The Music in the Zoo series found a new audience Sunday – pre-tweens, tweens and teens. In other words, the crowd that comes to see the Minnesota Zoo in the daytime.
The evening attraction was Top 40 hitmakers Carly Rae Jepsen and the Wanted, the first zoo concert aimed at the youth market. Despite tickets costing $60, the place was packed with young girls and their parents. And there was plenty of screaming –especially for the Wanted.
In fact, this was one of those occasions in which the opening act stole the show. It was hard to resist this Brit-Irish boy band, whose five members were friendly, funny (especially Jay), accessible, spontaneous, cute, in a good voice and, most importantly, genuinely having fun. Never mind that their bubblegum tunes are fairly generic except for the new single “We Own the Night” with its Mumford-y chorus and the medley of songs by the Killers, which was a nice energetic filler.
These guys reached out to the girls – sometimes literally – and had them swooning, screaming and OMG-ing. You don’t get this kind of intimacy in an arena with One Direction (or the Jonas Brothers or New Kids or insert boy band name here). And, for “Heart Vacancy,” six girls from the audience got to go onstage and hold hands with a member of the Wanted, who also hugged them and sang to them. Never mind that these guys (save one) are 23 to 25 – four or five years older than the 1D heartthrobs.
The Wanted ended their 58-minute set with their biggest hit, 2011’s “Glad You Come,” complete with silly string that they sprayed at each other and the audience.
When Jepsen hit the stage after intermission, it was almost like someone let the air out of the balloon. The energy and volume from the crowd dropped by more than half. And for good reason: Jepsen was not that good.
Who doesn’t love her “Call Me Maybe,” a classic pop ditty that was the best single of 2012. But first we had to put up with 50 minutes of bouncy radio-friendly pop featuring her thin, squeaky, girlish voice.
She looked, acted and sounded like she was 15. But she’s 27. Yikes! Never has someone tried so hard to reach down to the Hot Topic crowd. It didn’t work, though shooting streamers and bringing three birthday girls onstage to sing “Call Me Maybe” were cool touches.