(Editor's note: we sent resident Backstreet Boys fan and NUVO intern Rachel Brown to take in the agony and ecstasy of a remounted '90s boy band.)
The Backstreet Boys graced the stage of Klipsch Music Center Friday night much to the excitement of twenty and thirty-somethings all over Indianapolis and the surrounding region. As one of those twenty somethings (and for the sake of nostalgia) I was more than excited to attend the show. Admittedly, I hadn't heard any of the songs on their new album, In A World Like This. Like many of the other fans in the audience, I came with hope of hearing songs from famed albums Millennium and Black and Blue among others. Actually, I went in excited for whatever setlist they'd play. But first, open and teeny popper Avril Lavigne, who was only 17 when her hit album Let Go was released. Her single "Complicated" made her a household name across the world, and more importantly, my house. I was at the, young, impressionable age of 10, I did indeed fall prey to the teen angst and raw (and simple) emotion of Lavigne's songs. So I must say, when she took the stage Friday night the words to most of her songs came back to me. As for the new ones, I can't exactly say the same thing. And neither could many other people in the crowd. While there were a few die-hard fans, most people texted, tweeted or took selfies until she returned to songs like "My Happy Ending" and "Sk8er Boi". Even then, the crowd sat mostly disinterested and bored waiting for the main act. Nonetheless, it was cute to see Lavigne sticking with her girly-gothic style and bouncing around on stage. It definitely took me back to my elementary school days, jamming out with my friends in our living rooms. (I'm also just as glad that those days are in my past.)
On to the main attraction. From the moment their tracks started pulsing through the speakers, The Backstreet Boys did not disappoint. While you may be thinking, "Come on Rachel; get on with it. They're so 2001." You're kind of right. But I'm telling you there was nothing like being able to see your favorite boy band in fine form dance out their famed choreography in unison just a few feet away from you. What's the old saying? Nothing makes a girl squeal more than high pitched voices and synchronized choreography? Yeah, that's it.
I have to admit, I was taken aback when they ran on stage in their suits and launched into their first song. Even with 20 years under their belts, these boys -- now men -- are giving it their all. To make up for this aging situation, they put in extra crowd work. They hammed it up at any chance they got. Between "Everybody" and "The Call" there was plenty of gyrating and hip-thrusting. I was swooning right along with every other grown lady in the audience. Still, 21-year-old Rachel was not as taken by it as 11-year-old Rachel would've been. But just picture it: five men in their mid-30s to early 40s dancing around on stage to choreographed music of the '90s. It was 100 percent designed to evoke the inner adolescent girl in all of us. And it worked. About halfway through the show, the guys sat down to play an acoustic set. In other words, they took a few minutes to catch their breath, because they're not as spry as they used to be. They even admitted this to be true, despite their hopes that they'll keep dancing for 20 more years. That 120 minutes of non stop choreographed dance just isn't as easy as it used to be. They did play a few of their new songs ("Breathe,""Madeleine.") After the acoustic set, they had a huge finish to their show, wrapping up with "I Want It That Way" and "Larger than Life." The crowd went wild (and I went wild), and the roars were deafening.
These boys are working really hard to keep their fan base and thrive off of the fandom that still remains after their prime years. I've gotta say, for now it is working for them. They've clearly got the audience, and they've still got the looks. Keep on keeping on, Backstreet Boys. Meanwhile, I'll be changing over my CDs and cassette tapes into digital files to upload on my phone.