Bridgeport's teenyboppers dominated the audience last night as the Cowsills, currently one of the nation's "hottest" pop music acts, performed the "rites of rock" in the Bridgeport Festival tent theater, showing that the 20th annual Barnum Festival has something for everybody.
The Cowsills, seven members of a Newport, R.I. family brought warmth to a miserably wet and cold Bridgeport night in hte first of eight Barnum Festival shows in the theater tent.
The city's young dominated the audience, their flash bulbs popping on and off for pictures their hands shooting into the air with waves, and their vocal chords and lips forming the sounds of screams.
And as the show's last notes twanged, the hundreds, mostly female, gave Festival and city police officials a start as they ringed the stage and blocked the entrances to the outside dressing rooms, waiting for autographs.
Inside the tent, the Cowsills, the five young men, their nine-year-old sister and their mother, presented an entertaining, it uneven concert.
Having arisen to nationwide popularity within the past eight months with two recordings, the Cowsills played a straight pop format for more than two hours, injecting a few folk-rock and "soul" numbers.
Sparked by the constant "boom" of energetic John Cowsill, 12-year-old drummer, the group offered 13 first set numbers that spotlighted various family members.
Susan Captures Hearts
Mrs. Barbara Cowsill sung a tender version of "Cruel War", a'contemporary folk piece about the civil war and lovers parting but was upstaged by her 9-year-old daughter, Susan, who captured the hearts of those present with two vocal solos, some bass guitar playing, the guitar being as tall as she.
The group's arrangement of "Dancing in the Streets," displayed too much heaviness, however, as the harmony failed to bring out what the teenyboppers consider the "soul" side of the song.
After a faithful version of the 1830's blues number, "Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime," the group seemed to be filling time with a 10 minute "golden oldies" medley of past rock hits.
Rather than meeting the challenge of the old and putting the rock arrangements into new forms and arrangements, the Cowsills seemed content with carbon copies of songs made popular by The Beach Boys, Herman's Hermits, the Beatles, and "Wicked" Wilson Pickett.
But the group recovered and finished the concert with six songs in their original style, two sung in Italian, while the teenyboppers crowded the stage and filled the aisles while streaming to the dressing rooms.
Though one audience observer was overheard saying that the Cowsills were a "measure of respect to what is becoming a decadent art form," it was evident from the hundreds of teenagers, mostly females, blocking the dressing room entrances while standing ankle deep in mud and puddles caused by the rain, that much of the group's popularity lies within the group's youth; five fellows ranging from ages 20'to 12, and all with heads sproting more hair than their cute 9-year-old sister.