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October 15, 2018

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Photos: Big Time Rush is a big time rush for young girls at Mandalay Bay


Bryan Haraway/

Big Time Rush performs at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday, July 21, 2012.

Big Time Rush at Mandalay Bay Events Center

Big Time Rush performs at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday, July 21, 2012. Launch slideshow »
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Kendall Schmidt of the Nickelodeon boyband Big Time Rush celebrates his 21st birthday at Tao on Nov. 25, 2011.

Groups such as Big Time Rush often get tagged as a boy band to dismiss their popularity as a passing fancy for little girls.

But over generations, groups such the Osmonds, the Jackson Five, New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys become bookmarks of life’s memories. Hearing the songs years later rekindles times when we worried so much about concerns of so little consequence.

Big Time Rush made memories for a couple thousand young girls, from 6 to 16, on Saturday night at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Many were attending their first concert. They said so through a Twitter hash tag broadcast on video screens at the front of the arena.

With homemade T-shirts and posters, they professed their love for Logan Henderson, Kendall Schmidt, James Maslow and Carlos Pena Jr. The young men returned the affection with shining smiles, smooth dance moves and tight harmonies while performing to thunderous screaming amid showering pyrotechnics and confetti cannons.

The music itself would be easy to pan as pedestrian pop. That also would not recognize the potentially enduring quality such music has provided over the ages. Even the most cutting-edge DJs at fashionable nightclubs across the Strip can bring a trendy crowd to their feet by mixing in a few stanzas of “I Want You Back,” the timeless boy-band anthem from the Jacksons.

It would ignore such songs as “Cover Girl,” where BTR croons: “When you’re looking at the magazines/ And thinking you’ll never measure up/ You’re wrong/ … It’s the beauty that shines underneath your skin/ the beauty that shines within.” Not smashing poetry, but isn’t that the kind of message we want young girls to hear from their heartthrobs?

It’s also heartening to see a group so willing to share the spotlight with its fans. BTR ended the song “Worldwide” by broadcasting YouTube videos of the song by those fans. At another point, they brought four girls onstage to sing to them personally.

BTR paid tribute to the Beatles -- who may have been tagged a boy band if that term had been around in 1964 -- with an a cappella version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and an energetic rendition of “Help!” It was no doubt a nod to moms and dads who brought their daughters to the concert.

The night’s other acts worked just as hard to deliver memories.

New Hollow, a trio of Ohio neighborhood boys who got together in a basement, demonstrated that they could rock the house and rev up the crowd before their 18th birthdays. Girls screamed “you’re hot!” and “I love you!” as Mick Clouse, Chad Blashford and Evan West moved between soulful songs such as “Hallelujah” and rockers like “SiCK,” showing that they’re not likely to soon return to Mick’s basement.

Rachel Crow, the show’s opener, followed a historic pop tradition: the so-called little girl with the big voice pioneered by Brenda Lee and Little Eva. The 14-year-old lived up to that legacy with a commanding stage presence and powerful songs such as “Mean Girls,” about not giving into bullying.

By the time BTR finished their eponymous encore, even the moms were singing and dancing along.

It was appropriate that this concert played the same weekend as the Jacksons and Neil Sedaka (the undisputed king of bubblegum), while Donny & Marie continued their headliner run at the Flamingo.

Because the true measure of Big Time Rush won’t be about a show on one Saturday night at Mandalay Bay. It will be written in the memories of the screaming girls if they continue to warmly recall those songs as they grow up.

And whether they’re willing to buy tickets to hear that music again in Las Vegas showrooms 40 years from now.

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