by Andi Bricklin
Disney is a star making machine. Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato are just a few names that I can toss out that Disney has cultivated and formed into superstars. Come to think about it Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera also got their start with Disney. So when my inner teenage girl saw that R5, featuring (OMG!) Ross Lynch was playing at the TLA on South Street, I had to score tix!
For my $15 ($15?! Are you kidding me, that’s a Friday night cover charge in most Philly venues) there were three opening bands, of which I only caught Hollywood Ending. All of these bands, including R5 were contestants in Disney’s “N.B.T.” (Next Big Thing) project, where all of the bands get a short 15 minute segment between wildly popular Disney shows and kids can vote for their faves!
The venue was blazing with excitement, teen fandom, screaming (a few crying) teenaged girls all pumped to see the walls of their bedrooms come alive on stage! What I loved so much about these performances is that you could totally tell that the bands were there to put on a show, win over fans and have fun! There was no pretense among them, I even caught the lead singer of Hollywood Ending risking his life by walk through the audience (of screaming teenage girls) without an entourage or a body guard. He even stopped and said hi to me (inner teenage girl screaming, OMG!). The only other person I ever saw cool enough to do that was Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick (and that was after their screaming teenage girl phase).
Well-rehearsed, polished and coiffed, R5 gave their fans a great show. They played everybody’s favorite song all the while showing that these kids can actually play their instruments. Ross Lynch (of Disney’s Austin and Ally) is, for argument’s sake, the lead singer of the band, although each member takes their moment in the spotlight equally. I think the highlight of the show for me (maybe a bathroom break for most) was when the band took a break from the sugar pop songs and threw in a little jazz jam.
All in all a fun show in a great venue. I suggest everyone give R5’s new album Loud a listen, it just may become a guilty pleasure.