It’s not 1999.
If it were 1999, going to a Backstreet Boys/Avril Lavigne concert wouldn’t be cool. That would be like going to a Pitbull or Katy Perry or OneRepublic concert today. Basic, uncreative, in poor taste. Totally uncool.
In 1999, it was cool to go to a U2 show. Or an REO Speedwagon revival tour. Or a broadway performance by the cast of Annie Get Your Gun. Or the live-filming of a home movie in the living room of Paul and Denise Jonas.
But now, in 2014, it’s super cool to see a Backstreet Boys/Avril Lavigne concert. Trust me, I know this. Because I did it. And it was the most cool.
The day was June 20, almost three weeks ago. Only now is my head clear enough to recount the event in full.
Due to the rarity and preciousness of such an occasion, I have to assume that what happened that evening was a singular, communal occurrence. Each person experienced the same thing. Everyone’s thoughts and emotions, actions and reactions, were aligned. Because, you know, the power of Avril and the Boys.
For this reason, the running diary you’re about to read, which recaps the events of my June 20th, is written in the second person. These things didn’t just happen to me, they happened to everyone. If you were there, this is what would have happened to you:
5:42 p.m.: You pick your similarly aged cousin up from the train station, and she forgives you for being 12 minutes late. You note her outfit. She’s dressed well, but there’s an unmistakable lack of Avril/Backstreet Boy paraphernalia on her body. Not even thick, dark eyeliner under the eyes. You sigh.
6:00 p.m.: Dinner time. Salad with dressing on the side. Have to lose weight for the concert.
6:30 p.m.: You and your similarly aged cousin meet up with three of your other similarly aged cousins in the parking lot outside the Xfinity Center. The tailgate scene: Thousands of appropriately clad late-20s women, all of whom are tipsily singing along to an exclusive playlist of songs that were released in the 1990s, but are played much more on Pandora ‘90s Hits Radio than they ever were in the actual ‘90s. Also, two dudes playing cornhole.
7:15 p.m.: Everyone files into the venue. You spot a french fry station just north of the completely vacant male restroom. It’s worth emphasizing: This is solely a french fry station. No burgers, no hot dogs, no drinks. Not even a variety of fries. Only plain french fries, served large or extra-large. You purchase $30 worth, because you never know.
7:25 p.m.: You and your four similarly aged cousins take your seats. There’s a man in the row in front of you drinking a large frozen strawberry margarita and dancing, without any music, like no one was
watching able to watch because he’s the only person in the entire world. You make a mental note to monitor this man going forward.
7:40 p.m.: 20 minutes until Avril comes on and at this point, there’s no opening act. Do we live in a world where no one opens for Avril, you frantically wonder. DO WE LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE AVRIL IS THE OPENING ACT?!?!
7:45 p.m.: Sigh of relief. A petite woman is walking onstage to open for Avril. Wait, no, that’s not a petite woman. That’s an 8 year-old boy named Bailey who is (a) an aspiring singer and (b) a relative of an Xfinity Center higher-up.
8:00 p.m.: 15 minutes of pure ecstasy. Bailey hit every note. Michael-in-his-prime type stuff. The audience is bewildered. Strawberry Margarita Man begs for an encore.
8:09 p.m.: Bailey’s encore ends and just as the crowd begins to settle, Avril emerges. She opens with Here’s To Never Growing Up. Predictably clever. Strawberry Margarita Man nods in approval.
8:25 p.m.: Sk8er Boi kills half the audience. Too much screaming/too much crying/too much fandom/too much nostalgia. Thousands of people are dead.
8:40 p.m.: Complicated kills the Sk8er Boi survivors. Everyone is dead.
9:05 p.m.: Avril concludes, prompting a 20-minute respite during which night falls, Backstreet Boys hype videos play, and Strawberry Margarita Man, who has returned to life as a zombie, unceasingly boos the lack of excitement.
9:25 p.m.: Nick Carter comes on stage and silently pouts towards every individual in the audience, missing no one. This goes on for a while.
10:00 p.m.: The Boys try to do their old synchronized dance thing. It’s cute, but it makes you hope you weren’t cheering for that 15 years ago. Zombie Margarita Man digs it.
10:10 p.m.: You become convinced that Kevin Richardson, supposed Backstreet Boys member, is actually Johnny Drama from Entourage. You report your theory to each one of your similarly aged cousins. Their reaction is underwhelming.
10:15 p.m.: Kevin Richardson does the classic backwards head-tilt, eye-squint, mouth-scrounge move. Vintage Drama. You’re sure Zombie Margarita Man would agree with you, if you could just get his attention.
10:35 p.m.: As a result of the Backstreet Boys performing Incomplete, you remember that the song Incomplete exists. This is the best non-Bailey moment of the show.
10:50 p.m.: With curiously little time remaining in the concert, an unimportant, non-Nick Carter/non-Johnny Drama member of the Boys explains the show’s three main rules: (1) go crazy, (2) act 15, (3) scream loudly. You immediately question your performance as an audience member. Did you scream loudly and act 15? Yes. But were you crazy enough? Ugh.
11:00 p.m.: The Boys play some of their new “music” and everything is the worst. This is decidedly uncrazy. They are blatantly disregarding the rules they made a mere 10 minutes prior.
11:15 p.m.: The concert ends with Larger Than Life. You wonder if that’s supposed to mean anything. Then, Zombie Margarita Man points to the sky and cries a singular tear. And it dawns on you. Even larger-than-life things have to return to earth eventually.
It’s not 1999.
But hopping in that time machine for a night was fun.