Monday, August 6, 2012


It’s summer time and the young girls need something to make them SCREAM. What do we have? Well, Justin Bieber doesn’t come around till fall, the One Direction show is still (bizarrely) a year away, and the Jonas Brothers … wait, who are they again? Enter Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush.

The foursome, which popped into the First Niagara Pavilion Sunday night, hasn’t generated quite the same shockwave of hysteria from sea to shining sea. Radio is in no rush to play this next fab four, so the singles haven’t reached anywhere near the Top 20. Knock them, though, and you’ll get an earful from the fans known as Rushers, who numbered 13,000 Sunday night (minus the chaperones).

The group was created in 2009 for the Monkees-style Nick sitcom “Big Time Rush” about four high school hockey players turned boy band who leave Minnesota for the bright lights of Hollywood. The real-life group got an early assist from Snoop Dogg (the man who can’t say no) and set out on tours of, believe it or not, high schools.

Two albums in, Big Time Rush is playing amphitheaters with hopes of meeting the standard set by New Kids on the Block, ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys, et al. Big Time Rush has a hard act to follow — and it’s just getting started — so let’s just say the group did the job of thoroughly thrilling its Rushers on Sunday night with pounding bubblegum pop, timeworn boy-band choreography and a flashy stage production.

BTR arrived with the pulsing dance-pop title track to its recent album “Elevate,” busting its moves in front of a virtually hidden four-piece band, and moved on to other serviceable pop songs like “Time of Our Life,” “Love Me Love Me” and “If I Ruled the World.” Yes, the titles are a bit eye-rolling.

There’s no straight-up leader but Kendall Schmidt and Logan Henderson seemed to draw the most freak-out moments and screams of “I love you!” They kept it lively with flash pots, confetti, streamers, glowsticks, wardrobe changes, streaming crowd video and a trampoline for that extra hop.

The biggest thrill, besides maybe the hat dance on “Boyfriend,” was the BTR boys risking their lives by running up into the pavilion balcony for “Halfway There.” I mean, they ARE hockey players, right? They slowed the pace with an acoustic session on “Covergirl” and then “Worldwide,” showing off their winning harmonies, with help from four rather shy Rushers.

One big-time misstep were the completely lame covers of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Help!” by The Beatles, a band we can only hope they are not trying to evoke. However, they should work on a Rush cover, just for the heck of it.

The big-time rush to climax the set with “Windows Down,” which borrows the riff and “woohoos!” from Blur. Hard to go too wrong with that. They didn’t leave without doing the catchy “Til I Forget About You,” one of the happier breakup songs you’re likely to hear. All in all, it may not have been grade-A boy-band stuff, but if I said it wasn’t entertaining, that would be a lie.

Rachel Crow opened with a quick karaoke-style set, then 15-year-old Cody Simpson, the Australian Justin Bieber in training, wowed the girls with his own moves and sugary dance-pop songs, especially the super catchy “iYiYi,” which could work as the vowel-heavy counterpart to “mmmbop.”

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