NEW YORK — The sounds of thunder and early-evening traffic were easily drowned out by the squeals of hundreds of fans gathered outside the Apple Store downtown on Tuesday. They were all eagerly waiting to see a free performance by the Jonas Brothers, whose third album (and second with Disney's Hollywood Records), A Little Bit Longer, was released the same day.Many fans had been waiting on the sidewalk for a long time. Julie Forkell and daughters Brooke, Hannah and Abby drove in from Philadelphia and were in line since Monday. "I've never done anything like this before," said 11-year-old Hannah. "It's actually been really fun. We've been listening to our iPods, and I slept for a lot of the time. We've been just keeping each other busy." Nine-year-old Abby was a little less patient. "It seems like [time] goes by so slow, because I'm so excited!"
Mom Julie said she used the experience to bond with her children. "I really like spending time with my kids. They're really good girls, and the Jonas Brothers are just awesome. They're darlings." And, as Julie pointed out, they're very photogenic. "They make extremely wonderful wallpaper. As in, 'Let's cover up our freshly painted blue bedroom with about 10,000 magazine pictures of Nick and the gang!' "
About an hour before the performance was scheduled to start, the skies over Manhattan opened up, and a hard rain poured down on the fans for a solid 10 minutes. Twenty-two-year-old Ginno Murphy, wearing a garbage bag to keep dry, thought it was all worthwhile. "It's kind of cool to be a part of it. It's good to see people so excited about a band."
Shortly before 8 p.m., the doors to the Apple Store were opened wide and fans were allowed in, one small group at a time. More than 500 audience members took their places on the second floor of the store — a lucky few were able to score seats directly in front of the stage, and the rest had to stand, corralled by the store's employees.
When Nick, Joe and Kevin finally appeared, the place went wild. There was plenty of screaming and also a bit of crying. The brothers hit the stage along with their backup musicians, and after a brief thank-you to the fans from Joe, they launched into "That's Just the Way We Roll" from their self-titled second album. About an hour's worth of pop-rock music followed, including songs from all three JB albums.
During the opening bars of "Year 3000," the band started to jump up and down in unison, and the fans did the same. The entire floor shook, and for a brief moment, this reporter thought the whole thing would come crashing down onto the first level below.
Things calmed down a bit when Nick, usually seen strapped to his guitar, sat down at a piano to sing the title track from A Little Bit Longer, about what he experienced when he was first diagnosed with diabetes. "I want you to sing this with me as loud as you can," Nick told the audience mid-song. Of course, they obliged.
The performance ended with a lively rendition of "Burnin' Up," the first single from the new album. Then the brothers left, with the audience filing out shortly after.
"It was awesome," 19-year-old Christine Soto said of the performance. Her best friend Lauren Kwong added: "It was worth the 12-hour wait!"
Fans who were unable to attend the event can download the performance on iTunes, but they'll have to hold out for a while: It won't be available until the holidays.