Nick Jonas colors Pittsburgh Pride in the Street

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Nick Jonas colors Pittsburgh Pride in the Street

By Kelechi Urama / Staff Writer

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Halfway through his Pittsburgh Pride in the Street performance on Saturday, Nick Jonas took a break from his own music and turned to his piano player, Chase Foster.

“Chase, what you got for me?” Jonas asked, as Foster began a slowed down, jazzier version of Outkast’s classic “Roses.” The crowd screamed so loudly they probably didn’t hear Jonas forget the words (“And the other half got you … short?”), but the charming pop singer still gave a satisfying, hour-long performance, just hours after a 7:30 p.m. show at the WBLI Summer Jam in Long Island, N.Y.

Jonas swooped into the headliner spot just three days before Pride in the Street, a concert and block party hosted by the Delta Foundation, an organization which supports the LGBTQ community in western Pennsylvania. Pride in the Street began at 7 p.m. and ended at 1:30 a.m. The Delta Foundation originally booked Australian rapper Iggy Azalea as the headliner, but she dropped out days before the concert because of controversy over offensive tweets she sent over the past few years. Members of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community found the tweets to be racially insensitive and homophobic, and complained to the Delta Foundation that Azalea was not fit to headline the event.

Jonas is the former guitarist of the Jonas Brothers, a pop rock group consisting of Jonas and his two brothers, which dissolved in 2013. His self-titled album, released in 2014,  furthering his solo career.

Jonas has a long history of supporting LGBTQ causes from endorsing the Trevor Project, an organization created to prevent LGBTQ suicides, to performing at popular gay night clubs like New York City’s Up & Down. Jonas also stars on DirecTV’s drama Kingdom as a gay MMA fighter, a role he told the audience he was “honored” to play.

Concert-goers enjoyed food and drinks from more than 150 vendors at Pride in the Street. The event also featured opening performances from TransPride Pittsburgh, a trans and genderqueer community organization, as well as appearances by actress/singer Michelle “Mish” Johnson and drag performer Anna-Steezia Ramon. DJ Strobe also provided techno beats to keep the crowd moving between performances.

Jonas was supposed to perform at 11 p.m., but he wasn’t onstage by then. Concertgoers got antsy and began chanting, “We want Nick!” with waning enthusiasm for about 10 minutes. He arrived backstage in a sleek, all-black ensemble just a few minutes later, causing a panic among the hundreds of people waiting for him outside the concert gates. With little fanfare or prep as roadies hooked up his mics, Jonas waited backstage for the emcee to call his name.

As the excited, and perhaps impatient, audience continued to chant, Jonas  got into game-mode.

“I’m very excited,” he said before running onstage to the sound of massive applause.

Jonas, backed by two female singers, opened with a bass-heavy rendition of  “Chains,” complete with club-like red and yellow strobe lights that had the audience dancing on its feet.

If Jonas was tired from his performance in New York just hours earlier, he didn’t let it show. His voice was strong throughout the show, and the audience’s screams reached a fever pitch with every high note.

He stayed behind the mic stand for the first half of the show and limited his choreography to pointing toward the audience with his hands, but he did venture away from the mic stand as the performance went on. He also limited the conversation between songs to short, rhetorical questions that excited the audience, like “Can we get our grown and sexy on?”

Jonas ended the show with his crowd-pleasing hit, “Jealous,” a pop-funk dance song about a possessive lover. As thousands of LGBTQ people hugged and kissed their partners without fear, it truly was a “sexy, beautiful” sight.

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