Tokio Hotel @ Starland Ballroom

Tokio Hotel (Thomas Raabsche)SAYREVILLE, NJ—Not since Justin Timberlake’s concert at Starland Ballroom have I seen the venue packed with so many swooning girls, with cameras in hand ready for their heartthrobs to take the stage. It was a sold out night for the first stop of their U.S. club tour and girls defied Starland policies by arriving early in the morning to line up to get the perfect spot inside.

It must have been a treat for fans to see the German rock band, who had recently released their first English album, Scream, as the venue is quite small. I could only imagine the rush to the front of the stage by those in line as by the time I entered the building, there was not an inch on the main floor in front of the stage to squeeze in. Not surprisingly, there was little room by the bar as well as parents filled the space to watch their young teens have fun below.

Walking in, you were hit by a wall of screams that almost drowned out the music. Then there was a wall of lights placed behind the band on stage that helped turn this small venue into a larger than life concert hall. And if you tuned your ears just right, you were met with record quality vocals and instrumentals.

On stage, lead singer Bill Kaulitz seemed comfortable and knew how to work the girls below into a frenzy. His appearance, with big hair and “emo” uniform, was even more eye catching than the lights behind the band. Yet, with bandmates who were a little toned down in “look,” it made their performance seem a bit like a high school talent show.

All this aside, their performance was quite enjoyable and I even caught most of the parents in the back dancing and singing along. They saved their hits and catchiest tunes, in my opinion, for the end of their short set. If you were unfamiliar with the band’s catalog till this point, when “Scream” came on, it was hard not to sing along.

When the tempo slowed down, the floor settled and allowed for photo-ops and Kaulitz to show off his vocals on tracks like “Don’t Jump.” He has a smooth and nicely rounded out voice, but when he talked, he was breathy and light spoken maybe in part due to recent surgery on his vocal cords.

The songs went by rather quickly and the short time they were up there made me wish a full stadium tour was the next day—as I’m sure the teens down on the floor were thinking the same. To show off their rock star status that they’ve acquired, not only did they do one encore, but two. I was halfway out the door after the first encore of “Rescure Me,” when the screams came rushing out to me.

The boys allowed for a large pause for their return back on stage and the girls all played along with acting like they wouldn’t come back by reacting with on the verge of fainting screams. They ended the evening with “Durch den Monsun” exchanging the lyrics between English and their mother tongue.

Photo Credit: Thomas Raabsche