"It's bedlam, right?!"
That's how a security guard described the scene in Asbury Park, New Jersey on Sunday night (August 25), and it was the understatement of the century. Thousands of fans — a city official told me he estimated around 9,000 — were there to see Jonas Brothers film their remote VMA performance, which marked their first time appearing on the awards show as a band in 11 years.
By now, you've seen the performance on TV, but what you didn't see was how that aforementioned "bedlam" played out off-screen. Fans began congregating on the windy waterfront as early as 10 a.m., getting as close to the outdoor stage as they could. For some, that meant posting up on the balconies of nearby two-story bars, and for others, that meant claiming spots on the beach, which was too far away to see much, but close enough to at least hear the action. And for the lucky ones who got to fill the boardwalk in front of the stage, they broke out into spontaneous sing-alongs of JB hits like "Burnin' Up" and danced along to the pre-show soundtrack, which included VMA-nominated hits like "Truth Hurts," "bad guy," and "Señorita."
Excitement hit a fever pitch as the sun set over The Stone Pony, the iconic Asbury Park club where local legends like Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi launched their careers. That was where the JoBros' performance kicked off — while Joe's wife, Sophie Turner, danced along near the back of the venue, the brothers ran through a verse and a chorus of "Sucker" before crossing Ocean Avenue, jumping onto the main stage, and dancing through their current single, "Only Human." A large backing band supplied extra doses of funk, disco balls glittered above their heads, and the whole thing ended with a fireworks display over the beach.
"It feels good to be home!" Joe told the screaming crowd while wearing an all-denim outfit that, fittingly, recalled a young Springsteen.
The guys did two takes of that whole setup, and then stuck around for a mini-concert that, as the stage manager, Lynn, told everyone, "literally no one else will get to see." They launched into "Cool," followed it up with the dreamy Happiness Begins cut "I Believe," then finished with a full version of "Sucker" that got the crowd going all over again.
"We'll see you on TV tomorrow!" the band — who is nominated for four VMAs this year — said before waving goodbye. The best part? All those thousands of fans in Asbury would get to relive that rare experience just one night later, along with the rest of the world. Only this time, their ears would still be ringing from those fireworks and they'd get to bop along to "Only Human" from the comfort of their homes… dancing in the living room, drunk to an '80s groove. They're only human, after all.