SAN FRANCISCO Hundreds of enthusiastic teenagers, and some of their parents, watched Australian pop duo Savage Garden tape a concert Thursday for the Disney Channel's series "Two Hour Tour."
"I am so stoked to be here, in this theater right now, I can't even ... just can't even tell you," Jessica Cordone, 14, of Sausalito said, as she kept one eye on the parade of her peers in the lobby. "I think these guys are the perfect mesh of sensitive and tough, you know? Their sound is tough, but the lyrics are really poetic."
The private show at the Fillmore a warmup for dates in Japan and Australia was packed with fans who'd won tickets from a local radio station.
The audience was heavily skewed to the younger end of the population most hadn't even been born when this venerable theater reopened in the early '80s and plenty of indulgent parents shepherded their charges around the floor. Kids mingled and gawked, in awe of the huge camera cranes and the impressive old ballroom itself.
Roused by a master of ceremonies, the crowd was chanting in unison and waving homemade signs above their heads by the time Savage Garden took the stage. The band's loud, poppy, synth-guitar sound was nearly overwhelmed by the shrieks of the audience.
Swaying, Singing, Necking
"Thank you!" cried lead singer Darren Hayes after the first song, "Crash and Burn." "And thank God for television, 'cause you know we're actually gonna do that one again later!"
"I Knew I Loved You" was next, a swoony, harmonized bubble-gum anthem about true love. The crowd swayed together and sang along, and a few couples began necking toward the end.
The duo of Hayes on vocals and Daniel Jones on guitar was complemented by another guitarist, a keyboard player, bassist, drummer and two scantily clad backup singers, none of whom were introduced during the 40-minute set. The band created a lush, full sound, perfectly re-creating its radio hits.
Hayes introduced one song by saying, "This next song is about ... well, it's about standing on a mountain. It's about..." But the crowd was already miles ahead of him, screaming, "Truly...! Madly...! Deeply...!"
"Yes, that's it!" shouted Hayes, as they tore into "Truly, Madly, Deeply" (RealAudio Excerpt), the breakthrough hit from Savage Garden's eponymous 1997 debut album.
'Just Wild To Be Here'
"It's so great to be here, seeing you all. We're boarding a plane tomorrow to start a tour in Japan, and...," Hayes began, but whatever he said next was drowned out in a fresh wave of shrieks, for he'd made the mistake of taking off his jacket during that sentence, revealing a sweaty, tight shirt.
The band seemed to be having a ball, playing to the omnipresent cameras and enjoying the pure adoration of the crowd. The kids knew every song and every lyric, and their parents stood or sat against the walls, nodding happily.
"It's just wild to be here," said Emily Van Dervinne, 42, of Fremont, laughing. "I'm here tonight with my two daughters, and this is the first big show they've been to. I've certainly been at the Fillmore before, but not quite like this."
The cameras swooped and climbed above the crowd, carefully navigating the antique chandeliers overhead. The band and the crowd shamelessly played to the crews, obliging with renewed screams or a camera-ready pose whenever necessary.
After the band closed its set with the bubbly, danceable title track off its 1999 release, Affirmation, Hayes entreated the crowd to stick around, because they would come back out and play two of the set's songs again, for the cameras.
"It'll be like we're starting all over!" he cried, his arms held high over the sea of upraised hands in front of him. "We're gonna do a few songs again, but it'll be really fun, I promise!"
Almost everyone stuck around for the "encore," cheering just as wildly the second time.
Openers' Big Shot
"Two Hour Tour" is appropriately Disney: orchestrated, but still sweet. An established band films a documentary-style report around a concert, selecting an unknown local act as its opener. The "undiscovered" talent gets a taste of the high life plus a chance to play for a large crowd, and most important, gets to be on TV.
It was literally 15 minutes of pseudo-fame for two local girls, introduced only as Kelly and Camille, ages 14 and 15. After a crowd-rousing introduction by the master of ceremonies, the girls jogged onto the stage and struck their poses, wearing matching black tops and snakeskin skirts. Smiling fiercely, they tried not to squint in the bright lights as they stood anxiously in place, waiting for their taped music to start.
Their coordinated dance moves and simple, sweet lyrics about having a big crush ("Orange Rush") and wanting to go out and have some fun ("Friday Night"), ended up being presented by surprisingly mature voices. They drew the attention and praise of the antsy crowd, belting and chirping with strong harmonies and lots of cries of "All right! Yeah!"
This was their big shot, and they were making the most of it.