TAMPA — Much like french fries and summer flings, boy bands have a short shelf life for a reason. No offense to the cutie-pie rapscallions in 5 Seconds of Summer and One Direction, who paired up to pack Raymond James Stadium on Friday with more than 50,000 caterwauling young ladies, but these shaggy scamps were never meant to last. They are but a tasty moment in time, to be devoured quickly and with gusto, then remembered fondly and forever.
Okay, that's about enough of that deep thinking! As Luke Hemmings, the lead dreamboat in the Aussie quartet 5SOS, wisely intoned over and over: "Let me hear you SCREAM!" Oh, and the throngs hollered and huzzahed and yeehawed, a glorious tinnitus-inducing 'splosion of lungs and youth, never mind the wet weather that moved in halfway through.
5SOS fancies itself a rock band, and sure, why not? For entry music, they went with AC/DC's Highway to Hell, and bless the underage crowd for pumping fists and singing every word. Then the quartet bounded out in Metallica shirts and mangled tank tops and pogoed into opening song 18. On Good Girls and underwear salute She Looks So Perfect, drummer Ashton Irwin displayed all the finesse of Animal in the Muppets, but hey, at least he was working hard.
Yes, they hit all the cheeky tropes during their 45-minute set. Before the ballad Amnesia, bassist Calum Hood said, "Tampa is the best city in the world." Oh, Calum, I bet you say that to all the metropoli! Still, there's something to be said for the DIY ethic — even if a cover of the Romantics' What I Like About You sounded like the Romantics trying to sing during a root canal.
(A brief intermission, unlike the actual 50-minute intermission between acts: Such was the devotion of the crowd darlings that when the rain started, the reaction was, well, nothing. Just more dancing, including a mass Macarena, which is apparently making a comeback! As if We, the Oldsters, needed a reminder: Being 15 rocks.)
One Direction is a far dandier crew than 5SOS, built on posturing over performance. And you could argue that the opening act has bigger buzz than the headliners. But 1D are confident Brits, and if they don't have the musical chops, they have the cheeky strut. Case in point: the long, exaggerated "arrow" walkway thrusting into the middle of the venue. Really, guys?
Dressed for a late-night run to a convenience store (Harry Styles' epic mop was braided with a man-bun, a coiff that no doubt inspired 10 million tweets), the Simon Cowell-discovered quintet came out beautifully casual, as if these boys-to-men stumbled onto the show by accident. As they harmonized on Midnight Memories, they hardly seemed to notice the fireworks going off and the dazzling stage built via IMAX-sized screens.
For about 90 minutes, they strolled about and called us "beautiful" and smirked at the tip of that saucy arrow, barking more shoutouts to the bay area than the chamber of commerce. In between milquetoast dribbles Rock Me, Live While We're Young and Strong, each took turns addressing the crowd, allowing special moments for Tiger Beat-en fans of Zayn! Louis! Liam! Harry! Niall! Their voices are as interchangeable as their onstage personas. Then again, the audience member whom Styles wished happy birthday might disagree with me.
Although the music isn't the point, 1D's songbook has some nice moments. Glow thingies and iPhones lit up the stadium during Don't Forget Where You Belong. Streamers rocketed during Happily, a pubby sing-along that didn't need help. And soon enough, the No. 1's were delivered: One Thing, What Makes You Beautiful and Story of My Life. The guys seemed unimpressed by it all — even as the arrow tip lifted them into the night — but this was never about them anyway. Enjoy it while you can, ladies. And don't skimp on the fries and flings, either.