Growing up, I had somehow missed out on the phase most girls go through with the teenage heartthrob pop star. Going to Jesse McCartney’s show on Saturday, I was very curious to see if this show would be a crash course into that part of life. And while I left the show still grounded in my rock/alternative roots, I felt like I had been temporarily but fully immersed in teenage heartthrob fan culture.
Escorted by my roommate who was well-versed in Jesse McCartney’s discography (she assured me that she was in love with McCartney when she was in middle school), we arrived at the Granada thirty minutes before doors to a very long line, a line that only grew longer as we waited. This line consisted of, believe it or not, almost entirely girls. While there were a few male fans or boyfriends in the crowd, it was obvious that McCartney had claimed a monopoly over the female audience. But from the smiling faces and excited chatter, it was also obvious that Jesse McCartney meant something to these girls. While waiting in line, I overheard a lot of them confess their middle school crush on Jesse McCartney. There was a lot of reminiscing about that time in life, and what it was like when they were younger. It was no wonder that this was a sold-out show.
Inside the venue, the crowd was just as excited. By the time that the lights came on and the support band, Jean Claude & The Eclairs, came out the crowd was full of screaming. I liked what I saw, as they played about a 30 minute set with a lot of covers that the audience clearly knew and enjoyed as they sang along. Their music style was pop rock, and I was glad to hear that they were a local Kansas band. It was also nice to hear their statement about always wanting to play at the Granada, and how it was amazing that this was their first time.
After the support band, Jesse McCartney came on stage and the crowd exploded. Not literally, but girls began screaming at very high volumes that had me reaching for the earplugs inside my pocket. McCartney was only accompanied by one guitarist on stage, who he worked well with. While the guitarist stayed in one place throughout the performance, McCartney moved all over the stage flashing dance moves and interacting with the audience. Within three seconds of any song beginning, the crowd would scream in recognition as they began to sing along. Almost everybody in the crowd knew every word to every song. It had been a long time since I had been in a crowd this devoted and this excited, and it was very special to see.
If McCartney has any superpower, it would have to be how well he works with the crowd. At one point in the night, McCartney asked if there were any birthdays in the audience. Identifying one birthday girl, McCartney asked her for her name and then proceeded to sing her happy birthday, which was actually pretty sweet. Later in the performance, McCartney asked for a volunteer to help him out on stage. This request resulted in the screams doubling as all of the girls clamored for him to choose them. The girl he chose came up on stage to be sat on a stool, at which point he sang a song and serenaded her. A girl near me told her friends that it was “the best $12 she’s ever spent”, referencing the ticket price for the girl on stage. That was hilarious but also probably true, given that the girl was blushing and smiling throughout the serenade.
McCartney ended the night with an encore, and when the show was over a happy and excited crowd poured into the sidewalks outside the venue. I overheard one girl call it “the best night of her life.” I might believe her, as for many people in the audience that performance was probably a dream come true to see their childhood star on stage. The energy and excitement were consistent in the audience both before, during, and after the show. That’s something that’s really special, and I’m glad that I got to be a part of it.