I was hunched down in my seat, doing what I love to do most (aside from writing!): People watch. Looking at those around me in any social situation and asking myself the critical questions: Who? How? Why?What? As though by observing them in one of their natural habitats, all there secrets and charm, their stories and their dreams will be revealed to me. I imagine a labyrinthine cornucopia of what led them to be in the same place as I, at that very moment....
I was a teenager in the supernova explosion of the MTV era. In fact, I was the only one in my little crew that even HAD cable, let alone Music Television and I rode the coat tails of that gig straight into the ground. I was Queen in my tiny Kingdom and my benevolence in allowing others to partake of this auditory feast took me a long way in terms of "cool" factor. I was, thanks to MTV & VH1, "The Fonz" of Cerro Villa Middle School and Jackson Street. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, indeed.
Hands down, I was big into New Ro, Glam Rock, Metal, Punk, New Wave, College Rock. And if you've known me for at least 30 seconds, you know I'm a hard core DuranDuran fangirl with no shame in my game. I could devote hours, days, weeks and months in glorifying the Fab Five but I'm here to share about a different band, one I had no clue would be the sensation they remain today.
New Kids on the Block.
No, wait! Seriously, bear with me.
While I was all leather, lace, bangles and Aquanetting it in the late 80s, a new wave of what came to be called "Boy Bands" were sweeping the nation with all the subtle finesse of tsunami. While I personally wouldn't have spit on any of these bands if they were ablaze in my late teen superiority, NKOTB threw out the line and done nabbed themselves a whole passel of fish. A new generation of fangirls were born! It was pandemic!
And my little sister, once a completely devout and dedicated member of "The Church of the Poison Mind" (she was nutters for Culture Club and at age 6 proclaimed some day she would be "Girl George" as she planned on becoming a bride of Boy.) was one of the anglers NKOTB hooked. She was sprung on them all. Suddenly the room we shared at the time, lovingly decorated in shades of Duran Duran was redecorated in posters, drapes, pillows, bedsheets, notebooks, lunchbags, etc of the Boys from Boston.
I was concerned enough to attempt to find medical attention and barring that a damn good exorcist of the best sort for my obviously possessed sibling. She made my mooning of Duran Duran look amateurish.
And lo, one day she won tickets to see them at Dodger Stadium. Much hooplah surrounded the myth that I "volunteered" to attend with her. Our saintly mother offered and I was quick to step in and offer myself up as a sacrificial lamb. Of course, I'd attend in disguise and keep it low key so as not to betray my firmly laid roots in the 80s sub genres I've mentioned.
I was curious. Plain and simple. I wanted to see what this "boy band" was made of. I wanted to see and hear there musical chops as they contended for the throne of popularity.
I can admit now, decades later than on a scale of 1 to 10, I was generously giving them a 6. I was a massive concert goer, had attended many shows by this time and despite their youth, their "wet behind the ears" newness and freshman energy, they put on a good show. I was not smitten, but I was impressed.
And lo, life went on.
While I have remained a staunch and steadfast Durannie, so to has sister stayed pure to her boys as well. Faithfully buying CD after CD, keeping up with the Wahlbergs, Knights, McIntyres and Woods. Through their personal problems, through marriages, divorces, children. Through attempts to stay in the public eye, through small scandals, through rain, sleet, hail and...well, you get the picture.
One thing I've noticed with a LOT of bands from the late 80s, early 90s...to stay in the groove, many of them dropped into the mainstream, attempting to "keep up", to be "hip" to the musical changes evolving. They veered away from what had made them who and what they were faster than light. And many failed because of this. I can say with total impunity, even my boys did it and quickly realized the error before going back to the sound and look that made them so popular, but with a contemporary twist which showed they COULD blend past with present and STILL make an impact.
But this isn't about my guys.
Fast forward to July 13, 2013. The Honda Center, Anaheim, California. Sister had begged me months ago to attend "The Package Tour", with her. Boys II Men, 98 Degrees and...New Kids on the Block. I didn't want to go on the premise that I was too "old" for concerts now, that it would be crowded, loud, hot, annoying, etc. But I caved in and after four months of moaning, bitching, whining and plotting, the day was upon us and I was out of time.
I dutifully switched out my pj bottoms and tee shirt for something a bit more concert-y. I even wore make up and did my hair. I was doing it for baby sister, to see her smile and laugh because she has done both for me countless times. I felt like a sacrificial lamb heading to slaughter because all I wanted to do on a Saturday night was stay in, drink Dr. Pepper and get my Facebook on while working on edits, my next book, a short story and research.
Boyz II Men opened up with a bang and about 10,000 women had a wave of orgasms. They looked good, they sounded great. My interest level perked a bit as I huddled in my seat, Tweeting my ass off. I was not that "into" them back in the day, but I know I wish I had been. They made an impression.
A slight break and 98 Degrees came bouncing out. Another 12,000 women got squishy in their lady parts and when Nick Lachey took off his top, many, many ovaries exploded. They, too, looked and sounded phenomenal, but again, I was never a HUGE fan. The closest I came to 98 degrees was when I bought my Pontiac Grand Am and the salesmen waiting on me got a phone call from his wife who was the sister in law of the Lachey boy's step sister. Woot woot.
Once 98 degrees left the stage, the arena went dark and...
That's when the magic REALLY began.
In a flurry of animated neon lights, laser beams of bright and epic proportions...there they were. And from note one, they literally reached out and grabbed each of us there and took us along on a journey of sound, sight, energy, passion and excitement. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride had NOTHING on these guys. They sang, they danced, they talked, they wowed and they captivated an entire audience of both males and females for two full hours. Even I was dancing and screaming, waving my hands around like a totally besotted psycho, singing my heart out. You had to! Couldn't be helped. For the moment they hit the stage, you were drawn in and you didn't WANT it to end.
They grew up and in the growing, didn't lose that secular sound or power they had 25 years ago. Back then, it was raw, a newborn struggling to breathe and live, trying to carve its niche. Last night, I saw 5 "boys" had grown into the epitome of Renaissance Men and it was fucking gorgeous. Maturity has tempered not just their sound and looks but lent a honing edge to the lethal blade of awesome they all wielded last night. There were SO many memorable moments (Donny Wahlberg and Jonathan Knight were contenders in the "ripped abs and smexy chest" category. Meeeee--yowww!; Danny Wood breakdancing and Jordan Knight with his "Jordan" cam POV at one point!) but the one that made me really sit up and get a squishy in my heart was when Joey McIntyre brought his little boy, Griffin, on stage and let him participate as the band sang one of their best songs, "Tonight". Adorable and any ovaries that HADN'T exploded before then, certainly did after.
Hangin' Tough? After all this time?
And I DEFINITELY like "The Remix", baby.