Over Memorial Day weekend, I got really sick. I mean FEVER sick. I’d seen a tweet floating around in cyberspace about some contest related to the Jonas Brothers’ world premiere of their documentary. My heart said, “Make a video,” but my rising temperature and exhaustion said, “Stay in bed and finish Supernatural.” Less than 24 hours later, I followed my heart, set up a tripod in my bedroom and recorded a video.
It was the first time I’d told anyone this particular story, a story related to my recent mental health struggles, scrambling to find myself again, and straining to find creativity again. There is one particular Jonas Brothers song that I listened to at the right time, in the right place, that really helped bring me out of that dark place.
My video was genuine; I sincerely could not tell the story without shedding tears. I did it in one take, knowing that if I kept trying to record a version without crying, I’d just get tired, frustrated, and end up with no submission. I also feel terribly uncomfortable speaking in front of a camera this way, which is why I don't vlog! Even my travel videos don't feature me talking to the camera.
I submitted my video within the deadline, but did not hear back that night as some of the other fans did. I shrugged it off and accepted that it was not meant to be.
However, the next day, I got a direct message from Amazon Prime Video, and shortly after, an email with details.
I also decided to paint a jean jacket to wear to the event. I've been doing this more and more, because I enjoy wearing them and they're almost like a commemorative thing for me. I decided to reference the song I mentioned in my video, Hold On, plus the title of the documentary, Chasing Happiness.
I’ve been a fan of the Jonas Brothers for 11 years, and I must confess: Previously, I’d been one of those people dismissing them as a “boy band.” I was deeply in my emo phase at the time, circa 2008, but it wasn’t until I gave them a fair listen and saw them live that I realized they were a legitimately talented, entertaining band with so much to offer. I never expected myself to be into a band that was affiliated with the Disney Channel.
On Monday, June 3, my long-time friend and fellow Jonas Brothers fan Caitlin made our way up to Westwood. After finding parking and having some lunch, we approached the will call line and eagerly awaited the adventure before us.
Amazon did not release too many details in the email, so we honestly didn’t know what to expect. We were given two wristbands and physical tickets to the screening, with assigned seating. After acquiring what felt like our golden ticket, we were directed to the “fan activation” area.
We passed under the “Chasing Happiness Premiere” arch and into a Jonas Brothers fan’s dream.
Hedges surrounded a transformed, astro turf-laiden area full of rustic picnic tables, twinkle lights, and Jonas-themed interactive areas. To our immediate left was an actual tour bus, paying homage to a past tour where fans were invited to sign the bus. A plethora of markers and pens were provided so we could all live those days again. Message after message thanked the Jonas Brothers, expressed so much positivity, and many referenced the number of years they had been a fan.
We wrote our messages and then made our way onto the bus itself. Needless to say, I am now 100% secure in my decision not to become a tour manager!
Next, we got in line for our customized hoodie, part of the new pastel merch accompanying the Happiness Begins era. The line moved slowly, as Amazon staff members were screen printing each item individually. Guests could choose between four design options, making a more personalized experience versus a completely generic one. While we were in line, we were greeted by staff with trays, offering us four different kinds of lemonade and other drinks. We were being waited on, and it became obvious to me that Amazon was treating the fans as special guests.
Hoodies in hand, we walked toward the back of the area where we found restrooms and took a peek at the stage with no one in front of it. We were under the impression that the performance that night would be a small, acoustic one, but we were wrong!
We continued our round, onto a photobooth of sorts – a Jonas Brothers-themed set was in place, and the legendary Rob Hoffman was there to take photos. We absolutely could not pass up an opportunity to be in front of a photographer whose clientele list includes Beyonce. Rob Hoffman is also a name familiar to many Jonas Brothers fans – he has provided so many incredible snaps over the years. We were able to pick up a high quality print at the end of the night! It was a lovely gift a la Amazon.
The activation zone had opened around 4PM, and by 6:30PM, staff were encouraging guests to exit to be escorted to the carpet. Unsure of what would ensue, we followed directions and moved out of the frying pan and into the fire.
We got to walk on the actual carpet, since the other fans had gotten there earlier and already had spots behind the barricades lining the carpet. We were escorted all the way down to the end; my heart sank a little, as I thought we had missed the chance to be on the sidelines. To my surprise, we were ushered into a spot at the end of the carpet, right in front of the theater entrance.
Severely behind schedule, the carpet was finally coming alive – guests were arriving, camera flashes were lighting up the black carpet like fireworks, and the energy was palpable. The reality was hitting us all – the actual Jonas Brothers would be arriving soon!
Eventually, a slew of recognizable faces passed our section and entered into the theater – Priyanka Chopra, Danielle Jonas, Sophie Turner. It was a parade of grace and exquisite taste, delicate high-heeled shoes and sequins galore. Not long after, the black carpet erupted in a Sucker singalong, and the sound of screams let us know that the boys weren’t far.
The Jonas Brothers, despite being late, were gracious enough to do their best to greet as many fans as possible. Since my first time seeing and meeting them in 2008, I’ve known that they genuinely appreciate their fans and always try their best to meet them.
I could feel my heart rate rising, the volume around me increasing, and before I knew it, they were in front of me! I’m lucky enough to have gotten photos with two of them. It was such a surreal moment. Yes, I’ve met them before, but I don’t think I’d been able to process their recent reunion until this particular moment.
After the chaos passed, we were directed to the theater to find our assigned seats. Complimentary popcorn and drinks were available at the concession stand, and there were pre-packaged candy gifts at each of our seats. Amazon really knows how to spoil guests!
The Jonas Brothers and their families sat toward the middle of the theater, the lights dimmed, and the presentation began.
I have to admit, I was mildly horrified to see myself up on the screen – they used our video entries as part of an intro to the documentary. The good news is that they didn’t use the parts where I was actually crying, though they did insert the clip of me saying, “Sorry, I wasn’t planning on crying on the internet.” Appropriate.
We watched the documentary, shed a lot of tears, sang along, and belly laughed. One of the highlights was not even the documentary itself, but being able to watch it in a room of Jonas fans! I could hear everyone aww-ing and singing along to some of the older songs. There was a real level of transparency achieved in the film, and a freedom we haven’t seen with the Jonas Brothers – freedom to be themselves, freedom to be honest and not conform to an image dictated to them. It’s completely refreshing to see them outside of the tyranny of Disney, and also to see them find themselves as individuals.
As if these experiences weren’t enough, we walked out of the theater after the screening ended, and went back to the fan activation zone, securing a spot for the live performance.
We were lucky enough to get a pretty good spot! I was enthralled to be there and meet up with two other friends who had been at the event.
It’s incredibly difficult to articulate the experience that came next – the iconic first notes of Burnin’ Up blared from the speakers like the most unbelievable, surreal dream. This was really happening. The Brothers appeared on the stage and the crowd erupted into a frenzy. Because of the delayed schedule, the set was cut short, but it was so special. The energy was electrifying, and there was a happy excitement permeating all in attendance.
There are few words I can use to describe how epic of an experience I had. From the Jonas-themed interactive experiences to the freebies to the electrifying performance, the entire day was a Jonas Brothers fan dream, thanks to Amazon and the Jonas Brothers. It's been amazing to see the boys get back together, and I can't wait to see what this year has in store for them!
Need more visuals? Check out my recap video of the day!
Until next time,
Have faith, restart.