Every teenaged girl in the greater Orange County area descended upon Anaheim to check out the latest in a long line of boy band imports. British-Irish quintet One Direction performed to a sold-out–by the venue's smaller, theatre setup's standards– Honda Center and it was every bit as torturous for a male as you could possibly expect.
Though the Brits have a history of gifting us with some of the world's most groundbreaking and iconic artists, we also hold them responsible for some of the worst boy bands ever to don matching outfits and frosted tips (we're talking to you,Take That). And since The Beatles' early mop top days, the whole concept of the boy band has devolved to the point where most of these dudes can't even pick up a guitar anymore (not including the Jonas Brothers). Last night was further affirmation of that.
As the quartet took the stage to a montage that highlighted the likes and dislikes of each band member (kinda like a G-rated Playboy issue), the girls squealed and screamed like nothing I'd ever heard before, and that includes all The Beatles' live bootlegs that I own. When the lads started, the screams got louder and were near deafening at certain points, much to the chagrin of anyone above the legal drinking age.
I'm not sure what it says about us for allowing for the boy band concept to continuously rise from the dead, but it's certainly not good. You would've thought that the recent Backstreet Boys–New Kids On The Block tour was proof enough that the days of turning five hot guys into pre-packaged characters for the benefit of rich record executives is no longer necessary.
The performance itself wasn't God awful, but it was certainly close. There was little to no choreography, but just about everything was scripted, down to the banter between bandmates. But there was some funny crowd interaction during a live Q&A session with the fans at the show via Twitter. Queries ranged from “Can you rap or beatbox?” (they can do the latter, but definitely not the former), and “Who can you impersonate?” Some wiseass even asked them if they knew the “Macarena,” which they actually performed.
Otherwise, generously speaking, this felt more like a middle school dance than an arena concert. Granted, there were a few video montages with the changing seasons that allowed for the lads to change outfits and stage sets (think fall for back to school, etc.) that added some sense of performance to the show. The one shining beacon of light was their backing band. The poor guys who had to provide the actual music were pretty good considering the circumstances, though it was clear most of their talent wasn't being used for the 90-minute set.
Sadly, there will always be a market for this boy band garbage since there will always be teenage girls looking for pin-up idols. The cycle for boy bands coming and going is a lot like a bad case of herpes: just when you think it's finally cured and has gone away, somehow a trigger reactivates and it's back and more horrifying than ever.
Critical Bias: I was there so you didn't have to be.
The Crowd: 99 percent pre-teens or teenaged girls and their poor parents. See below.
Random Notebook Dump: In the midst of this horror, there were some of the best signs I'd ever seen at a show. See below. Oh, and I didn't like getting whacked in the face when one of the dudes in the band accidentally kicked a beach ball that hit me in the kisser.
Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.