Earlier this year, I saw a Buzzfeed quiz titled “Which Jonas Brother Are You Most Compatible With?” with the subheadline “Everyone needs to know this about themselves!!” I apparently agreed, because I ended up filling out my Sunday activity, Disney Channel movie, and pop diva duet preferences at 4 a.m. so the Buzzfeed machine could digest my data and tell me, definitively, which Jonas Brother was my soulmate (it was Nick).
The process took me back to the teen magazine quizzes of the late 2000s, before Instagram and Snapchat existed, while Obama was still president, and when it felt like the Jonas Brothers — tied by family and by music — were going to be forever. Of course, this was before their breakup in 2013, an event irrevocably burned into the collective consciousness of that teen/tween generation. At the height of their initial popularity, the Jonas Brothers were everywhere, starring in Disney’s Camp Rock and their own self-titled TV show and making headlines with the Jonas-Demi-Miley-Selena drama. The audiences at their shows, based on clips from their Amazon Prime documentary Chasing Happiness, were mostly white middle school girls with glittery posters and untethered joy, asking for the Jonas Brothers’ hand in marriage.
The audience at the Chase Center was similar, except several years older and trying to not spill overflowing plastic cups of beer on other audience members as they waved fanny packs and glow sticks at the empty stage. Before the Jonas Brothers made their appearance, large screens on both sides of the stage looped between a phone number with the caption “Text Us” (if you actually call the number you’ll hear a message recorded by the Jonas Brothers themselves), an advertisement for the new Jonas Brothers’ memoir BLOOD written in ominous red serif text, and a black-and-white commercial for Nick Jonas’ sustainable tequila line, Villa One Tequila. In the video, the Jonas Brothers poured shots of Villa One Tequila at a pool party, cheersed other conventionally attractive people with Villa One Tequila, and toasted their glasses of Villa One Tequila to fireworks bursting in the sky.
Eventually, the screens changed to a video of the Jonas Brothers transforming into three young boys, presumably representing a younger version of the Jonas Brothers. When the Jonas Brothers themselves finally appeared, they descended into a mass of smoke from the ceiling in monochromatic suits that made them look a little bit like a pack of orange, green, and blue Crayolas. They kicked off the concert with Rollercoaster, a pop-folksy tune that was nearly completely drowned out by the screams of the crowd, which reached a frequency so powerful that it sometimes induced pain throughout the night. I eventually realized that the crayon suits served a practical purpose: There’s no way you would be able to see the Jonas Brothers as more than a hazy dot in most parts of the Chase Center, a behemoth stadium, let alone their faces or any other distinguishers. But this way, each brother had their own color-coded signifier.
The two-hour concert was structured loosely around the prefacing video. Every time a “young Jonas Brother” appeared, so did the old Jonas Brother for some sort of dramatic reconciliation. Nick and Young Nick met in a stretch of desert filled with plumes of pink smoke. When a video of a piano descending from the heavens into a lush forest appeared, someone behind me screamed, “It’s friggin’ Kevin!!!” and they were right: Kevin and his two daughters appeared to meet Young Kevin. After each reckoning, a different song representing a different brother would play. “Jealous” for Nick, “Cake by the Ocean” for Joe, a piano solo for Kevin. The whole concert felt like a balancing act, trying to sum up fourteen years of turbulence and over a hundred songs succinctly. How do you play all the beloved throwbacks and the hits from their independent careers while still proving that the Jonas Brothers are more relevant than mere nostalgic pieces — that they’re still doing something new?
It’s hard when you’ve had such a complicated career at such an early age. The Jonas Brothers were signed by Columbia records when they were just teens. Since then, they’ve moved on from a quiet life as the minister’s sons in a New Jersey town through Disney stardom and massive boyband success, becoming the teen heartthrobs of America until their devastating breakup in 2013, which led to inevitable, temporary obscurity until their independent careers took off, and the Jonas Brothers found who they were aside from each other before reuniting for an unexpected comeback in 2019. The Jonas Brothers are only aged 27 to 31.
A lot has changed since 2013. In the first era of their career, the Jonas Brothers did flips with guitars in mid-air, sliding across the stage with nonchalance, and pulled all sorts of gymnastic stunts during their concerts. Now they’re less spry, not really dancing as much as simply striding across the stage.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to put on a show. In a wonderfully ridiculous move, clouds of confetti blasted into the air along with wacky inflatable men, furiously dancing to Cake by the Ocean with their permanent smiles. At one point, Nick launched into a long, winding speech about having the best fans in the world, dripping with all the anticipated sentimentality of concert speeches when performers thank you so, so much for coming, for believing in them, for making their “dreams come true a second time.” Except, this time, the speech was supplemented by alcohol. Shots (presumably of Villa One Tequila) were being poured for each of the Jonas Brothers and a few, potentially-probably-planted audience members close to the stage. “We all get to come here in this stadium, and celebrate life, love, music, family,” Nick said as they waved their shot glasses to the crowd. “It’s a beautiful thing. You know what else is? Tequila.” All three brothers took a shot.
It was a bizarrely transparent self-promotion, but the crowd loved it, cheering as the jumbo-screens showed audience members toasting the Jonas Brothers. Because if they were drinking with the Jonas Brothers, then by transitive property, you were also drinking with the Jonas Brothers. That’s what Nick seemed to think, at least. “If you’re drinking with us tonight,” Nick said, “raise your glass.” Better yet if that glass has Villa One Tequila.
Aside from the somewhat embarrassing self-promotion, it’s hard to find a real complaint about the Jonas Brothers’ concert, because at the end of the day, they’re good singers with likable songs. There’s not much more you can ask for out of a show.
At the end of the concert, the Jonas Brothers chose to end with Sucker, the single that announced their comeback, instead of Burnin’ Up, the penultimate song of the night and an iconic signifier of their younger days. The message was clear: Despite their fanbase’s foundation in nostalgia and their tumultuous history, the Jonas Brothers want to be looking toward the future, not their past.
“We love you,” Nick said. “We ain’t going anywhere.”