Remember When the Jonas Brothers Did an Awkward High School Tour in 2006?
The year was not 3000 but rather 2006. I was a junior at Freehold Township High School in New Jersey and, just like any other time our studies had been interrupted for a cheesy drug awareness assembly or mandatory gathering to discuss school news (usually sports related, ugh), I was ecstatic to be sitting in the auditorium for some last-minute event in the middle of the school day. Even better, my friends were sitting right next to me. Oh, and the Jonas Brothers were there, too.
In later years, I wondered if my memory was the result of some bizarre high school fever dream (those years are a traumatic blur now), but no: In 2006, the actual real-life Jonas Brothers really did come to my unsuspecting high school for an impromptu concert in the suburbs. This was right before the JoBros had "blown up," thanks in part to their highly lucrative Disney Channel affiliation. At the time, none of us (save for a student or two who personally knew the boys, who hail from Wyckoff, New Jersey) knew who they were. Onstage, they became an immediate target for my classmates' lethal brand of teenage ridicule.
Nick's hair was a curly mop back then; Joe's a spiky, over-gelled cone; Kevin's a shaggy coif — very mid-2000s PacSun. I don't remember what they performed aside from a song called "Mandy," but I do remember the snickers and boos in the auditorium. In the hallways for the rest of the day, my peers, in that awful, terrible, predictable high school way, relentlessly mocked the enthusiastic trio and their brand of radio-friendly faux pop-punk/pop-rock bubblegum. And fair enough — it was a little goofy and much too sincere for us jaded post-millennium teens. (There were, however, more than a few swoons at youngest member Nick, whose sweet falsetto was, even at the crest of his brothers' obscurity, memorably impressive.)
The free little promotional posters and It's About Time demo CDs that the trio and their parents (chaperoning them on tour at the time) brought with them to distribute around the school certainly did end up around the school... albeit on the floor and in the trash cans. High school can be so cruel.
I, however, being the insufferable and enterprising little angel that I was at age 16, decided not to shun our guests but rather took the opportunity to say hello to young Nick, then 14, Joe, then 17, and Kevin, then 19, backstage in the drama room after their performance. To their delight and their parents' pride, I even asked for an autograph. (No, I don't know where it is after all these years, and yes, I'm still kicking myself to this day for losing it.)
In the aftermath of the Jonas Brothers' massive career success and, now, much-discussed reunion, I've been thinking about my awkward experience of seeing the JoBros perform at my high school, just months before they and their music were all over the radio and TV. Apparently, I'm not the only one.
As fellow former FTHS student Megan Brophy recalls, "I just remember wanting their autograph and no one would go up with me. I was embarrassed to go up there alone and I remember having a crush on the drummer [Nick Jonas]. I went home and listened to their CD a bunch of times, it had five songs. I loved 'I Am What I Am.'"
On Reddit, a user recently reminisced about their own experience seeing them perform at their middle school. "Pretty much everyone was confused and saying to one another who the hell are these guys and why are they here? They were virtually unknown at this point," they wrote. "I honestly still don't understand all the details of why they showed up to my [school] in the middle of the day lmao."
Like a pop music mandala effect, every few years on Twitter a handful of users tweet about their own surreal Did That Really Happen? memory of seeing the Jonas Brothers rock out in their school auditorium. And strangely, there are, aside from firsthand accounts like my own, scarce details about that promotional tour and its precise dates. (Don't bother looking for photos: We had low-resolution flip phones back then, and they were probably stored in our lockers at the time anyway.)
While it's cool in retrospect that I got to witness one of the 2000s' biggest boy bands perform in a somewhat intimate and certainly unexpected setting before their mainstream explosion, a word to the wise: Don't boo that dorky boy band, they just might become pop's next heartthrobs. (Also, always get an autograph, kids! It just might sell for a few hundred dollars on eBay a few months later... if you don't end up misplacing it in your locker first.)