The announcement of Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Walhberg’s engagement this past week was a sad day for many Blockheads. This is what New Kids on the Block fans call themselves. I’m not a Blockhead (at least not in the NKOTB sense of the word), but I am friends with a couple of them, so I have a working knowledge of this subculture. Blockheads are a little crazy. At one extreme you have women who have pictures of one or more NKOTB members tattooed somewhere on their bodies. I’m sure the women who have Donnie emblazoned on their backs were particularly distraught by this week’s events. My friends exhibit a milder version of craziness – they create bedazzled NKOTB shirts to wear to the concerts and occasionally pay their hard earned money for meet-and-greets with the band and a cabin on the NKOTB cruise.
A few years ago during the NKOTB summer tour, one of my Blockhead friends e-mailed me to ask if I wanted to go to the concert that night, and she dangled the carrot that her (non-Blockhead) husband would also be attending. I spent a few minutes stewing on the e-mail. Part of me wanted to see the spectacle I had heard so much about over the years. Part of me didn’t want to spend the money or time at the end of a long week in the middle of quarter-end. Part of me wondered how her husband was going to survive the show in an arena full of crazy people. Ultimately my desire to see the spectacle for myself won out.
One thing I didn’t realize was what goes on before and after a NKOTB show is almost as important as the show itself. While waiting for the fifth person in our group to arrive for the drive down to Tacoma, my two friends were glued to Twitter, tweeting about the show with other fans and hoping for some tweets from NKOTB themselves. There was also a lot of discussion about plans for after the show – which for the Blockheads in our group would involve a midnight drive north on I-5 to Vancouver for the show there the next night – and hopefully a glimpse of the tour buses somewhere along the drive up.
For me, the most important thing that happened before the show (and maybe the most important thing that happened the whole night) was the tasty pizza dinner we had once we got to Tacoma. A little liquid courage helped as well, never mind that the wine was served in brandy glasses.
We got to the show just in time for the second opening act – Matthew Morrison, better known as Will Schuester from “Glee.” Unfortunately he didn’t sing “Don’t Stop Believin’” or any other songs from Glee. At least I don’t think he did. Honestly, I was pretty distracted by the people watching at this point. I should note here that this was not just a NKOTB show; it was NKOTB AND the Backstreet Boys – NKOTBSB. (Catchy, though not quite as catchy as their next tour, which was called “The Package.”) We were seated directly behind a group of BSB fans who had also created their own concert wear – bedazzled half shirts with fringe. BSB fans are on average about ten years younger than Blockheads, and those ten years made quite a difference in the level of fashion risks each was willing to take.
After Mr. Schue finally shut up, the lights dimmed and it was TIME. The only time I have ever heard female screaming so loud and crazed is from old clips of Beatles’ concerts. The screaming only got louder when the super group rose from the stage.
For the next 2+ hours, we were treated to the bands performing together and the bands performing separately (a nice opportunity for fans of the other band to take a bathroom break). We were also treated to a greatest hits of boy band clichés, including dancing in (mostly) synchronized formation,
Serenading a lucky fan,
And harmonizing in matching white suits.
While I don’t think this is a traditional boy band cliché, the high point of the show was when Donnie Walhberg ripped off his shirt, immediately followed by glitter and confetti explosions and more ear-shattering screams. I think even the BSB fans were excited about that one.
That Jenny McCarthy is one very lucky woman.