Austin Mahone at NRG Arena, 7/26/2014

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Austin Mahone, the Vamps, Fifth Harmony, Shawn Mendes NRG Arena July 26, 2014

It was in 2011 when I first came across Austin Mahone's YouTube channel. I remember watching a few of his singing videos and forming a pretty vacant opinion of the then-brace-faced 15 year-old. To me, he was another teenage boy who could stay on pitch but mostly relied on his baby-faced looks to see if he could make it.

In fact, out of all the young guys during that time who were trying to make it as a singer on YouTube, I'd say Mahone had one of the highest rates of WPV (winks per video). However, it did seem like the San Antonio native was one of the few who had that certain something record labels could work with.

Since then, the budding teen idol has released four successful singles and an EP through Young Money Cash Money records, but the bulk of his success should be indebted to his legion of loyal fans who call themselves "Mahomies."

These Mahomies were in full force Saturday night as my +1 and I walked into the NRG Arena. Even before the three opening acts had started performing, there were teenage girls running around with their besties to who knows where and girls jumping up and down when they got their T-shirt and put it on over the clothes they were wearing.

The ticket said the show started at 7, and it wasn't lying. At 7 p.m. sharp, it was time for Vine star Shawn Mendes, X-Factor girl group Fifth Harmony, and UK pop-rock boy band The Vamps to perform. I have to say, in retrospect I was impressed with how good the opening acts were. Looking around, the fans were decked out in merch for all four of Saturday's acts; that made it seem like this tour was not just an Austin Mahone worship hour, which was nice.

Of course, when the man himself came on stage, it was all about him. The arena wasn't close to being full, but due to the volume of screams, it sure did seem like it. I made it a point a few times during his set to look around and observe and found that everything you'd expect to be going on was going on. Security had their work cut out for them because every five seconds, they would have to frantically gather the small bundle of girls that was accumulating in the front of the stage and send them back to their seats.

When Mahone threw his sweaty towel into section A, the girls pulled out their big guns for a game of tug-of-war. When he finally decided on the girl he was going to bring onstage to serenade, the bitter gossip ensued.

"Well, maybe you should've tried harder, Marissa!"

Story continues on the next page.

I know the Mahomies don't like it when people compare Austin to Justin Bieber, but the comparison is necessary, and here it is: Austin Mahone is the perfect alternative to fans who are over the Biebs' antics. Mahone is ten times more charming, 20 times more loving towards his fans, and way more dedicated to his craft.

Mahome started out on YouTube with just his guitar and a camera, but Saturday he was doing some choreography that must have taken months to perfect. His music is equally catchy, some songs taking it back to the kind of sound that was popular when NSYNC was at its peak. Austin's stage clothes were bold and flashy, and he rocked them well, which kind of made me want to go out and upgrade my Target wardrobe a little bit.

After the show ended, I walked around asking a few fans what they liked most about the show and got bombarded with answers as they each attempted to translate their post-concert high into words.

"When I see him, I just go crazy because I love him so much, and I knew him when he wasn't even famous. He loves us," said Hanna W., who had her big moment last night when Austin caught a teddy bear she threw onstage.

Even as we walked out of the arena, the fangirl-ish energy was still thriving, and Mahomies were already gathering at all of the venue's exits to hopefully catch a glimpse of Austin as he drove away to the next city. Every generation of teen girls needs a swoon-worthy musician to idolize, and last night proved that for a growing number of people, Austin Mahone is becoming just that.

Oh, and if you just happen to be reading this, Austin -- Sarah from Pearland wanted me to tell you she loves you.

Personal Bias: I'll take just about anything over Justin Bieber.

The Crowd: Overwhelmingly loud teenage girls. High-waisted shorts, tank tops, thong sandals.

Overheard In the Crowd: "TAKE ME! TAKE ME! TAKE ME!!"


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