Kids Rock Out on Star-Studded Lineup, and on Politics

Michelle Obama and daughter Malia get their groove on at Verizon.
Michelle Obama and daughter Malia get their groove on at Verizon. (By Lois Raimondo -- The Washington Post)
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By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It was the inaugural concert for the YouTube generation, and Miley Cyrus, Bow Wow and the Jonas Brothers led a fan screamfest at Verizon Center last night that was equal parts history lesson and showbiz.

"Wave your hands like this, D.C.!" Bow Wow chanted. Left to right, left to right, went thousands of hands, including those of Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama in their front-row seats.

"If you think you can't do your homework and watch TV at the same time . . . " comedian George Lopez called out to the tweener-filled crowd. It was in the midst of a playful call-and-response remix of the president-elect's signature line.

"YES WE CAN!" they roared back.

And then the Jonas Brothers launched into "SOS," their first hit -- with nearly 60 million views on YouTube, making it one of the most-viewed clips in the site's history -- and the rest of the night was a foot-stomping, power-chord sing-along.

It's true, I gave my all for you

Now my heart's in two

And I can't find my other half.

Everybody knew every word.

"The Kids' Inaugural: We Are the Future" was a 90-minute set that sprinted through star cameos and cartoon clips of "American Idol" and presidential trivia contests, interspersed with tributes to military families and their sacrifice and service. Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah and Usher all dropped by the show to offer their praise for members of the nation's armed forces. The show aired later in the evening on the Disney Channel.

But the most stunning sight at the show had to be the empty seats. In the venue, which can hold upwards of 18,000 for concerts, there were at least a thousand vacant seats, including a smattering on the floor. This, despite the fact that the tickets were free, despite the fact that clutches of hopeful parents and children stood outside before the show asking concertgoers if they had an extra tickets. The Presidential Inaugural Committee had said in an earlier news release that 1,000 tickets had been given to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. Yesterday, the committee Web site said more than 1,000 were issued to military family members. But, for whatever reason, the venue had plenty of room for fans of performers who routinely sell out larger arenas on their own.

That said, the show drew enthusiastic young fans from a cross the nation. It was a girl-heavy crowd, and racially mixed.

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