Memories of my first concert still make me laugh, because I was the typical teenager drooling over the boy bands of the day. For me, that boy band was New Kids on the Block. I thought Joey McIntyre was adorable, but I was immeasurably drawn to the bad boy, Donnie Wahlberg.
My best friend at the time was also a huge NKOTB fan. That is part of what drew us together. She was in love with Jordan Knight, which was good, so that we wouldn’t fight over them. One night, she called me up to say that her father had gotten tickets to the concert up at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, and would I like to go?
My parents finally agreed to let me go, because Jenny’s whole family was going to be there. Detroit is not the kind of place where you let your kids run free, even back then. At the show, parents could watch from the press box while their screaming daughters drooled over the boy band below.
We elected to not make a big deal about where we were going that weekend. By 1990, New Kids on the Block had pretty much run their course. The only people who knew were the twins, who proudly displayed their love of NKOTB all over the place.
We drove up to Detroit that Sunday evening, beside ourselves with anticipation. Our seats were toward the back, on the right side, and up far enough that we had a relatively decent view. The show started, and we were excited about how sexy Jordan looked in his flowing open white button-down shirt. But alas, there was no Joey McIntyre, who was apparently ill.
The boys sang all of their hits, and we sang along with tears and stars in our eyes. We became bigger fans that night, than we had already been. It seemed magical. I bought a t-shirt for my little sister, as well as some other trendy memorabilia to stash in my bedroom.
We found our way back to Jenny’s parents, and eventually got on the road. As we were traveling down I-75, we noticed that the car wasn’t steering properly. We pulled off and had to get towed to a garage with a hotel nearby, as all mechanics were closed. It was a little scary, but we were secretly ecstatic that we were going to miss school the next day. We called my parents from the hotel, who were a little worried, but glad we were safe.
The next day, as the power steering was getting fixed, we wandered around the local Meijer store, which hadn’t yet made its way to Ohio, and seemed so fun. We kept reliving the show over and over again, still giddy with excitement.
The next day, when we returned to school, everyone wanted to know where we had been. Trying to remain “cool” in junior high, we simply told everyone that we had been hanging out in Detroit, when the car broke down. We just neglected to mention that we had been at a New Kids on the Block concert. The twins were jealous, as were a couple of our other friends who had been in the loop.
Flash forward twenty years, and I haven’t been to a boy band, pop concert in over fifteen years. My last big shows were Pearl Jam. My tastes have changed somewhat, though I continued to enjoy breaking out the NKOTB over the years. Imagine my joy during the American Music Awards when I found out that New Kids had teamed up with the Backstreet Boys to form a power boy band: NKOTBSB. Even better was when I saw them performing together on New Years Eve. And then came the Facebook status that brought it all home again.
Another friend from those junior high years heard that NKOTBSB was coming to Columbus in July, and who wanted to go? I couldn’t help myself, and we got tickets. It’s my 34th birthday present to myself, as the show is just a couple of days after my birthday. We have mentioned it to some of our other friends, who may or may not join us. Those twins have been fortunate enough to follow NKOTB and hang out with them, as they have never stopped loving them. Other friends of mine are a little jealous that I am going to dress like I live in the 80s and scream like a fool over these aging men. But I am a nostalgic person, and look forward to semi-reliving that first concert ever.