So, for those of you not keeping track, I was the last PopGurl to see *NSYNC live. I was extremely bitter about that fact. It got ugly, yo. And, to top it off, the bitches (aka *NSYNC) weren’t coming to Seattle! I hated them! With the passion of a hundred thousand fiery suns – I hated them for making me want to see them so badly that I hated them for not coming, for making me consider joining the fan club in case they changed their minds so I could get better seats, for making me curse my perfectly divine life because I was on the wrong side of the fucking country to go with the rest of my gurls, and most of all for making me act like a freaking teenie! I survived the NKOTB invasion with absolutely no interest and no emotional scars, damn it! Why the hell aren’t these boys as easy to, as Justin would say, hate on? Hell if I know. One of life’s greatest unsolved mysteries, I’m afraid.
So, um, as you can see, there was a lot of hate there. And I was pretty much left with no choice but to go to Vegas, a city I have general feelings of animosity towards, by hook or by crook. But, I told myself, I wasn’t spending an exorbitant amount of money I didn’t have just for *NSYNC. Heavens no! I mean, sure, they were going to be there and all, but my gurls were going to be there! And…and they were having a charity function! It was for a good cause! And, wow, a whole weekend of *NSYNC! Could I handle it? Could I?
The more appropriate question, it turns out, would have been: Could I handle their fans?
Now, I am not new to insane fans. I’ve been a Bronzer for how many years? I’ve done the Posting Board Party thing, I know my crazed fan shit. I was standing right there when the crowd surged for Joss, Marc, Nick and Aly. That, however, was nothing. I was in no way, shape or form prepared for *NSYNC fans. There are no words to compare. Oh my god. So this review, oddly enough, is going to be low on the giddy – which there was plenty of, trust me – and perhaps tinged with a bit of sadness. A bit of fear might just show up in there too. Okay, maybe more than a little. They are insane, people. INSANE.
But first, the good. The show. I cannot agree with Melynee more on the punk shot in the opening film, they need to make that a poster. It would so sell. I’d hang it on my wall. And my mom’s. And my sisters’. So the opening film started. And the laughter could not be contained. I couldn’t believe all the little things, all the (to most people) unnecessary details they had come up with. It was very impressive. The trappings for this extravaganza, from the pyrotechnics to the black and white short film that plays throughout “Gone,” to the smallest, minute details (such as making Joey a nerd, replete with cardigan and black-rimmed glasses) redefined extraneous. I was in awe. This vein of thought pretty much carried me through the show. Laughter was mixed with squeals of “Holy shit, are the pyrotechnics really necessary when it’s 100 degrees out?” to more laughter to quiet observation. It’s an interesting experience, seeing The Boys live for the first time. Indeed.
The first thought I had, once they came down to the center stage, was how fucking surreal it was. We see these boys a million times a day, in pictures, media, fan sites, merchandise, every fucking thing imaginable (Except, as Lance has pointed out, bed sheets. Oh, the shame). They are everywhere. And seeing them right there in front of me, that close, ten rows away, it finally sunk in that they were actual people. Now, before you start guffawing, let me explain. I knew they were real people. Honest. I’ve never elevated them to deity status and my feet have remained firmly on the ground. But when you’re talking with a friend about Justin’s hips and the effect they might have on your knees, you don’t really imagine the youngster with a sore, runny nose. Which he had. When you talk about disaffected Lance, you don’t really get that he’s a person who might possibly be terrified of being shot out of the floor night after night until you see the fear clearly etched on his face, nor do you think that he might be a bit tired of singing the same songs over and over again until you see the extreme look of boredom that rests painfully on his face for most of the show. (The boy didn’t come alive until the dancers came out, who, for the record, I found to be rather alarming. Their makeup frightened me. But Lanceypants, he likes the dancers. He joked with them. He smiled. It was odd.) And it ruins the mystique, in a good way. You can accept that they have bad days and good days, that they have the right to wear their hair any goddamn way they please, and that they really should be allowed to enjoy their after-show activities without a bunch of girls stalking them. Obviously, I was pretty much the only girl in Vegas that had that epiphany.
I’m not going to do a long review of the show, the rest of the gurls pretty much covered that. Let’s just say that I did not have the Justin issues they thought I would (probably because I couldn’t see him on the catwalk when he was doing his thang, but we’ll pretend it’s because I’ve matured) and I laughed a lot more than expected. I think I caught poor Amy by surprise during the show, the poor dear would be expecting me to swoon and instead I’d be doubling over with laughter. (Oh, I didn’t laugh the entire show. There were moments of quiet…introspection, shall we say? For instance, in case I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a big fan of the punching. And clapping. Yes, it could be said that I have issues with the punching and clapping in the live version of “Pop.” I like it. A lot. There was no laughter there. Excuse me a moment…) The “Game Over” bit? Once they got past the Mobius 8 debacle, I almost wet the catholic schoolgirl skirt I was wearing. It was that good.
Before anyone shoots off that angry email, I’d like to explain that the laughter is not a bad thing, and I simply can’t stress that enough. It’s my highest form of a compliment. The reason I appreciate The Boys as much as I do, and am willing to take as much shit as I take – y’all should see the birthday greeting that went to my entire department, including managers, for me – is because they make me laugh. And I think they would appreciate that. I don’t take them seriously. I don’t want to follow them around a casino, just to catch a glimpse of them in a “natural” environment. I don’t want to hang outside of a restaurant or a bank of elevators in the hopes that they might walk out. I don’t want to blow them in a private booth at a skanky nightclub. I don’t want to bear their children. Hell, I don’t even want to meet them. I just want to thank them for being a bright spot in a corporate world built on the horribly ill-conceived color scheme of putty.
