It was incomprehensible.
Furthermore, if you weren’t there you probably didn’t know it happened, despite the act selling out two dates and nearly a third, on a Thursday, a school night.
And that was who were there. Students. Girls. Wanna get laid? Go to a 1D show. You won’t see odds this good at the prison of “Orange Is The New Black.” An endless sea of barely pubescent girls, screaming their heads off. You’d think it was the new Beatles.
Only it wasn’t.
Maybe these kids know the Beatles. But they’ve got no idea who U2 is, never mind want to hear their music. And U2 didn’t sell as many tickets in Pasadena. Because the generations have changed and those in charge don’t want to admit it.
You’re done. History. Kaput. Your children have replaced you. Because they’ve got one thing you do not, PASSION!
There wasn’t the endless stream to the bathroom. The constant walla-walla. The girls were paying attention. Because they needed to. This was everything to them.
The opening act was Five Seconds Of Summer, and I kept listening for the hard drives, but there were none. Yes, the popsters faking it should be very afraid, because 5SOS could actually play! And sing! And harmonize! I was nearly flabbergasted. This is not how it’s supposed to be!
But they’re Australian. The Aussie acts have always been superior players. Because down under you earn your stripes gig by gig, if you don’t deliver live, you’ve got no chance.
But 5SOS were not the Beatles. That’s the problem with both the youngsters and the oldsters, there’s nothing new. That’s why there’s hysteria for the iPhone 6 and shrugs for so much music. So you can replicate what’s been done before…once upon a time music was about pushing the envelope! There was no Jethro Tull before Jethro Tull, never mind the Ramones!
But 5SOS delivered. In front of a set particularized to them. Yup, open for a monster rock act and they’ll ask you to beg for the privilege, treat you badly, keep the sound down. But 5SOS had their own backdrop.
As for 1D…
Here you’ve got an act with just a few hits selling beaucoup tickets. And you may think you’ve seen it before, but New Kids On The Block was not this big.
I started asking questions. Lisa told me that she’d worked both, and in the case of 1D all the members were appealing, every fan had her favorite.
And sure, Harry Styles is an international icon…
But what did impress me about Harry was how nonchalant he was. Just before he went on he was offering us cupcakes. Isn’t he supposed to be in his dressing room, angsting away?
Cynics might say it’s because he doesn’t play an instrument.
But that’s part of the act’s success. That it’s kind of a lark. And they and the audience are all in it together.
And the production was spectacular. And the girls knew every word and sang them. And if you’re somebody who lives in Ferrari/gated community culture you’d be completely flummoxed. As you would be if you’re into retro vinyl, if you haunt club gigs, if you listen to people with bad voices sing their plaintive songs and then bitch that they can’t make any money.
Money? One Direction does over $20 a head in merch. And if you don’t know merch numbers, that’s like someone in major league baseball hitting .650. Positively unheard of.
So I’m not sure what it all means.
I will tell you that radio is not as powerful as it keeps saying it is. Because 1D has not dominated radio. This is the power of the Internet, where kids can discover acts and interact with and talk about them and feel connected in a way we never did when we were addicted to the transistor.
And with music so available, even if you don’t own the album you can play. It’s extremely democratic. Sure, you can beg your parents for the download souvenir, but you can play these tracks on YouTube to your heart’s content. You can sing cover versions that you post on the same service. You can own the act, you can participate.
And you can fantasize about one of the five.
Let me tell you, despite being one of the lone males in a sea of tens of thousands of females, what stunned me is nobody was radiating any sexuality, nobody was dressed like a slut, nobody was making eyes trying to get ahead. This was more like puppy love, even if dirty old men would say some of these girls were fully grown.
1D were their hope and dream. Seeing them completed a circle. And how momentary can it be when tickets went on sale a full year before the performances?
So these girls will grow up and…
I don’t know. I don’t see them just jumping into the usual pop arena.
And look at Five Seconds Of Summer, they’re nothing if not a band. Makes you want to go into the garage and practice.
And the girls got all this. They were not complaining.
And believe me, those backstage weren’t either.
Because the truth is it’s a new music business. And the only way to get ahead is to wipe the slate clean and start over.
Like One Direction and Simon Cowell and Modest Management.
Credit Cowell for having the vision to put this together. Forget criticizing his on screen personality, that’s faded in the U.S. anyway. Cowell might have been caustic, but first and foremost he was smart.
And Modest is run by those who’ve lived through the years you reflect upon so fondly. But wanting to continue in this business Richard Griffiths and Harry Magee are not wedded to the past. And let’s also credit their partner Steve Barnett, who helped make both acts big in the U.S. Barnett and Griffiths go way back.
So in some ways it’s no different. It’s about relationships. It’s about experience. It’s about mania. It’s about music.
But I still can’t wrap my head around it. Exactly why were all those girls there? Exactly why were they all so rabid? 1D is cute and the songs are catchy but does that equal three stadium dates?
Today it does.