ZAC CRAIN / Posted Jun 08, 2009 11:00 AM
Pyro! Dance Parties! A look inside the trio’s rehearsals for their biggest show yet.
The Jonas Brothers have been at the American Airlines Center in Dallas for almost two weeks, rehearsing for a tour that begins just down the road (and just about half an hour from their North Texas home) on June 20th at the brand new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. No one was supposed to know this. But since it’s the Jonas Brothers, obviously, word has gotten out.
So outside, not far from a car covered in shoe-polish devotion to the trio, two girls lean over the railing to the tunnel entrance of the loading dock, woo-hooing every visitor, yelling out messages to be relayed to Kevin, Joe and Nick. “Tell the boys we say hi and we love them,” they shout to keyboard player Ryan Liestman, who looks like a cross between young and old Axl Rose and never breaks stride.
They’ll get a chance to be closer soon enough. “We wanted a great way for everyone to have a front-row seat,” Kevin says, referring to the band’s new in-the-round stage setup, which almost travels from one end of the arena to the other. “In the audience, you only are 30 to 90 feet away from us at any point.”
Inside, it feels more like the last day of school, since all the gear will be packed up and shipped out tonight. Joe pilots a Segway in lazy circles. The crew fight it out on a ping-pong table, occasionally joined by Nick. There are baseball gloves and bikes scattered. On the floor of the arena, near the stage, the band has dragged out a trampoline and the tumbling mat used by Dallas Mavericks mascot Mavs Man for dunking exhibitions during timeouts. Joe spends a few minutes good-naturedly trying to double-bounce the band’s stylist off of it.
All of that, though, belies the work that gone on at the AAC up until now. Even though their last tour was shot in 3-D and released as a feature film, the new production is much more ambitious (so much so it requires 19 trucks to haul it around — twice as many as last time).
The stage is a tiered in-the-round setup joined to two smaller satellite performance areas by catwalks on either end. Hanging over the entire thing is an LED screen that looks like an upside-down weeding cake produced by Skynet after the fall of humanity. That doesn’t even take into account the 350 lighting units and the never-before-used water feature that’s coming on the road, too.
“Putting this show together is so much different than anything we’ve ever done before,” Nick says. “You really have to think about all the ground you have to cover. We tried to add some musicians, some horn players and some string players, just to fill in the space, and fill in the sound as well.”
The additions of a four-piece horn section went further than just filling in space, the brothers say; it began changing the sound, something that had already started to happen during the recording of Lines, Vines and Trying Times (out June 16th). With new influences and inspirations like Neil Diamond and the Zutons — known here more for an iPod commercial than anything else — taking root. Some of that new sound can be heard on “Much Better,” which everyone involved, from brothers to crew members, points to as a highlight of the new production.
“It’s like a dance party onstage,” Joe says. I think everybody will be able to see that once they come to see the show.”
Other than that, the band and their crew are staying pretty close-mouthed about what will happen, referring to “gags” and “reveals” throughout the show, but declining to explain in much detail. (One spoiler: expect pyrotechnics on new song “Fly With Me.”)
“We really tried to step it up this time,” Kevin says. “You might have to come more than once to see it all because you might not catch it all.”
We know of at least two girls who probably will.
Source: Rolling Stone