Already winners of the Best Pop Video award and stars of incessant pre-show promos, MTV has repeatedly told us that THIS is One Direction’s moment. After changing from sharp suits to more casual but equally sharp jeans and tees, the group entered the stage to a constant stream of screaming that never really wavered—even when Harry Styles encouraged those pawing at their feet to get louder. They sang directly to their fans, while the camera panned to more famous, age-appropriate supporters in the crowd, and struggled to find new camera angles—Niall Horan singing, as seen through a hand-heart symbol—to capture exactly what this moment represents. Sorry, Zoe Saldana. You just don’t get it.
1D was given a much larger space than we previous saw with their appearance on Saturday Night Live a few months back, which eliminated the need to rely on awkward box steps and half-assed choreography. Instead the boys had plenty of room to jump, toy with air guitar and reach out and touch their most dedicated fans—basically they acted like a bunch of gleeful teenage boys in front of girls willing to do anything for them. There are hints at what’s to come with the new single and November release, as Harry’s belt sounded fuller by song’s end —voice change?—and symbolism galore to be found in their stage actually rising to new Staples Center heights. Metaphorical overkill by the producers for sure, but the millions wiping tears from their eyes around the world wouldn’t have it any other way.