through sunshine and rain…baby, we keep on smilin’

The announcement that the New Kids were going to have the honor of playing Fenway Park came in late January. I’m not going to mince words or dance around the truth: had I not been $800 into my cruise payments (or, even so, had I had the option of finding a roommate replacement without jeopardizing the reservation for both of my girls), I probably would have had to think long and hard about cancelling my spot on the cruise just to be at Fenway. Why? Simply because, as excited as I was about the cruise, I felt fairly sure that there will be (at least) one more to come in the future. Fenway, however…not so much. Of the seventeen concerts that have taken place at Fenway Park since the first in 2003, only one artist (Dave Matthews Band) has been honored to play it twice. NKOTBSB? Perhaps, but that’s quite a gamble.

Since not going on the cruise wasn’t an option unless I wanted to lose my $800 and/or cancel the room altogether, thus screwing over both of my roommates, I had to somehow just figure out a way to do both. (Awww, poor me. Poor my checking account, yes, but I’ll get over it.) I managed to find a girl who was selling a pair of field seats at face value. Without even making official plans, I bought them and was able to relax a little – at least that was the seemingly hardest part, already taken care of. As luck would have it, my traveling BH in crime, Dafna, happened to have a chance to head to Boston and NYC for work around the same time, so she was going to try to swing it that she could get a flight earlier than originally planned to see the show with me. Eventually, that plan was not only set in motion, but she managed to work her famous hotel room rate magic, securing us a great room in the heart of Boston for $100/night. (I guess it never hurts to low-ball in a bidding situation. You can always go higher, if necessary, but maybe they’ll give you what you ask for. Seems to work for her, that plan. Anyway…)

The flight, however, was going to be harder to manage. I wasn’t sure how in the world I was going to swing it. I can finally admit that my editors at Spinning Platters, the Bay Area Music blog I’ve been writing for, were trying to get an interview for me with one of the guys, and my fear was that they’d somehow pull it off and I would have decided I couldn’t afford to go. In the end, between saving nearly every penny I had, not going all out splurging in Miami/on the cruise, and the helpful boost of (if you can believe it!) some birthday money, and I had a roundtrip ticket to Boston. I even managed to get a pretty good deal: $309. Sold! I’d basically wanted to visit the city since I was a kid, both because the New Kids are from there, but also because over the years I’d heard so many amazing things about it in general. (Update on the interview possibility: because the tour is so huge, they weren’t really interested in being written up by blogs but by large-scale newspapers & magazines, so they passed. They think, though, that there’s a good chance they can get me an interview either post-tour or at the beginning of the next one. I’ll keep you posted, of course.)

If you want the specifics of my trip itself, start here. Otherwise, let’s talk about the Fenway show…Dafna and I had unsuccessfully managed to meet up with Pearl, the girl who had sold me our tickets, all day. She got in early Saturday, but we had plans to take a Duck Tour, and to further complicate matters, Ground Control had shipped her tickets, but they were never delivered. We couldn’t do much until she found a way to have them reprinted at the box office and then met up with us. We thought the box office opened at 10, but when she went over to the park to check things out and hopefully come away with tickets hours before the show, she texted me to say, unfortunately, they weren’t open yet. So plans changed again. We eventually went to the Fenway area ourselves, bought our Red Sox ponchos at a nearby CVS, and waited outside one of the gates for her, texting her our whereabouts.

Time kept ticking away, I kept texting. Then I called her. Her phone rang, but it went straight to voice mail. We knew doors were opening early (at 5:00pm!) and that the show was starting earlier than ever, too – 6:30. 5:00 came and went, though, and I was still standing outside the park with Dafna, blowing up Pearl’s phone and trying not to freak out. We walked from gate to gate, tried to get a signal to tweet, and watched as the NKOTB Fenway t-shirts sold out right before our very eyes (we couldn’t buy them without getting in. Related: if you or anyone you has Fenway Ts to sell, in any size, please email me. Thanks).

Eventually, Daf went up to the box office and found out the information from them on the seats that were still available for sale. There were plenty of good ones…field seats for $135. We knew that we might have to break down and just buy them, but I was beginning to feel certain that something had happened to Pearl. We’d been talking/tweeting for months, and I just never got the impression from her that she was the kind to screw me over. Furthermore, we eventually went to will call and explained the situation to them. They searched extensively and were able to tell us that she hadn’t picked up or printed her tickets. In short, she just wasn’t there. We stood around on the street a little more as we heard the crowd screaming for what we later discovered was Jordin Sparks (we wondered why there had been no opening act).

Somehow, I got a tweet to go through: a plea to my BH sistas, at Fenway or otherwise, to RT the crap out of me: the girl who’d sold me my tickets had failed to materialize and, while I was afraid something had happened to her, I still needed to somehow get my butt in a seat and not miss the once-in-a-lifetime show. My “twin,” Michelle (we’re not related, but she’s one of my fave BH sistas, a UK BH with whom I share my birthday, down to the year) didn’t disappoint. Within a matter of minutes, my desperate plea for tickets seemed to go viral. It literally took me hours to convince everyone that I no longer needed saving. (Thanks, Chelle. I am forever indebted to you for having my back. This goes to each and every one of you who RT’d my tweet. #bhlove)

Helpless, and yet not quite desperate enough to rationalize buying tickets again, we waited. I texted, I called, I tried to keep both of us from panic. And then, as though nothing had happened, my phone started flooding with text responses from Pearl. It turned out that she’d tried to take the T with her friends, and it was so crazy on the Green Line that she’d been stuck underground for over an hour. I could see her own panic (at nearly missing part of the show, as well as stressing us out) on her face, and when she finally got tickets in her hands from will call, I noticed her hands were shaking. I think she was afraid we’d be mad at her, but we were so damn happy to see her, we could’ve kissed her. I’ve never been so relieved in my entire life to have a ticket in my hand. Then I had to try to get the word out to the BH Twitterverse that I was in, and grateful.

