There was an unusually sugary sweet feel in the Virginia air last night, I mean, so much that it made your teeth kinda hurt.

Reason? Teen pop idols Miranda Cosgrove (that’s iCarly for those not hip to the Nicklodeon TV star) and fellow cutie pie Greyson Chance spent this summer night bouncing around the legendary Wolf Trap stage, and man, did they have their sweet little wide eyed mindblown fans excited for their sugary pop offerings. Such sweet innocent unabashed smiles, from both crowd and performers. Such exhilarating squeals of delight and unconditional adoration from their little fans, many giving it up for the first time. And for her first time, my 9 year old Kelly Lynn seemed legitimately smitten by the presence of a member of the opposite sex, the teen idol of the moment, Mr. Chance. Yes, it was sweetness to the Nth degree. 

Kelly at our dinner spot on the meadow.

And I survived, braving the inevitable onslaught of sugar syrupy dripping teen pop star love, willingly along for the ride, leaving behind my rock and roll stew for some, yes, pop tarts. And mainly because it meant a date with just my youngest daughter, a rarity to be sure in this day of no time for anything. We got a sack of carry-out Chipotle, some cold beverages hard and soft, and snagged a familiar picnic table overlooking the beautiful meadow that sits adjacent to the amphitheater, pretty much exactly the same spot Mimi and I grab for our pre-show dinners there.  We dined on massive head-sized burritos & cheesy enchiladas, yummy guacamole and chips, soon becoming gorged on our main course, with only the sugary sweet dessert of Kelly’s teen pop idols to follow.

Kelly before the thundering Green Day onslaught, summer 2010.

Truth is, this was really Kelly’s first concert that she could enjoy most of. Her first actual concert was when Ben and I took her to see Green Day last summer (oops) in the 20th row (see above pic before the sky fell), and maybe twenty minutes into their deafeningly loud set replete with F-bombs and unexpected explosions, Kelly’s look of horror told me, “Hey Daddy, we either make another plan here, or call it a night and you get me the hell out of here.” Luckily, we climbed to the top of the lawn where the sound was lighter, the explosions muted, and as the evening sky buffeted the strains of Basket Case and American Idiot, we found a family with similar kid fears way up on the back of the lawn and Kelly finally was able to enjoy herself with her new friend, dancing on the back hill while Daddy and Ben rocked out to Billie Joe and Co.

Adoring crowd awaits Miranda.

But this night was different. No explosions. Surely no F-Bombs. Their fans probably average 10 years old, so no, that wouldn’t fly. Here were a couple of manufactured pop stars, sold via TV to this vulnerable and adoring demo, along with all the merchandising and product placement you can imagine, and you know what? They put on a pretty darn entertaining two hours of music, and heck if I didn’t have too many holes in my teeth from all the candy pop star love.

The Chance faithful cheer on Greyson's surprisingly solid warm up set.

The newest teen idol boy Greyson Chance went on first, and Kelly seemed legitimately awed, like, “Wow, there he is, this image from TV right there on stage, in front of me, SINGING!!!”  Chance’s song’s lyrics were standard fare, but the kid’s voice? Whoaah. Yes, the grizzled concert vet that I am was impressed by the range, the notes he hit, the finesse, this kid smelled like success, if he can just find the right niche to fit into as he gets older. He even rolled a solo piano version of Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi, which further impressed. Yes, screams abound for this teenybopper kid with a 1% chance of making it past this tour, but I give him better odds given his pipes. He confided in the crowd that his big break was when Ellen (Degeneres) saw his You Tube video and that started it all. Lucky little SOB, wow.

Earth to Kelly...mesmerized by teen idol Grayson Chance.

But Kelly’s face while watching him…that was worth the whole effort of coming, she sitting there smittenly mesmerized, well, as best as she could be with the distraction level at a fever pitch with all the “I love you Greyson/Miranda!” signs, the screaming and the gyrating, jumping little bodies. But when she realized HE was right up there, she was locked in. So cool. Just like a little blonde boy felt 35 years ago when concerts started becoming a major part of his life. I could see her really digging it, the “live show”, and oh, what a thrill that was. It wasn’t TV!!! It was that thrillingly amazing feeling of seeing a live concert. And there was my girl, feeling it.

Before she entered to a true cacophony of screams and squeals, Miranda Cosgrove rolled a five minute video stating her “dreams and aspirations with her life and her music”, which could have been perceived as pretty self-serving and unnecessary, but hey, Steve, shut up, you ain’t the demo, she’s telling her real feelings to her little girl fans, so leave her alone! OK, OK, fine, now back off.  Then, bounding on stage in her cons and tights and jean-type jacket, this TV star turned pop star turned TV & pop & online star was right there, in the flesh, no more just on the TV, and her fans, including Kelly, were ecstatic.

Just before one of today's biggest teen idols took the stage.

As her set went on, she proved assuredly that she has a rabid following, and yes, more importantly, a pretty good possibility of making it as a real singer, with some work, that is. Her image to date is all studio manipulated and delivered, but this is live music and it’s time to step up, and she’s trying. Her vocals were pretty much buried a good amount of the time, but I’m not sure that’s totally by accident. Hers is a voice that’s not really established yet in a live concert setting so her band is really the support system to take away the negatives. The studio can make anyone sound good so this is a real test. As I understand it, this is her first real “tour” persay and so she has a lot to learn about projection and singing live while also enduring the “rigors” of a bus tour. She tended to care more about her body movements than her singing at times which is very common I would think.

Miranda belts it out for her little peeps.

One huge plus: the band she has is excellent. Evidently (and I learned this in the opening video, so yes, I WAS listening!) they were together before she hired them as her band so they definitely had a chemistry. They really carry the show and Miranda on their shoulders. Their redheaded vocalist was stunning (and not looking 16 yrs old like Miranda so I felt OK about thinking that) and an excellent vocalist, she inevitably carried Miranda a lot, but hey, that’s the plan. Buoy her along, give her good advice, and she will hopefully come into her own. I will say their version of No Doubt’s Just A Girl was very good, a great duet on the main vocals, and a shining moment for both women…uh girls….uh, one woman and girl….oh forget it.

Miranda rolled sugary hit after sugary hit, mostly about first kisses, first big steps in life, and feeling all fuzzy inside from first runs at love, with the most edgy roll being a song co-written by the great Rivers Cuomo from Weezer, called High Maintenance. Hey, not a bad thing to teach little girls from the beginning to hold on loosely, right? Ha. Shut my mouth.

All in all, it was a fun show and perfect for the peeps, the little 2-14 demo. It wasn’t in my musical genre but so what. I tried not to judge the whole scene and just went with it. Really sweet, all the little girls dancing and screaming, a bit Beatlemania-esque at times. The kids loved it. So did we. Even danced a little myself! Probably wasn’t a pretty site, seeing that. Hey, I may sing for a band, but this was out of even my comfort zone, so mostly I just sat back and smiled watching the adulation for these teens bubble and simmer and boil over. And as for seeing Kelly enjoy her first happy concert experience, an experience her Dad has made part of his heart and soul his whole life? Just incredibly special.
Would I go see Miranda and Greyson live again? If Kelly wanted to, damn straight, sign me up for the piercing screams and frenetic dancing any day. If it means being on a date with my baby girl, you bet. I can always come home and crank up the Brothers later.

Greyson Chance and Miranda Cosgrove; check these guys out at the links below.

Check out Miranda Cosgrove here.
Check out Greyson Chance here.

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