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Operation Cody Simpson: A Phoenix writer braves a tween concert for his daughter


In the weeks preceding Thursday’s CODY SIMPSON concert at the Paradise, I had been doing such a good job of keeping everything a complete secret from my nine-year-old daughter, Anouk. That is, until she found out about the concert the day before at school.

I picked her up and she despondently handed me a note which expressed her deepest love and which begged me to take her to the concert (part of it read: “20 dollars – cheap!”). Also, her note reminded me of several bad things that I had done, like the time a couple years ago that I threw her trinket away and said I would replace it but never did, and how taking her to the Cody Simpson concert would settle all debts ancient and modern. So being the good dad that I am, I did what I thought was the right thing: convince her that no such concert was happening, right down to even generating a fake email from Atlantic Records stating that Cody Simpson was playing a February 2 concert in a place called Boston, Missouri, and not, in fact, in Boston, Massachusetts.

So then without a hitch, Anouk went to school the next day, otherwise going on with her life telling everyone about a place called Boston, Missouri (which apparently was not really appreciated during her Geography unit). After school, we got in the car and I proposed going “out to dinner.” As we approached the Paradise there was a giant tour-bus parked out front. “I wonder who could be in there?” I said.

“Maybe it’s Cody Simpson?!” she returned, a natural response considering her daily obsession with the 15 year-old Australian teen-pop sensation. She’s not the only enamored one. Simpson has gathered the dedicated following of tween and younger teenage girls not via radio airplay so much but more on the strength of marketing in magazines like J-14 and a wicked street campaign modeled much after the one that brought Justin Bieber to fame.

When she noticed Cody’s name (yeah, we’re on a first-name basis) on the marquee above the Paradise, her initial response was one of complete disgust and anger. “Dad, NO!” she said, her face turning red, imagining at first (or so I believe) that I had paraded her down to the Paradise to not only reveal that there was in fact a Cody Simpson concert in Boston (Massachusetts), but also to rub it in her face that she in fact was not going to go.

From the time that I shouted “SURPRISE!” to the time that she was actually able to accept the happy truth that we were going inside took a good thirty seconds of intense catharsis.

Anger to shock to confusion and finally ecstasy.

“I think I’m going to cry a lot tonight,” she said with a moon-like smile.

In the months leading up to the concert I had asked my daughter many times, “WHY do you like Cody Simpson.” Her response would usually be something like this:

1. Cute
2. Cute accent
3. Good dancer
4. Good singer

I can tell you know that after seeing his concert that most of this is true. I can also tell you that my eight-year-old son’s review of the show was somewhat accurate as well:

1. Too many girls
2. Too loud

Starting with my son’s more negative perspective (little acorns and all), there were indeed TOO many girls inside. Although Cody seemed to know exactly how close he could get to the crowd and how much he could flirt (he came across as a very seasoned performer and a decent guitar player to boot), these girls would have ripped him to shreds. Matching Cody Simpson t-shirts not withstanding ($30 a pop, $50 for sweatshirts, and of course, action figures), these girls also looked like a little army of clones, with their straight brown hair and suburban shopping mall affect. Go dad, right?

Now, when it comes to loudness, there was nothing but sheer screaming from the time he went on stage at 8 pm to the time he abruptly walked off at 9. No clapping. Not even when the show ended. In fact, the show actually ended by Cody’s manager walking onto the stage, like David Cross from the Chipmunks movies, and thanking all the kids for showing their support. Screaming (in sort of a generic, mid-octave shill) is the new clapping.

Now, onto my daughter’s points.

Cody was indeed pretty cute for a 15 year-old kid (and don’t give me a hard time for saying that, this is my daughter’s boyfriend after all). He was tall with brown leather shoes that looked like platypus bills. His hair stuck up with a shock of surfer blonde and his skinny tie and vest made for a good H&M look. His dancing was also quite good — opting for the slo-mo, robotic, slide and pop style made famous first by Michael Jackson and later carried on by Justin Timberlake and many others.

All in all, Cody was very smooth on stage and was obviously trying to sound and act much older than 15. His voice (indeed Australian!) may have even been altered to some degree to make him sound a little deeper. What was most entertaining of all though was to watch his staged bossing-around of his band (a trio of 20-something of black r&b studio ringers in ironic hipster gear), as if he had some authority over them or had been working with them for years. Somebody must be wanting to tap into that slightly older mainstream radio market.

As for his singing, it’s hard to say. Whoever was running sound at the Paradise had their hands full trying to blend in pre-recorded tracks and pre-recorded vocals with whatever was happening live on-stage (one thin vocal from Cody blended into the mix, live drums, bass, and one keyboard). When you could clearly him, and when he was turned up, he sounded really good. Although most of the time, the overall sound suffered from an irritating distortion that kept the songs from sounding either like the radio versions, or like a live concert.

And more about the music? Well, most of my time was spent watching the show through the eyes of my daughter, who clung to the balcony and watched her idol sing and dance and charm her in a private concert just a mere 200 feet away. Was it emotional when Cody brought a lucky 13 year-old girl up on stage to serenade her with his slow-jam “Not Just You?”

Heck yes.

But I was very grateful that my daughter was a good four years away from being pulled up on that stage. And did the shivers come when Cody dropped his fan-favorite rave-up “All Day?”

Absolutely.

With tears on the little one. You’re like my favorite song on the radio/I could listen to you all day.

“So did you get Cody out of your system?” I asked her after the show. “Do you think you’re ready to move on?”

“Dad!” she said with a happy smile and a knowing twist, “It’s only the beginning!”

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