News Column

Justin Beiber Pre-concert Turns Tulsa Into Street Festival

Jan 10, 2013

Jennifer Chancellor

Justin Beiber

Fans lined up outside with the threat of rain hanging in the chilly air.

The crush of mostly girls and their moms exploded in the cotton candy, pop hues of Justin Bieber's favorite color -- purple -- in the form of dresses, hoodies, puffy coats, hand-designed T's, jeans, leggings, tennis shoes and even hair color.

Nothing would stop these young music fans from seeing this sold-out concert at the BOK Center on Wednesday night.

Best friends Emma Pool, 10, and Alexis Crawford, 11, trekked in from Coffeyville, Kan., to see their first Bieber concert together.

Their mothers, Jamie Pool and Hayley Crawford, perhaps had as much fun as the girls. Both women captured video and photos of the girls dancing and smiling as they yelled and waved giant, hand-made "J" and "B" letters in time to blaring music that played as thousands of fans waited in line.

The crew made the hour-plus drive here and would be driving home after the show.

"We're ready for this concert!" said Emma.

The girls prepped with Bieber videos, music and other games on the ride here. They hopped around in purple Ts and skirts, smiled through the giant letters they foisted, laughed and sang, oblivious to anything but this moment -- the pre-Biebs concert wind-up.

"The tickets were a Christmas present, but Mom couldn't keep a secret, so we found out about November," Alexis said. "The tickets are the best thing ever in my whole life."

Bieber is a unique phenomenon, even in this era of super-hyped pop and megawatt boy bands.

Rachel Adams, the venue's marketing manager, said the BOK Center has sold out 30 concerts since the 19,199-seat arena opened in mid-2008. It's the second sold-out concert here for Bieber.

His first sold-out headlining tour rolled through here in 2010, making him the youngest act to sell out the venue.

Most other venue sellouts are industry veterans: The Eagles, George Strait with Reba McEntire, Aerosmith, Paul McCartney, AC/DC and Brooks & Dunn, along with the occasional girl-power touring acts Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

With Bieber comes a fanfare and maniacal energy that -- especially with solo pop performers -- hasn't been seen since Michael Jackson's "Thriller" tour in the mid-1980s. Granted, Jackson had nearly two decades of performance experience under his belt at the time. Bieber has less than five years'.

Tellingly, pre-Bieber show music was Jackson's greatest hits.

Every few minutes, the thousands waiting on the doors to open would erupt in near-mayhem peals of delight and anticipation. Was that Justin at the door? No, it was a Bieber lookalike just outside the door, break-dancing and lip-syncing to "Baby" as a wide circle formed around him, clapping in time.

Music blared over outdoor speakers, some from local radio stations, but many from boom-boxes lugged out by fans. The din created a Technicolored, impromptu, street festival filled with instant friends and longtime fans.

Cousins McKenna Smith, 11, and Uriah McPerryman, 10, both came in from Wetumka with their mothers, Melinda Smith and Lenora Crump.

The excitement of their first concert ever also drew in a friend and co-worker of the women's, Stormi Hyslope of Muskogee.

"I'm so excited, I'm embarrassed," the cheery 23-year-old admitted. The girls jumped and smiled, waving larger-than-life Bieber heads on home-made sticks, like comical bobble-heads.

Again, one scream from the throng of fans outside the venue erupted in a crushing frenzy toward the doors. Camera phones were lifted into the air. Young girls were foisted onto parents' shoulders. One young girl made a cutting motion across her neck as she yelled to her mom across the heaving throng.

"False alarm!" she said. "It's not him!"

Soon enough, though, it would be.

Within minutes, the doors opened, followed by yet another rowdy eruption. Slowly, the masses shuffled through the glass doors and into an otherworldly arena where every girl's dream comes true.

Source: (c)2013 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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