The GPB 2019 Spring Concert: A Reflection

In the past ten days, I have witnessed two Resurrections.

With Easter came Jesse McCartney– back rocking a fresh bunny suit and some new kicks.

On April 12, 2019, though, my childhood rose from the dead as two-hit wonder pop icon of the early 2000’s JAY SEAN returned from obscurity for a brief, shining moment to bless the Hoyas and the greater DMV area.

What follows is my gospel–the Gospel of Jon.

Chapter I: The Memoriam

Plato says that the soul has lived thousands of lives before ever entering one’s body. The corollary to this belief is that the soul can remember things it once forgot through questioning.

My question: Who is Jay Sean?

My fellow pilgrims were shocked at this blasphemous inquiry a week before the concert. They were offended and disappointed. But also, merciful. And in that mercy, they started singing “Down,” the holiest of Jay Sean’s psalms.

And so I remembered, sitting in the back seat of my father’s car with the song on repeat on the radio. Gross, sweaty, brace-faced middle schoolers chanting along with the song’s questionable lyrics yet sick, sick beat. A massive billboard on a Philippine superhighway with my cousins asking me if I remembered “all the good times we had.”

Yes, Jay. Yes, I do remember.

Chapter II: The Preparation

We knew the night would be long.

We knew there would be no time to eat or drink before going to McDonough.

So we feasted. We gorged. We consumed the most delicious, delectable items from the Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. Waterfront Restaurant’s Lower Level Banquet Hall. Homemade cornbread, French patate frites, Chicken Parmesan a la sandwich, fresh tossed salads, handmade ice cream, and the coolest Hi-C Lemonade that poured from its faucet like the nectar of the gods.

It was a shame that it was not Thor’s Day, where one can procure the tenderest of chicken. But, it was not a night for lamentation–only celebration.

I called my father afterwards and told him who I was watching that night. He laughed and started singing “Down.” Truly, a sign that it was to be the evening’s anthem.

Chapter III: The Pilgrimage

After a short rendezvous at Darnall where we prepared by listening to Jay Sean’s greatest hits and those of his finest collaborators (Pitbull, Lil Wayne, etc.) we ventured out on the long (legit, like 12 minutes) trek to McDonough. We saw other pilgrims on the same path, and as we reached the entrance of the parking garage, we received another blessing. After many hot, humid days, a gentle, yet firm, rain alighted upon our merry group, cooling us before the inevitably sweaty mess we were about to enter.

Arriving promptly at 8:45PM, we encountered a long line of pilgrims waiting to enter the holiest of holies. We waited patiently for our admittance, greeting friends new and old and imbuing ourselves with the energy of this place.

We got past the gates, a vendor called to us to purchase merchandise for a “Jesse McCartney.” Who this man was, I could not say. Yet, he seemed like a person who would be caught in his past as a teenage heartthrob, forgetting it had been 20 years and still awkwardly serenading a girl on stage.

But that’s just what I thought.

Anyway, the antechamber to the grander arena of McDonough was laden with free cookies and waters and energy drinks to sustain us for the remainder of the evening. Delighting in these simple pleasures, we reassembled as a group and entered.

Chapter IV: The Return

I had never been to a concert before
I had never been to a concert
I had never been

Strobe lights, like a hundred dawns,
Flashed on the smiling faces of
The pilgrims, like a hundred swans,
Singing, to the heartbeat of the DJ.

Quick, quick, we dove into the night-
Sky of the people, driving ourselves
Into the body of the crowd, closer
To the dais where the DJ stood and
Commanded the energy of a giant room.

Minutes passed, maybe an hour, and then
It was told to us a name: JAY SEAN,
Whispered loudly like a mother in church
To an upset son, bored of pretty things.
But like the son, we first hushed, then,
Like thunder, we roared.

And I remembered.

I generally get uncomfortable in crowds. But, it seemed like I was no longer in a crowd. I was the crowd and not the crowd because I was one thing: Jay Sean. My sole purpose was seeing this 38-year-old British pop icon sing his greatest hits, and he delivered.

He started off with “Bring It Back.” Then, he dropped some hits America has never heard and some new songs the world has never heard. Then, he sang some Punjabi songs, which, legitimately, was the coolest thing I had ever seen. Then, a pause, explaining why he left us for so long: why, Jay Sean, after defining a generation with his awesome music, left. The answer: corporations. I did not dwell on this fact, though. Now was a time to simply enjoy. And we did.

“Down” twice in a row. Magical. Giving the people what they want.

The most fun I’ve had at Georgetown, and to quote my friend, “On a scale of 1-10, I’m Jay Sean.”

Chapter V: The Aftermath

I left early with a friend because we kept getting pushed further and further away from our other friends we came with. Sometimes, it’s good to quit while your ahead.

Walking back, we shared how enjoyable it was and how it was probably the best $5 investment we had ever made. We both agreed that Jay Sean was a really random choice, but his obscurity for the last however-many years made it that much more special. The utter irony of our legitimate excitement for a man of whom we know because of two songs increased our enjoyment exponentially.

It was a blend of nostalgia and genuine interest that made the concert this year so entertaining.

I’m a changed person insofar as it’s the most honest, good time I’ve had in a hot minute.

I just hope that next year GPB can pull it off again.

P.S. Sean Kingston and Jason Derulo. That is all.

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