So, boys, I thank you. You put on a great show. It may be technically asinine and grander than anything ever needs to be (Did you really need part of the screen to come down as a staircase for one song?), but well worth the price of admission. And I fully intend to see you when you hit Seattle. I just wish I could have gotten more into it. It had nothing to do with The Boys – their enthusiasm, even when on the verge of dying of heatstroke, was hard to resist. I couldn’t have done the show in that heat, and kudos to them for pulling it off, even if Joey’s sweat did fly over the audience as he spun around. Which is disturbing, but he’s not to blame, and I’m pretty sure the girls below didn’t really mind. I don’t think he’s the one that scheduled an outside show in Vegas in the middle of the fucking summer. I’m sure even Joey has more common sense than that. No, The Boys are absolved of all blame. It was little things, stupid things, that shouldn’t have affected me, but did. The total and complete lack of traffic control, for one. (There was none. Our car did not move for extended periods of time. Unacceptable. Not in that heat. Especially when you have seven scantily clad women piled into a car designed to hold five comfortably. Sweat pours from places you have never approved it to pour from. Disturbing, man.) Second, I was not feeling the crowd. Your seats can make or break your concert-going experience. And while we had excellent seats, location’s not everything. The company you are forced to keep can be just as much of a deal breaker.
Amy and I were seated on the floor, a row away from the catwalk, on the aisle. We had a nice view, when the bitch two rows in front of us wasn’t trying to get Chris’ fucking attention with some pillowcase that declared that she was from CHICAGO! Yeah, well, I flew from Seattle, bitch, and Amy was out from NY. Put it down. But that wasn’t the worst of it. We also had some scary row-mates. We had, next to us, a woman that kept crowding my space and stealing my seat. I could ignore that, she was pleasantly unthreatening, if a bit drunk. Next to her, however, was a mother and her two daughters that were a little harder to ignore. I would say that her girls were no older than 13 and 15, and that’s being generous. And I swear, honest to god, I think this woman was trying to get her daughters laid. Her daughters had signs with their room number at the MGM on them. During the show their mother waved her sign – with a ferocity rarely seen in the sane world, anytime one of the boys came within range – that declared they’d see them in D.C.! And before the show she almost climbed over me, in a brazen attempt to get to Lonnie.
For those of you who haven’t been to a show, they send the bodyguards out on the floor during the opening acts, ostensibly to pick out women to go up on stage with cameras for “Celebrity.” *ahem* Lonnie would be one of the bodyguards. (Disclaimer: Lonnie is the only one I recognize. And it’s not my fault. Trust me. Everyone freaking knows who Lonnie is.) Most people have picked up on this, and there are quite a few who would probably seriously wound someone for the honor of getting one of those passes snapped around their wrist. And, frighteningly enough, these fans know their bodyguard shit. They know their names, they know their marital status, they have favorites. I’m not making this up. Just take a moment to ponder this, okay? Now, this woman with her two teenage daughters knew the bodyguards. When Lonnie (Justin’s bodyguard – okay, all together now: SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!) did a fly-by of our row, I was on the aisle, dangerously standing between psycho!mom and her goal. She did what she had to do to get in his face, her daughters close behind. I, thankfully and miraculously, still have all of my limbs. I’m not sure about Amy. She and her two daughters charged Lonnie, and dammit, I couldn’t hear them, but whatever they wanted they wanted right-goddamn-then. Her being in his face only drew more attention to Lonnie. Faster than you can say “Danger Wade Robson!” poor Lonnie was surrounded. He’s a big man, but, still, I wouldn’t want to be trapped in the midst of that crowd. Women in varying degrees of undress were pushing out their chests and telling him their sob stories – all for the chance of becoming the next tally mark on the headboard. It was depressing and demeaning and it made me hate myself for about five minutes. Why? Because I was right on the aisle, and I wanted to know why the bodyguards didn’t pick me. Was I not cool enough? Trampy enough? My manners too refined? Should I have tried to molest them? Promised them diamonds and gold?
Please believe me when I say I am over it, completely so, and totally hate myself for having that reaction. I blame the hormones the teenies emit; it’s odd how a crowd can infect you. Because I didn’t care until Lonnie and another guard walked right by me, not even looking at me, in no way registering my existence. It wasn’t even that they weren’t looking at me, it was that they were looking through me. It was the most fucking disturbing feeling I’ve had in a long time, and it totally took me out of the show for the first few songs. I didn’t even want to go on the stage – I’m not exactly an exhibitionist like the girl in the pink tube top that was shaking it for all she was worth – it was just the feeling that I wasn’t good enough. It was degrading. And infuriating. And stupid. I’m sure they get attacked by so many young girls that they just tune people out, and really, you would have to to get through your day, but still. It made me feel really small. I didn’t like it. And I’m still pondering that.
So, besides the psychotic fans next to us and the intense feeling that I was in a meat market, it was a good time. They are actually incredible live. It wasn’t a life changing experience for me like it was for some, but it’s a good time. They are nothing if not creative balls of fucked up energy. Of course, if I ever got the chance to bend their ears, there would be suggestions. Like, say, the bit where Justin works his mojo to create that ball of electricity? Cheesy. Even for him. The aforementioned Mobius 8 could be reworked, if they were really, really attached to it and insisted on keeping the general theme. There are ways, boys, to give yourselves a breather and entertain the audience without horrifying them. I was actually embarrassed for the production. It ends the show on a “What the fuck?” note, when you should be ending on a “Wow, that was fucking incredible” note. And it’s so close. So close… Perhaps in the middle of Mobius’ keyboard solo you could have the Phantom of the Opera go up on stage and kick his ass for trying to steal his flava? No? Okay, how about having PacMan come out and chase his ass through a maze? Still no good? Well, I’ll work on it. In the meantime, you know how to reach me.