s, emails and the crazy Friday night crowd in Buntrock, then know this: Jesse McCartney came to St. Olaf, and many Oles were excited to see him perform.
McCartney is a 29-year-old pop star from New York. His popularity peaked in the early 2000’s with his top 20 single, “Beautiful Soul.” To many, he was a first crush. His welcoming smile, sweet-sounding voice and slick dance moves won over fans.
“He was my first celebrity crush when I was a kid, so seeing him live was like a childhood dream come true,” Megan Hussey ’20 said.
And on Friday, Oct. 7, the dream of seeing Jesse McCartney in concert became reality.
When MEC announced McCartney as the performer for its Fall Concert, responses were varied. Some students, like Hussey, could not wait to see their childhood favorite perform. These fans could be seen listening to his newest album “In Technicolor” on repeat weeks before the concert. Other students, however, were disappointed in the choice of performer. Donart Tota ’19 refrained from going to the concert because he has “never heard a single one of his songs.” These non-fans could be seen weeks before the concert watching all the Jesse hype with bewilderment.
Nevertheless, tickets for the concert were a hot commodity. Tickets went on sale for five dollars and sold out within 48 hours. By the time the concert day came, tickets were being resold for up to 100 dollars. On Friday, students camped out in line at the Pause starting at 10:00 a.m. Some students even skipped classes to reserve their spot in the front row. The line eventually trailed around behind the staircase, past the bookstore, and up the stairs of Buntrock. At 7:30 p.m., the doors opened. 825 tickets were sold and the Pause was jam-packed. No matter how much money, time or claustrophobia it cost, St. Olaf students were committed to seeing Jesse McCartney.
Kevin Yetter ’19 performed with his band as the opening act. The group impressed its audience with a coffee-shop-style musical lineup. The band had an indie rock ambiance reminiscent of artists like James Bay. The lyrics of each song were raw, tapping into both human and emotional ideas. A crowd favorite was the band’s cover of “Valerie.” Both singers – Yetter and Gabriella Nesheim ’19 – charmed the audience with soulful vocals.
“I really enjoyed their performance. It was definitely feel good music, but performed in a new way. It resonated with the crowd and the positive reaction showed that,” Emily Olson ’17 said.
After the impressive opener, Oles were prepped and ready for Jesse.
The wait for McCartney was extensive, but when he stepped on stage, the Pause filled with cheers. As he sang his first song, his stage presence immediately lit up the room.
McCartney’s music is a blend of soul, pop and R&B. His songs are a mix of old school with new school, and he established his style from artists like Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Similar to these artists, his songs get people on their feet dancing. Oles were no exception as they swayed to their favorite childhood songs. Students were brought back to middle school dances, dancing to “Leavin.’” The nostalgia continued as the pop star introduced one of his songs by saying “this came out when you were seven.” The crowd went wild as McCartney sang the song that made him famous, “Beautiful Soul.” It sounded as good as it did 12 years ago when the song was first released.
Not all students, however, had such a positive reaction to Jesse McCartney. One student complained of McCartney’s ludicrous excuse for his late arrival: that he was picking up some apples at the nearby Fireside Orchard.
Most of the criticism, however, centered around inappropriate comments made during the show. The 29-year-old mentioned partying with sorority houses, calling first-year girls “babes” over Snapchat and at many times throwing degrading comments at women.
“Jesse McCartney, on top of giving a poor performance on Friday night, made flippant comments about young girls that reflects a cultural attitude echoed recently by Donald Trump that is both worrisome and disrespectful towards women of all ages,” Emma Reid ’19 said.
Despite the few negative comments, the general consensus from Oles was positive. Most students looked at these minor details as all part of the show. Many were excited over seeing such a prominent person from their childhood and enjoyed singing along with their favorite early 2000’s tunes.
Gillian Gauntt ’19 spoke for many students when she posted: “Thank you so much Jesse McCartney for an awesome night! It was amazing to finally be able to see your beautiful soul live in concert.”