Happiness Begins: A Night With the Jonas Brothers

I know them, you know them. Their high tenor voices and classic 2000s guitar riffs came filtered through your CD player, their curly haired-heads and soft eyes were plastered to your closet door, and their show on Disney Channel wasn’t that good, but you watched it anyway. A group so influential in your young and flowering tween life that, even if you were “too cool” to be into such friff-fraff, they still found a way into your heart. 

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    The Jonas Brothers. A band, a brotherhood, an institution. Who would we, raised as we were in the peak of the over-saturated Disney Channel glory days, be without these three? Their catalogue of hits, their far-out music videos, and their prominence in the grand Disney teen spotlight truly can’t be overhyped. They were such a centerpiece of Disney’s programming that they starred in almost every show that Disney had in its lineup, playing themselves as guest stars on Hannah Montana, the romantic leads of the Camp Rock series, and a version of themselves on the pseudo-reality show Jonas. But, as all Disney stars rise, so must they fall, and when the band broke up in 2013, it looked like the Brothers Jonas had finally headed down that well-trodden path to obscurity.  But these iconic brothers weren’t just a flash in the pan, another fleeting success that would only live in the memories of old signed posters and ancient tour shirts from 2009. No, the Jonas Brothers had a different destiny set out for them.

And so that brings us to today, 2019, the year when nothing makes sense and everything feels a little wonky. If you’re a twenty-something such as myself, you’re probably in over your head. After all, everything’s expensive, college can be insanely difficult, and the expectations put on you to constantly give of yourself seem to go up every year. You’re expected to work at a job and love it, to give all of your energy to school and kill it, to take your life seriously and make sure it’s set in place to turn out all right (even though we ultimately know that life is unpredictable and planning doesn’t always make it better), when all you really want to do is get back to the good, simple days of early-2000s pop. For me, this year created a windstorm of chaos, early adulthood, and nostalgia so powerful that it seemed to grasp, out of the very heavens, that very thing which I didn’t know I was missing--a return of the most iconic brotherband of the early 2000s, a miracle dressed to impress and ready to sing their sweet Jersey hearts out for you.

Let me set the scene: it's a Monday night and you’re at the Hollywood Bowl, waiting for the three most handsome men in the world to sing with you. Your expectations could not be higher if you set them in the very stars. The stage is already covered with balloons, you’re sitting with a friend you love, and you kind of can’t believe that you’re about to see the Jonas Brothers--as in Nick, Joe, and lovely Kevin--together again, performing the songs you scream-sang in the car as a tween. It almost doesn’t feel real, and there’s no way they could possibly meet your impossibly high standards. And then, after years and years of anticipation, they emerge, and somehow they do it--and it’s the best party you’ve ever been to in your life.

The Jonas Brothers are handsome, humble, and sound even better than you remember them. Their set is a beautiful mix of the old and new, intertwining their modern sound with classics like Burning Up and Year 3000. There are pyrotechnics, fireworks, streamers, lights, strobes, and every effect you could wish for. The band wanders out into the crowd more than once, and are so engaged with the people at the front of the stage that you can hear their happy shrieks from the very top of the amphitheater. Whether it’s an acoustic cover of This is Me or their breakout single Sucker, Nick, Joe, and Kevin are locked in, engaged, and full of energy and talent at every turn. The brothers each have their own moment on stage to sing a song or play a tune from their broken-up days, and it’s like the venue takes a breath--these aren’t just friends who got back together for kicks, but real brothers, who loved and supported one another so much that they want to display the best of each other to the world, and who aren’t ashamed of their early work. The Jonas Brothers, unlike other returning acts, don’t shy away from nostalgia, but lean into it with a rare grace and love that mirrors your own. Life is short, the band seems to say, so why not love the old songs, and sing along with unabashed enthusiasm? Why not listen to the band you loved when you were thirteen, and scream-sing their lyrics all over again?

The night ends with one final explosive fireworks show. You leave the amphitheater in a crowd of other twenty-somethings, as glitter, popcorn, and beer poured on the ground mix with your still-bouncing steps on the hard concrete earth, and you’ve got a song stuck in your head that you hope will never leave. And it’s there, when you finally reach your car, and you’re already calculating how long the drive home and subsequent homework session will take, that it hits you--you’ve grown up, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop listening to the Jonas Brothers. The Jonas Brothers grew up with you. So, you crank the radio, a smile forms on your face, and you let the harmonizing voices of Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas carry you one more time into the brightly-colored, loving arms of a memory of you, a friend, and the day when Happiness Begins anew.