The New Kids on the Block With TLC and Nelly American Airlines Center, Dallas Thursday, May 14, 2015
You may have noticed a distinct smell in the night air in Dallas last night: slightly burned, slightly crimped hair; Red Bull and vodka and chicken strip burps; and 42-year-old abs. You heard that right: The New Kids on the Block were in town.
Seemingly every mother in Dallas was there to scream-cry-sing at them (one mom towed a 6-year-old with her and had an infant strapped to her boobs), and every boyfriend who had been dragged there (husbands and flings don't get dragged to shit like this) was really hoping they'd at least get to see a Chilli nip slip during the TLC opening set. (Spoiler: it didn't happen.)
Easily 99.8 percent of the American Airlines Center audience were women. To clarify further: They were the most gleeful women alive. The place was packed from floor to ceiling with throwback neon NKOTB shirts and '80s puffy jackets adorned with the New Kids' faces. "I asked my mom to bring my New Kids stuff to me the last time she visited. She found EVERYTHING. Even my Trapper Keeper," a woman in the restroom bragged as she pumped soap onto her hands after pissing. The other women touched her jacket to make sure it was legit.
It was legit.
Everyone so proud of their tribute outfits. Everyone so smiling. And the yoga pants plus comfy T-shirt plus running shoes count in the audience was off the charts. These ladies were serious fans, and they were coming to this show dressed seriously sensibly.
Nelly was the show's opener. He is the musical genius behind such instant classics as "Country Grammar," "Ride Wit Me," "Hot In Herre" and "Air Force Ones" (The best song ever written about shoes. And don't say, "Actually, 'These Boots Are Made for Walking' is the best song about shoes," because you're wrong. "These Boots Are Made for Walking" was about leaving a jerk dude. "Air Force Ones" is strictly about buying many, many pairs of Air Force One Nikes). If you're saying to yourself, "How does Nelly opening for a New Kids on the Block show make any sense?" Go to a karaoke bar ever.
Nelly's performance was more about crowd-hyping than live, technical, musical brilliance. And he did his job. He sang (rapped? lyric-ed? spat melodies?) over a track, but he had fly girls with him and the fly girls made everything fly everywhere in the best possible way. His grill could be heard hitting the mic at various points during "Grillz." If the mark was "make all these 40 year-olds scream," dude hit his mark.
As soon as Nelly left the stage, TLC took it over. There were literally fewer than five minutes between performers. This is how you kick ass at concerting for adults. You want to take it one step farther? Make the expensive seats comfier. You bring a Lazy Boy and a fleece blanket upgrade to this concert equation and you're talking huge profits.
TLC performed (Chilli and T-Boz only; no Left Eye replacement "because there never will be"), and mostly it was hard to know where to look during Left Eye's solos because they just let the track run with nobody on stage taking over those lyrics. But they were wearing glitter suspenders and Chilli was showing midriff, so at least it was as if the '90s never ended.
After TLC's set, it was time for the New Kids on the Block to show up in boxing robes and fight the concept of their previous selves. They did the skippy-side-leg-kicky-crotch-grab dance moves they're expected to do. Other classic NKOTB dance moves that were served up during this performance included but were not limited to: The Group Shuffle, The Fierce Point, Magician's Open Arms-ing Once He Has Completed a Particularly Death-Defying Trick, Confetti, Back-To-Back Singing Holding No Instruments, Group Thrusts, Individual Thrusts, "I'm Not Fucking Thrusting Anymore, Y'all" Thrusts (by Jon Knight only).
It was all very much like a La Bare show, without the stripping.
And then, they started stripping.
They even had a "quick costume change cam" so that the audience could view NKOTB as they changed clothes. Which, based on the screams that ensued, was what we all came here to see.
Speaking of screams, when Joey McIntyre (AKA Abs Spice) paused during his performance of "Please Don't Go Girl" to muse about how he has been performing this song for 27 years, a group scream that started in the young, throwback-ed heart of every audience member at the American Airlines Center filled the stadium, leaked out the doors, bounced off some space shuttles, and continued to rattle the pop universe for at least a good 10 seconds. It was the sound of permanent hearing damage. "Great, I forgot my ear plugs," half of the up-past-their-bedtime audience angry-mumbled.
It was made immediately clear that as long as these performers want to keep performing, they can continue to fill arenas and charge ridiculous amounts of money for neon shirts.
Long live stage humps.
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