Saturday Night: New Kids On The Block & Backstreet Boys At Toyota Center
It's been 25 years since New Kids on the Block emerged on the pop scene, creating an entire generation of maniacally devoted fans overnight. Some girls fainted at the mere sight of the group; others creatively crafted puff-paint T-shirts in homage to their favorite member.
As Aftermath approached the Toyota Center Saturday night to see the reunited '80s boy-band sensation, it seemed not much had changed since 1986, at first glance: Girls excitedly entered the venue wearing faded, old-school or handmade NKOTB T-shirts; in this instance, however, most shirts read "NKOTBSB," as the New Kids' arguable '90s equivalent, the Backstreet Boys, co-headlined the show.
After a dramatically long teaser intro, NKOTBSB took the stage together, opening with a medley of NKOTB's "Single" and BSB's "The One," set against an orchestral sample of Coldplay's "Viva la Vida," oddly enough.
Unless you've seen the New Kids before - or Justin Bieber, or, hell, the Beatles - you cannot begin to fathom the magnitude, and volume, of 18,000 relentlessly shrieking girls. The music wasn't particularly loud, but Aftermath found ourselves desperately searching for earplugs to soothe our ears from the screams.
Clad in black denim and bedazzled leather jackets, NKOTB performed the first solo slot with "Summertime," from 2008's The Block. Next, BSB took the stage with "The Call." The trade-off continued all night, which worked surprisingly effectively; the shuffle was like the antidote for A.D.D-ridden show-goers.
Within seconds of the opening beats of "You Got It (The Right Stuff)," the stadium roared with wistful glee. Sweetening the experience was the group's inclusion of the exact choreography from the song's 1988 video. Every NKOTB fan in the house melted at the familiar sight.
While the NKOTBSB union makes sense on paper, Aftermath struggled with the pairing; NKOTB and BSB were from different eras. We were in high school when BSB debuted, and remember thinking we wouldn't be caught dead listening to their music; we also never considered it particularly good. Moreover, they emerged in the same era of so many comparable acts like N'Sync and 98°; when NKOTB debuted, there were no other pop acts like them.
But Aftermath seemed to be in the minority Saturday, as fans were clearly supportive of both acts. Girls raised handmade posters with "I LOVE NKOTB" on one side, and "I LOVE BSB" on the other; they flipped the signs accordingly.
Both groups performed with perfected choreography and enduringly high energy; they're also master flirters. Aftermath thinks every girl in Toyota Center left the venue believing she was the receiver of a blown kiss at some point during the night.
While there were sprinklings of lesser-known, new material in the bunch, we were treated to every single nostalgic hit, too. But most highlights came thanks to the New Kids' between-song banter.