EVERETT — The near-deafening squeal coming from Comcast Arena on Tuesday night?
That was just another reaction to Bieber Fever.
Green laser lights shot out over the sold-out crowd of 8,588 as Justin Bieber rose from below the stage in a cloud of smoke.
The audience erupted into ear-splitting bliss as he opened his set with “Love Me.” The track is one of the many bright R&B songs that helped Bieber top the Billboard charts.
“You guys are the best,” Bieber said to screams. “I love performing for my fans. But you know what I love the most? I love seeing you guys smile. Because when you smile, I smile.”
The Everett show broke the attendance record for Comcast Arena, venue officials said. There have been other sell-outs there, but the stage configuration of the Bieber show allowed more seating than any concert in the arena’s seven-year history. That marks just another success in Bieber’s quick rise to fame.
A few years ago, Bieber was just another unknown kid in Ontario, Canada, posting videos to YouTube. A talent agent spotted him online and eventually lined up an audition with Usher. The R&B superstar helped Bieber sign a recording contract.
Now 16, Bieber has two platinum albums under his belt and is, well, setting records in Everett.
The rags-to-riches story fuels the devotion of fans including Makalie Zdenek, 15, and her friend Taylor Grant, 16. The teenagers drove with their mothers more than 400 miles from Plains, Mont., to see Bieber in Everett.
“It was the closest concert,” said Makalie.
Like dozens of others at the show, the girls wore handmade T-shirts. Theirs were purple — Bieber’s favorite color — and said “True Belieber.”
Part of Bieber’s appeal is his cute, clean-cut image, they said. Even his mop-top looks impeccably conditioned.
“Everyone thinks he sings like a girl, but I don’t know, I like his voice,” Makalie said.
The girls were considering buying a couple of $35 T-shirts. They weren’t alone. Hundreds swarmed merchandise booths. Bieber is a brisk business, after all.
A bracelet with a heart-shaped charm ran $20. Posters of the singer giving a come-hither look were $10. A commemorative lanyard and souvenir laminate was $15.
“All you have to say is, ‘Pandemonium,’” said Austin Wright, escorting his 12-year-old sister at one of the booths.
Inside the auditorium, thousands of the girls gave ear-vibrating shrieks whenever the lights dimmed. They cheered for opening acts the Stunners and Sean Kingston. They held their arms up in rapturous glee for Bieber.
The mood was more sedate in the arena’s parents lounge.
There, Michelle Adie was reading the novel “Windless Summer” and sipping on complimentary lemonade. The Monroe mother was among dozens of parents who lacked Bieber fever.
Adie had a ticket but gave it to her daughter’s friend.
“I don’t think I can sit through that,” Adie said. “Her friend was more than happy.”
Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455; firstname.lastname@example.org
The top 10 concert draws at Comcast Arena, by paid attendance, since it opened in 2003.
8,588: Justin Bieber, July 2010
8,394: Tool, December 2007
8,260: Cher, January 2005
8,053: Blue Man Group, February 2007
7,961: Carrie Underwood, May 2010
7,580: The Jonas Brothers, February 2008
7,754: Black Eyed Peas, May 2006
7,571: Bette Midler, December 2004
7,560: The Cure, August 2004
7,547: Rod Stewart, April 2004