Oh friends. Sunday night I got to live out the dream every 12- 16yr girl dreamt back in the day. I saw New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men. On the same stage (98 degrees was there too, but they were inconsequential in my book).
If you are under the age of 33 or so, you may as well stop reading. Otherwise, read on about their genius marketing tactics and all of the showy stage tricks that had all of the XX Gen-Xers biting their bottom lips, and my own Wahlberg love.
Their Genius Marketing
New Kids on the Block were huge in the late 80s. I associate them with 1988 and 1989, my sophomore and junior years of high school. At the time, I was a moody girl who lived in black t-shirts, wore my grandmother’s jewelry and laughed at my friends who were NKOTB obsessed. I was so above it all (or I was so self-concious that I couldn’t be the right kind of fan, that I wasn’t going to try…who knows?).
Boys II Men were also huge during my high school career, and I know more of the words to more of their songs because I was the stage manager for the high school talent show. Dudes who wanted to be Boys II Men were cool, dudes who aspired to be New Kids were not. Anyway. I heard a lot of their music. I may have even listened to “Motown Philly” voluntarily a few times. (“Da da, daaa da da, da da da da da da” ~ed.)
Flash forward 25 years. Those high school fans are now in their late 30s, and early forties. Chances are, they have a partner, some offspring, some fur-babies, and maybe a mortgage. They are probably starting to care for their aging parents, they are in leadership roles around the community. They have weathered the past five years of a crappy economy, and wonder if they will ever be able to retire. They are the teachers, the doctors, the lawyers, the judges, the waitresses, and the retail store managers. They are bank tellers, they are executive assistants and they are stay at home moms. They are probably the piece that holds their family together.
How did the New Kids open their show? By saying, “Welcome ladies” and asking that we all take a pledge that was flashing on the screen. A pledge that included…”I promise to have the time of my life……to leave the drama at the door……I deserve this night….I EARNED this night….” Genius, right? The New Kids understood you at 15. Now they understand you at 40. That money for tickets that could have bought groceries? Totally well spent.
The Showy Stage Tricks
Back in the day, I did go to concerts, just not NKOTB concerts. I’ve seen Depeche Mode, I’ve seen the Cure, I’ve seen U2, and I’ve seen Prince. And part of the joy of seeing them live is the show that goes on around the music- the moving stage, the video screens, the pyrotechnics, the costume changes. The New Kids portion of the show did not disappoint. The stage rotated, five pedestals rose from the floor, there was confetti and laser lights and neon hearts for those who had floor seats. They sang, they danced, they gyrated and showed their damn fine abs. It was a spectacle that any Gen Xer could appreciate.
My Wahlberg Love
Like I said, I didn’t give the New Kids the time of day as a teen, I really didn’t. I had posters of Robert Smith (Selena can confirm this) on my wall, not Donnie. As the Wahlberg brothers grew up and went Hollywood, I started to notice them again (read: I started to notice their abs). When I had the opportunity to see this concert, I decided I had to go and see a Wahlberg up close (or from the top balcony, whatever). Here’s the thing- Donnie knows that these throngs of screaming women are mostly there to see him, and he obliges. Not only is he fun to watch without his shirt on, he totally plays into the heart-throb thing. And because the fans are forty, they are just in it to enjoy it too, and probably bow a little. How many 43 yr olds do you know who can put on a two hour concert like that?
If you were a boy band fan, and even if you weren’t, if there’s a reunion tour near you, you may want to check it out. It will bring you back to your youth, to a simpler time when your job was to mostly do your homework and be up on pop culture. You’ll get to see how those boys you grew up with turned out, which is a fun exercise.
Pro tip: If you and your partner have a “free pass” list, and you are pining for a certain member of a band you’re going to see, make sure that band member is on the list. Donnie was frenching audience members on this tour. No fangirl wants to miss out on that!
The Package Tour wrapped up in my town of Indianapolis, on Sunday, August 4th. Donnie was on the set of Blue Bloods, ready to film the new season, on Monday, August 5th. If that doesn’t say rock star, I don’t know what does.
Here’s the finale of the show, when Boys II Men and 98 degrees came out with Super Soakers. This might possibly be the biggest assembly of boy bands this decade has seen.