Boy band revivals descend on Tacoma
On Friday, July 8, a deluge of resuscitated boy bands descends upon Tacoma. The Monkees, teen idols of the '60s, play the Pantages Theatre, and over at the Tacoma Dome, '80s-'90s superstars New Kids on the Block combine into a new group with the Backstreet Boys. Seattle Times writers Marian Liu and Nicole Brodeur offer girlhood reminiscences about how these bands affected their hearts and musical taste.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Monkees7:30 p.m. Friday at the Pantages Theatre, 901 Broadway, Tacoma; $69-$175 (253-591-5894 or www.broadwaycenter.org).
New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys (NKOTBSB)7:30 p.m. Friday at the Tacoma Dome,
2727 E. D St., Tacoma; $31.50-$91.50 (800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com).
New Kids on the BlockNew Kids on the Block was formed by audition in Boston in the early '80s. The first member was 15-year-old Donnie Wahlberg, whose singing, rapping and dancing skills so impressed impresario Maurice Starr he recruited Wahlberg to choose the rest of the lineup: Danny Wood, falsetto man Jordan Knight, his brother Jonathan, and 12-year-old Joey McIntyre. NKOTB hit big with "Hangin' Tough," thanks to an intense music-video campaign that highlighted the band's visual appeal. The group went on to sell 80 million records, including the hit singles "Please Don't Go Girl," "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)" and "Step By Step." NKOTB disbanded in 1994 and attempts to reunite were unsuccessful until the group hit on the idea of combining forces with the Backstreet Boys.
Backstreet BoysAlso formed by audition, but in Orlando, Fla., in 1993, the Backstreet Boys — A.J. McLean, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough and Nick Carter — took their name from an Orlando flea market and debuted at SeaWorld. After their blockbuster albums "Millennium" and "Black & Blue," the group went on to sell more than 130 millions discs worldwide. Their popular singles include "I Want It That Way," "Larger Than Life," "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)" and "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." The group has had its ups and downs, including the departure of original member Kevin Richardson, a lawsuit against its label and a reunion on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" but has remained more or less intact since its inception.
If life had a soundtrack, the one for my elementary-school years would play only one band: New Kids on the Block.
Fondly called NKOTB, the group was like the Justin Bieber of my generation, except instead of just one idol, there were five to drool over. During recess, we would debate their virtues. Friendships were founded on which one you chose.
I picked curly-haired Joey. I had no real hope of claiming him as mine. I was a dorky kid — braces, big purple glasses, poofy hair and painfully skinny — but he was dream worthy. Plus, it was the '90s and dorky was stylish (slouchy shirts and socks, big side ponytails — the look is making a comeback, so save your judgments.)
My parents were really strict. They reserved all my time for studying to be a doctor, not for concerts on school nights. So they could never understand how left out I felt the day after a show when my friends were all decked out in fluorescent pink NKOTB shirts.
These girls kept singing "Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, the right stuff" through the halls, dancing the moves from the show. I was so jealous; I felt like I missed out on a chunk of my childhood.
So when NKOTB announced they were reuniting back in 2008, you can guess who was first in line for tickets. Sure, it was a good two decades after it really mattered, but we set back the clock. My friend made puffy fluorescent T's with handwritten love letters to Joey. The T's were actually really embarrassing, but they made good souvenirs of a bygone moment. Hair was swept up in side ponytails. And we searched the closets for leggings, big T's and slouchy socks. I added arm socks and she put on leg warmers.
When we arrived at the show, we immediately noticed there were plenty of older ladies who looked just as embarrassing as we did. In fact, there were no teenagers in sight — nor many men, for that matter. Fluorescent T-shirts reigned. One guy even bought a skintight pink one from eBay just for the occasion.
Hair bears were everywhere — cans of hair spray were sacrificed to create the bangs that defied gravity. We searched out all the gangs of women dressed up (it wasn't too hard) and took as many pictures as we could, discussing with them what lengths we went through for the costumes.
I also made sure to buy that NKOTB shirt, a piece of history I was denied as a child.
And while the New Kids were now grown men, with voices and outfits no longer suited for serenading little girls — for one special night, we were no longer women. We were sixth-graders again.
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