It was supposed to be the night of their lives.
A few thousand young ticketholders came through the gates at Darien Lake’s amphitheater Friday night hoping for a night to remember – the night their precious dreams would come true. Because after a three-year gap in their proven pop machine routine, the Jonas Brothers could still make magic happen.
They could still make and break hearts; they could still imbue anxious, hormonal urges with wholesome, pure reactions; they could still even sell a few records and a few tickets, even though, in their particular industry, time was not on their side. It goes without saying that three years in the pop bubble is an eternity. That the Jonases could rekindle that magic for them and theirs is a special kind of feat, a special kind of Friday night.
But as the city’s outdoor-concertgoers stand witness to, weather happens when it does. That massive rainstorm – with its epic lightning show itself worth a ticket – dumped onto Darien unforgivably just before The Jonai were scheduled to begin.
The rain eventually shut down on-stage operations after the third opening slot, a second DJ set from Mike Tompkins, whose live karaoke and split-screen video performance was an exciting lead-up. Before that, an energetic set from Karmin, who, like Tompkins, were plucked out of YouTube and entered the iTunes charts with enough gusto and skill to justify the beginning of a career.
The two – Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan – were playful together, throwing each other cues and flirting with each other and their fans. The couple, who are reportedly engaged, met at the Berklee College of Music, where Noonan’s jazz would suggest Karmin’s well-played trombone, and Heidemann’s punk panache would give way to a humble, obvious Gwen Stefani nod. Like Tompkins, they rose to acclaim with song covers, but they are doing their own thing now – and it’s good. Their set was fun, punchy, youthful and smart – a perfect opening act.
It would end up being the highlight of this truncated night. The rain, buckets worth, had already been coming down by the end of Tompkin’s last set, rushing down the canopy’s gutters and streaming down the pitched concrete floor from the empty lawn’s runoff. It felt like the deck of a boat lost at sea, with passengers quietly concerned, secretly frantic. The collective teen angst was now a collective meteorological standby. Facebook and Twitter stood in for the National Weather Service.
The announcement of a 30-minute rain delay should have been the red flag to pack it in. The venue’s representative told patrons they could wait it out under the canopy or return to their cars until further notice. (You’re not sent to your car unless you’re meant to leave in it, though.) Venue officials reacted promptly and properly. There was no hysteria from the seats, either. Overhead music played on, fans sat and wondered, and everything was in order.
And then, the song circles started. Pockets of JoBro songs were being summoned, sung in untamed, untuned unison. There was no chaos, no insanity, no cataclysmic, gurney-ready, exhaustion-fueled insanity, as had been exhibited Monday night at the Justin Bieber concert, which went on without such a technical hitch, but also without any reasonable restraint.
The difference between these fans, even with their en masse overlap, was night and day. This was more of a sit-in, a peaceful protest to the situation. Their mothers have taught them well, but also, at least to this uninitiated JoBro listener, gave suspicion that their wholesome influence had something to do with these manners, too. Had their show gone on, it would have been wild and crazy, loud for sure, but not a storm, just, maybe, a sun-shower.
The last official word from the stage was that for safety reasons, the show could not go on as scheduled, but would be postponed until future notice. A disappointed, obligatory boo from the crowd, a shrug of the shoulders, and a stampede into that nasty rain followed. And just like that, what was meant to be the perfect night got split into two.