Even though he’s just 21 years old, Justin Bieber has been a ubiquitous figure in pop culture for seemingly way too long now. He started off as an adorable, talented teenager whom Usher discovered on YouTube, and, like many people who become famous at a young age, turned into a certified jerkface.
Remember when a petition to get him deported garnered nearly 300,000 signatures? That was just a few months ago.
Despite that it seems almost impossible to get away from Justin Bieber, the fact that I was solidly out of the obsession-with-male-pop-stars age bracket by the time he became famous meant that I was relatively unaware of his music and life and general goings-on. So while I certainly was not looking forward to seeing him close out the Billboard Hot 100 Festival at Jones Beach this past weekend, I was, at the very least, mildly curious. And I had no idea that I was actually in for a milestone performance, as it was his first live show in over 2 years. He took a hiatus from giving concerts to party and collect some DUIs, I guess.
The original plan was to stay for maybe 2 of 3 of his songs, then leave early and beat the rush back to the Long Island Rail Road. But I will admit – after a few minutes I leaned over to my friends and said, “I’m actually really enjoying this…!?!?” They were too.
While I wasn’t one of the squealing voices that nearly drowned out his singing, I was highly amused by Bieber’s performance. He’s an amazing dancer, something I knew in the back of my head but hadn’t ever actually seen before, and his show was a spectacle on the level of any respectable pop concert. And I went to 3 *NSYNC concerts back in the day, so I know a good pop show when I see one.
After his initial few songs, though, the Biebs started to confuse me. He paraded around on stage in his baseball cap and hoodie (which he later ditched in favor of just a t-shirt, and then ditched that in favor of no shirt at all), with this faux bad boy swaggery attitude which I couldn’t help but think was completely disingenuous despite the fact that he clearly is an actual arrogant ass. But come on, remember when he looked like this?
“Did you miss me?” he asked the audience. *lots of high-pitched shrieking*
“When’s my new music coming out? Is it 5 days?” *lots of high-pitched shrieking that I think meant “no”*
“Is it 4 days?” *more shrieking* At this point I was too busy rolling my eyes to continue paying attention and I still have no idea when his new music is coming out.
As the show went on, I couldn’t help but feel almost bad for the guy. His team has probably orchestrated his every move for the last 5+ years (minus the DUI, I imagine) and probably even his chitchat in between songs was scripted. The only time that I’m confident he wasn’t acting under orders was when he kept insisting that more and more lights be turned off so he could see the audience, and when he blatantly told the front few rows to stop taking photos and enjoy the show (props to the Biebs on that one).
Justin ended up slowing down his show, sitting on a stool with just a guitarist to accompany him while he sang some boring ballads, and during the 3rd such snoozer we decided to leave. It was 35 minutes into his 40 minute set, so the only part we really missed was his inevitable closing collabo with Skrillex to do their song, “Where Are U Now.” Skrillex had delivered an A+ high energy set right before Bieber came on, so I had gotten my fill of Skrillex (my Skrill fill, if you will – ba dum CHING) earlier in the night and wasn’t sad to miss him coming back out on stage.
I also was not sad to miss the part where the Biebs took his shirt off, though we did catch it on the monitors on our way out. Here’s what it looked like, in case I have any tweenage readers.
24 hours later and I’m still not entirely sure what I thought of my first – and possibly/hopefully only – Justin Bieber experience. He’s arrogant yet supremely talented, and while his show was no more over-produced than any other pop show, something about it just felt even more artificial than normal. Once the novelty of the first flashy 10 minutes wore off, I was sort of horrified by the whole thing,
Let’s all just keep one thing in mind, though:
Usher, this is your fault.
Not that you could ever stay mad at that face. Usher, stop being so charming.