About five minutes after we got to Bridgestone, we walked past a huddle of paramedics surrounding a girl who had presumably fainted, and was being strapped into a stretcher. Poor girl. But hey, maybe it meant that the show had promise after all. Whole sections of the auditorium were closed off, but the vast majority of the place was seriously packed — with girls (er, women, largely) wearing either sexy summer dresses or New Kids T-shirts new, old and homemade (with puff paint, obvs). We were surprised by how young the vast majority of these women were — most of them looked college-aged.
The opening graphics played on a huge screen like the opening credits to fucking Star Wars, and then both NKOTB and BSB appeared like David Copperfield or Styx onstage. Believe us, friends, the screams were deafening. Our ears rang for hours.
The dynamic between the Backstreet Boys and the New Kids looked like a scene out of West Side Story, with Joey McIntyre's cornball charisma and Nick Carter's Zoolander moves leading their respective packs. They sang a few new songs (we think?), and then Donnie led the New Kids out for “The Right Stuff,” while wearing a Public Enemy T-shirt, because you know he's got to keep it real. We imagined the group of boy-banders forming a circle backstage before the show, looking into each other's eyes, and stage whispering “It's showtime guys,” or “Let's do this,” or “It's on!”
Backstreet performed all their hits, starting with “Larger Than Life.” We're not sure we realized it before, but God, Brian is such a doofus. He tottered around like fucking Buster Keaton, smiling and waving at the audience like he was a clown someone had paid to come to their party. And Nick Carter just looked like an asshole, with most of the energy but none of the charisma of his contemporaries.
The costume changes these guys went through were ridiculous. The went from butch black jeans and wife-beaters to “cool guy” prom clothes, white satin suits, embellished military garb, weird suspenders, and lots and lots of hats (mainly just for the ones who are balding).
Both bands operated under the assumption that time had stopped, but honestly? They sort of pulled it off. We haven't heard an auditorium full of girls screaming that loudly since our last New Kids concert — 20 years ago. And this time the $100 tickets were probably paid for out of these girls' own wallets. It was corny as hell (did we mention that Joey ran downstage and slid on his knees while singing the last notes of “Please Don't Go Girl?” That A.J. threw a glittery rag at the audience after wiping his sweaty brow with it? That they wore matching white Reebok high-tops? That they took turns undressing themselves at various points throughout the night? That all the stripping crescendoed with Donnie ripping his shirt off, Hulk Hogan-style, during “Cover Girl?” That “Raspberry Beret” never sounded more ridiculous than when Nick Carter — a guy with a tribal armband tattoo — sang it while fake-brooding? That they sat on stools, dressed in white suits, surrounded by dry ice and falsetto solos, like the goddamn Bee Gees?), but come on guys, nobody expects the New Kids to be The Beatles. They were entertaining as hell, and they've had most of these girls wrapped around their fingers for 25 years.
Our favorite part? When Donnie led the audience in a chorus from Bel Biv Devoe's “Poison.” At the concert's end (our other favorite part), he took a banner that someone in the crowd had made, and walked off the stage with it wrapped around his shoulders like James Brown, “DONNIE FUCKING WAHLBURG” emblazoned across his back. What a champ.