In the 90 minutes before Justin Bieber appears, the show's creators work the audience as expertly as they will manipulate the hydraulics that lift the singer high into the air later in the evening. As I watch vendors selling cotton candy, I can't help thinking that giving bags of spun sugar to the 10,000 over-stimulated little girls surrounding me is a bit excessive.
A blond Australian teenager, Cody Simpson, comes onstage around 7 and performs "Ay Na Na." With its nonsensical chorus about love at first sight, it brings to mind Shaun Cassidy's "Da Doo Ron Ron." (Full disclosure: I'm 45.) Cody removes his jacket, and the screams rise like sirens. As my 12-year-old later remarks, "He's not very talented, but he's cute."
Next is Carly Rae Jepsen. If you lived through last summer without hearing "Call Me Maybe" at least five times a day, I am willing to bet you don't have a middle-school girl living in your home. Or perhaps you were on a cloistered retreat on the Isle of Skye.
But as "hawt" (description not mine) as Cody is or as unrelentlessly bubbly as is Ms. Jepsen (description mine), this audience has not gathered here for either one of them. It's for him. Him. The one whose face is emblazoned on their t-shirts and tote bags. The one whose initials are written in face paint on their cheeks. The one whose surname appears on a multitude of tweens' and teens' Twitter and Instagram feeds. "Mrs. Bieber," they call themselves. Or "mrsbieber_3921" or "belieber760." Many will tell you: They worship him.
At ten minutes before the show, a digital timer appears on an enormous screen above the stage. At 60-second intervals, the girls' screams grow louder. Nine minutes. Six. Four.
I love spectacle: parades, fireworks, and weddings awake joy ...1
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