Pillbox

Jonas Brothers Concert

The screams roll through the arena, growing louder and louder until they seem to hit an even higher decibel when the stage lights blare, and the first beats of “Rollercoaster” fill the room. The Jonas Brothers are back, and they’re putting on a show.

On their comeback tour in support of their hit album, Happiness Begins, the Jonas Brothers stopped at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday, Sept. 3. In the six years since they officially disbanded, they’ve grown up, had some solo career success, and got married. You could say the same for many of their fans: we grew up. The crowd ranges from older teenagers to young moms in their early thirties, with older parents, young kids, and the occasional boyfriends and husbands sprinkled around the packed show.

And the Jonas Brothers can really put on a show. Since they returned, they have been clear that they are embracing their past. In concert, they seamlessly alternate between songs from the new album and old hits from their young teen days. After a great kickoff performance with “Rollercoaster,” the nostalgia-filled track from the new album, all I can hear are cheers as they begin “S.O.S.”

Moving from “Strangers” to another oldie, “Fly With Me,” and back to a Happiness Begins track, “Used to Be,” the crowd knows them all. The brothers — Kevin, Joe, and Nick — aren’t dancers, but they move easily after growing up on stage, this time in dapper solid-color suits (Kevin in green, Joe in blue, Nick in orange) instead of coordinated boy-band leather and black skinny jeans.

Though most of the show was spent on the main stage, they also walk to the B-stage on the other side of the room to where I sat at the top of the arena. During “Hesitate,” they stand on a levitating stage that propels them upwards, surrounded by a sea of phone flashlights. The song from the new album is Joe’s letter to his wife, actress Sophie Turner, and the emotional moment, with some of the crowd singing along but others simply listening, makes it intimate, even in a huge arena with thousands of people.

Sometime during the night Joe mentions how hard it was to choose the tracklist since they’ve recorded over 200 songs when you add up the studio albums, concert albums, and soundtracks they did for Camp Rock and their Disney show. They ask the crowd for requests and choose “Hello Beautiful” from their self-titled second studio album.

And again, the concert shifts, never staying in the same place, barging forward with momentum. Throughout the night, songs are introduced by cheesy but touching videos of the brothers and younger versions of themselves, who are so well-cast for a moment I thought they were using old footage. But they are well-produced and expensive-looking, taking place when the young boys are camping in the woods, playing in the street, or having fun at a carnival. The video signals the change to another throwback moment: present-day Nick and his younger self meet on a blue light-tinged beach. The stage lights hit Nick alone on the B-stage, belting the first notes of “Jealous,” the biggest hit of his successful solo career. Joe appears on the main stage for the second verse, with Nick joining him for the chorus.

Then comes “Cake by the Ocean,” the big earworm hit from Joe’s funk-pop band DNCE. It’s a fun summer song, and the screens brighten up the room with neon colors that match the rainbow stage lights rotating around the crowd. From confetti to yellow inflatable tube men to everyone screaming the lyrics, it’s electric.

During the two solo songs, Nick and Joe are only joined by the supporting band, sans Kevin. The oldest of the brothers doesn’t sing much and chose to pursue some business ventures and raise a family during the hiatus.

The next video follows Kevin walking through a green forest, accompanied by his two young daughters, stoic and strong. He meets his younger self and teaches him to play piano, as a grand piano is lowered from the ceiling in front of the screen, onto the stage. The real Kevin, the one there in the arena, takes his place at the piano and plays the first rousing notes of “Comeback,” the closing song of the comeback album, and is joined by his brothers.

If the concert had ended there, I doubt anyone would have left unsatisfied. But the band knows what the crowd wants, and dives into performances of emotional banger “When You Look Me In The Eyes” and “I Believe.” Back on the B-stage, they take a break to speak to their fans, saying, “Thank you for sticking by us,” and drink a shot together in celebration.

“Let’s do something special for the OG Jonas Brothers fans.” And they do, playing a long medley of old hits and some lesser-known cuts. And the OG fans — the young girls who decorated their bedroom walls with merch and bought every CD five times — they feasted, singing lyrics to each other, jumping up and down, instantly transported to 10 years ago. Others might have been fans simply because being a young girl in the late 2000s meant you were a Jonas Brothers fan, even if you didn’t know every lyric to every song. That was me, but it’s okay because I can follow along to some of the lyrics and move to their solid, catchy melodies. Their older stuff has a much more rock sensibility, with heavy electric guitar and even heavier drums, and injected the show with new energy.

While their comeback single “Sucker” has been a huge bona fide hit in 2019 pop music, the band knows that for their passionate fans, nothing beats the old hits. When “Lovebug” begins, and later “Year 3000,” I don’t think I’ve ever been around more screams, around so much sound in my ears. For the encore, they jump out from below the stage and launch into “Burnin’ Up” and “Sucker,” a partnership of their biggest hit from pre-hiatus and their recent single.

And as they barrel to the big finish, the lights flash over the whole arena and I can see the thousands of people here. We’re singing — no, screaming — at the top of our lungs, dancing to the music, laughing with our friends, and for two hours, we’re kids again. It’s thunderous, absolutely deafening, the sound traveling up to my seat. But it doesn’t matter that my ears barely work, or my feet hurt from standing all night. Because in this moment, all we feel is the freedom, the joy, the complete happiness of being here.