon walking into the Jonas Brothers concert Sunday night at the Marcus Amphitheater, that was my very first thought.

The facility was packed to the rafters on the final night of Summerfest 2008 and the clean-cut, multi-talented band of brothers from New Jersey brought out throngs of female teens, ‘tweens and every demographic between for the third night of their "Burning Up" tour.

You say you've never heard of Kevin, Joe and Nick? Then it's obvious that you don't have any girls between the ages of 6 and 16 living in your house. If you did, the JoBros' Disney TV movie "Camp Rock" would occupy much of your DVR memory and you'd likely have felt pressure to attend the concert Sunday night -- or stand nervously outside the venue while your princess and her friends did.

My second thought, upon entering the Amphitheater, was "Man, I have got to find some earplugs."

This revelation came several minutes before opening act Demi Lovato, a co-star of "Camp Rock," took the stage. When the footage of the Jonas Brothers aired on the video screens, which were tough to see at dusk, the roar that rose to the rafters resembled a jet engine taking off. Remember the film clip of the Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan? Multiply that by 10.

With my lovely wife and nearly 8-year-old daughter nestled in their seats, I headed out to the concession area, said hello to Wave coach Keith Tozer, who was chaperoning six young ladies, and noticed that the beer lines were virtually empty.

Those bartenders couldn't have liked that booking, particularly after serving thirsty Tom Petty fans 24 hours earlier. (Come to think of it, there was next to no pot smoke drifting over the seating area Sunday -- a stark contrast to the Heartbreakers' appearance the previous night).

At the t-shirt stand, I asked a woman if they had earplugs. Her answer "We sure do. They're $2." As I forked over the smartest $6 I've spent all summer, the woman explained: "My first tour was with New Kids on the Block and I knew we needed to start carrying ear plugs."

Like New Kids, Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, Hanson and others who have come before, the Jonas Brothers are the heartthrobs of moment. Though cell phone cameras may not have been as prevalent in their respective heydays, the signs in the audience probably were holdovers: "Will you marry me?" "Sign my cast" and "Meet and greet?" were a decent cross section.

After the usually tedious changeover and a few video commercials and public service announcements, the Jonas Brothers' father came out and "upgraded" a few fans by giving them ninth-row seats.

At about 8:45 p.m., the lights dimmed and the brothers ascended from below the multi-level stage amid the usual array of lasers and other effects. In many cases, such concert gadgetry is designed to compensate for shortcomings in the music.

The Jonas Brothers, however, seem like pretty talented kids. The show-opening "That's Just the Way We Roll," and "BB Good" are catchy bubblegum tracks. Though the songs suffered from some degree of sameness and it's never certain how much of the music at these things is "real" and what is "flown in" via recording or backing musician, the individual personalities of the Jonas Brothers kept things interesting.

Lead singer Joe, 18, has some range and borrows moves from Mick Jagger and other front men. His guitar-wielding older sibling Kevin, 20, chunked out power chords and threw in an occasional lead lick while providing backing vocals.

The driving force behind the band, though, is 15-year-old Nick, who looks like a younger version of the late Howie Epstein, a Milwaukee native who came to fame playing bass for Tom Petty.

Nick Jonas, who started appearing in Broadway productions before he was eight, played guitar, drums and piano with a professionalism beyond his years. His battle with Type-1 diabetes inspired the title track of the band's upcoming disc "A Little Bit Longer," which will be in stores Aug. 12.

Demi Lovato, who played the female lead in "Camp Rock," opened the show with a brief set of songs from her album. Lovato is an interesting cog in the Disney star machine because she is not a dazzling vocalist and isn't freakishly cute. Perhaps it is her "every girl" persona, similar to Kelly Clarkson's, which attracts fans.

Lovato slipped some vocal gymnastics and a little falsetto into some of her slower numbers, but seemed content to "sell" the songs with enthusiasm rather than technical proficiency. She played guitar on a few numbers and her attempts at stage banter fell mostly into the "Are you having fun yet?" and "Are you ready to party?" variety.

Lovato's backing band was non-descript. The drummer, introduced as "Animal," bore a slight resemblance to actor Rainn Wilson from "The Office." (Now there is a video I'd like to see!)

Lovato joined the Jonas Brothers onstage for their set and seemed to raise her performance a notch, a sign that she may lack the experience to captivate a festival audience on her own.

Talkbacks

alba | July 7, 2008 at 2:23 p.m. (report)

They actually ran out of MGD during the Tom Petty concert. How could that happen, especially when they refuse to fill the cups within 2 inches of the top?

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merchgirl | July 7, 2008 at 12:06 p.m. (report)

Found it very interesting that not one child or parent happened to notice that one of the shirts and matching bag sported the "Jonas Brothers Tuor". Way to go Amerika and Disneey.

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