Off the Record with Kevin and Joe Jonas – Keswick Theater – Glenside, PA – June 7, 2014
So what becomes of teen pop stars when they give up the pop?
The Jonas Brothers suddenly announced their breakup (as a band, not as brothers) last year, surprising their hardcore fans – a constituency which admittedly had shrunk somewhat since their heyday as Disney Channel heartthrobs about five years ago. All of the guys had somewhat been straying from the band idea for a while: Joe was starting to concentrate on acting, Nick put together his own band on the side and Kevin had become a dad.
Still, these guys had been making music since they were little boys. When the split happened, it begged the question, what is next for the Jonas boys?
This show featuring two of the three brothers, part of a three-stop East coast mini-tour, appears to be the answer. It was recently announced with a certain amount of fanfare and also a bit of mystery. This Philly area stop was the second of the three shows (one had been in Wilmington, Delaware, and the other one was in their hometown of Freehold, New Jersey.)
It was promoted as an interactive spoken word tour. Which got people wondering – if they weren’t going to sing, what exactly were they going to do? The Jonases don’t seem the type to do stand up, or to get topical or rant about society, like say Henry Rollins. So what’s the dealio?
The crowd was made up almost entirely of teenaged girls who were decked out to make sure that Kevin and Joe knew that they had developed since the boys last saw them. It was not a huge audience (actually the venue was about half empty), but the girls who were there were very passionate fans, screeching their appreciation and love throughout.
The empty seats probably were not totally an indictment on the guys’ waning popularity, more likely people just weren’t sure what exactly the Jonas Brothers were planning on doing if they weren’t singing. And would taking a chance to find out whatever it was be worth the slightly hefty ticket price (particularly on a young girl’s budget)?
It turns out that Off the Record with Kevin and Joe Jonas was a celebration of all things Jonas, a virtual Jonas convention complete with Q&As, cute baby videos and lots and lots of filmed footage of the group’s glory days. Their long-time best friend acted as emcee, asking questions he had collected from the crowd and sort interviewing/reminiscing with the guys.
The show started with a tease right off the bat. Sitting on a rather comfy looking living room set, taking questions from the crowd, the first one addressed the elephant in the room: Why did you guys break up? The guys looked faux uncomfortable, Kevin even grabbing a beer from a piece of stage setting (this ain’t the Disney Channel no more, guys!). Then they said we’ll get to that later. Maybe. And then they kept pushing the question back as it kept getting asked in different ways. Later, when another girl asked where little brother Nick was that night, the guys vaguely said he was working on a new TV show.
And after a few minutes of talking and a couple of questions answered, cue the next video montage.
The guys were charming, mostly funny, flirting gamely with their audience of young girls. As an adult man, they didn’t even care that I was there, which is fine, it was the way it should be. I’m not their audience. They talked about being a Jonas and being a father and being an actor and the crazy whirl of pop stardom. And there were lots of videos. Scenes of the guys singing. Bloopers. The guys as little boys in their first theatrical roles.
They had a trivia game called “Know Your Bro” which put a fan up against each Jonas in a trivia contest about the other brother. We all learned that Joe Jonas has nightmares of being chased by Avril Lavigne. Who knew? Actually, the girl playing along knew. Good for her. For knowing that, she won a chance to take a picture with the Jonas boys and Santa Claus (yes, it is June), for her holiday card shot. The picture was taken on a Polaroid (who knew there were still Polaroids?), I guess so that it wouldn’t easily end up online.
And just over an hour into the show, it was over, probably close to half of that time was watching clips on a screen which have been seen before. However, none of the fans seemed to feel shortchanged as they filed out. It was an orgy of the senses for Jonas fans. And if you don’t care about the Jonases, you’d have been bored stiff. Then again, you wouldn’t have been there anyway. As the old song goes, the boys don’t like it, but the little girls understand.
Jay S. Jacobs