There are some things that we don’t understand about our intern Rya. To wit: how is it possible that someone obsessed with “Gossip Girl” can also be a Blockhead? Yes, that’s right -- our "GG" expert is also a huge fan of New Kids on the Block, which explains why she woke up at the crack of dawn this morning:
This morning, Manhattan’s renowned Rockefeller Center became Block-efeller center -- a strip of city blocks packed with grown women who came from all ends of the Earth to witness an event a decade-and-a-half in the making: the triumphant return of the hottest pop group of yesteryear, New Kids on the Block. A month after an older, sleeker incarnation of the five men from Boston was unveiled, another curtain dropped – this time, a banner with the band’s new logo. The band performed a medley of their greatest hits and their newest cut as a part of the “Today” Summer Concert Series.
Naturally, yours truly was on the scene. I was there for the very same reason many other women were in the audience: to see a band that they were far too young to see in concert during their heyday. Quite frankly, I felt all too much like my four-year-old self as I scrambled for a better view (or for that matter, any view), got pushed around my much older fans wearing NKOTB shirts (some threadbare, presumably from being worn in heavy rotation two decades ago), yearned for face time with Joey, and sang along far too loudly to songs I didn’t realize I still knew by heart…
I got to Blockefeller Center at an ungodly 6:00 am. However, the show’s outdoor plaza had long been teeming with Blockheads, evident by all the folding chairs, New Kid blankies, and McDonald’s bags that lined 48th Street. A line of people trying to get into the pit in front of the stage snaked around the block, and the lucky first few were allowed in to watch rehearsal. Rehearsal! As space the pit reached half-capacity, it was only then that fans who began waiting at midnight were being allowed in. They were a full six hours ahead of me. I never had a chance.
At 8:40, the group was set to perform. Every once in a while, the band would start to play, causing grown women to shriek at dog-whistle decibels. I was finally settled into my barricaded section far, far from the stage and becoming acquainted with fellow fans who had traveled from as far away as Virginia and Florida for the historic event. Soon, rehearsals began during commercial breaks, and the excitement mounted as a collective realization dawned on the crowd that ohmygod! this is really happening!
The performance was in a word, majestic -- on par with a very surreal, delicious meal. For appetizers, the Kids served a medley of their greatest hits. The first verse of “Step By Step” turned into the “oooooh-ooohh-oohhh-ooooh-oh!” refrain from “Hangin’ Tough” -- but not before Donnie’s voice cracked as he called out to the audience. Adorable! We love you anyway!
After a quick dance break, the group shed their matching blazers, and they were down to untucked shirts and sneakers. The look was more “with-it real estate broker” than “pop icons with a vengeance.” To stand out as the group’s resident bad boy, Donnie donned a baseball cap. Joey then donned his signature top hat and serenaded with a section from “Please Don’t Go, Girl,” before the group launched into the obviously amazing crowd-pleaser “The Right Stuff.”
After another break, they returned for the main course, their latest single “Summertime.” Quite frankly, had this been an actual meal, I would’ve sent it back to the kitchen -- but I’m afraid of Blockheads, and therefore, that’s all I’ll say about that.
And at long last: dessert! Donnie dedicated this number to “all the fans who weathered the rain” (such cordial words from the man who taught me the importance of fire safety), and Jordan got on the keyboard for a rousing rendition of “Tonight.” On the “Today” show -- get it!? Concept number! Truth be told, I can’t objectively tell you how rousing it was, because I found myself plunged into some kind of estrogen-rich sing-along. Security guards were dancing; the woman standing in front of me announced to the crowd that she was going to leave her boyfriend for Joey; the man standing next to me continuously professed his love for Jordan; and the song became indelibly carved into my brain.
I am still humming “Tonight” as I write this. Thanks, New Kids!!