We got in, made an entire lap around the park in search of the now sold-out Fenway Ts, and eventually gave up, somewhat deflated but also elated to be inside.

As it turned out, our seats were also pretty good. We weren’t in the first section of the shaft (there was a section of seats between us and that part of the stage), but we could see most of the stage with both our eyes and our cameras. We were both thrilled. Even better, the show hadn’t started yet, and the weather was still miraculously holding up. By the time Mark was onstage announcing the guys (a surprise to which I was tipped off by readers of this very blog, if you can believe it), we were already nearly giddy:

The Green Monster was decked out for the occasion, and as it was the first time I’d laid eyes on it in person, I stood there for a minute, just staring, memorizing every detail for future reference:

And then it was time for the show to start

They announced that night’s “starting lineup,” calling each guy out to the stage from (I think) behind home plate. We couldn’t see where they came from, but I knew it was somewhere in that general direction.

They took to the stage and the show took off:

At this point, I’m just gonna plan to bombard you with the good pics I have, because really, does anyone not wanna see them? Some are sort of blurry, but I’ve included the best ones, and frankly I don’t care if they’re not stellar because I was there and I remember, and I hope those of you that couldn’t be there will enjoy them anyway. And for the BSB fans, I apologize, I didn’t take many pics of them except for trying to get a decent shot of Nick here & there for Chelle, as well as my friend Laura who couldn’t be there (to whom I promised, many, many years ago, that we’d see Boston together, or not at all…sigh), who are both Joe/Nick girls…

As you’ve probably noticed, all of these so far are of the first outfits. There are several reasons for this, the first being that because the show started so early, it was still light out when they took the stage, so it was easy to get great shots. The second, which isn’t yet obvious, is because it became much more difficult to take any – much less good – pics once the heavens opened up on us. But I digress. Here’s a few more before the downpour…

(Is anyone else dying to know what Joe’s laughing at? I love the look on his face here.)
And then, of course…the flirtation begins…their clothes stayed on a bit longer, but the teasing didn’t take long to start:

(And you can see what I mean about blurry. But, so?)

At this point, I have a confession to make. I’m going to do my best to say this diplomatically and respectfully, because that’s how I mean it and how I’d like it said from the other side, if one of them felt this way: I don’t care much for the Backstreet Boys. I don’t have anything at all against them, and I even was briefly a fan in the late 90s, but I simply outgrew them. I think that Nick’s gotten hot as he’s grown up, and I’ve always thought Brian was adorable, and their harmony can be really nice (especially before they lost the richness with Kevin’s voice), but that’s it. But listen, I tried. I really did give them another chance, after all these years, when they announced this tour. Last year when they came out at RCMH, Daf and I had the same (immediate) reaction: we sat down. It wasn’t negative, we just didn’t have a big emotional reaction or interest in this pairing of two “supergroups” (as I keep hearing it touted). But when the tour was announced, I got to work and downloaded every album I didn’t have. I gave it a shot. And while I can still smile when I hear Nick’s “yeah-ah-ah” or “Quit Playin’ Games” as a whole, or something else that reminds me of a very specific moment or a time in my life, I just don’t feel any emotional connection to them or their music.

Now that I’ve said that, here’s the confession (no, that wasn’t really it): I reacted at Fenway the same way I did at Radio City: when the BSB came out (without the NK, I mean), I sat down. But after doing so for the first two or three times, I started to feel bad. Not for the guys themselves, but for the BSB fans. I really doubt they care, but I do: I don’t want to present myself (or any of us) as negative, mean, unwilling, or unsupportive. I decided, hey, it’s one night – stop being a grumpy bitch and try to enjoy it. All of it. And so I did. I gave it the old “college try,” and did my best to get into the BSB parts of the show too, and you know what? For me obviously not being a fan, it was a pretty good time. I’m not gonna bash them, because they put on a good show and if they can make me enjoy myself, well…I’m impressed. (Then again, I just admitted I consciously decided to be as open-minded as I could, but whatever.)

Now that that’s off my chest, let’s get on with the show! Here are some more pics for you:

(Looks like it’s right at her, doesn’t it? It couldn’t possibly have been, because we were too far back to see, but it’s always fun to get a shot or two like this anyway!)
Then the clothes really did start coming off, little by little…

(Not the best, Chelle & L, but one of several I took just for you two!)
And then fully dressed again for “Please Don’t Go, Girl”

The weather had held up nicely for about the first hour, but as it finally threatened to rain, the BSBs came out in (almost) all white. I thought they were very brave, but I didn’t see anyone having his own wet t-shirt contest, so either I purposely didn’t notice, or they somehow managed to avoid it. Here’s another one I took for Chelle, Laura & the rest of you Nick lovers:

And then, finally, the NKs were in those sort of military-looking MJ-inspired outfits that Dafna didn’t seem to care for but that I love:

And then it was really starting to rain. Donnie had already told the crowd that earthquakes, monsoons, hurricanes, or tornadoes weren’t going to keep them off the stage. Believe me, the crowd felt the same way. I’m not saying this because I love rain, I’m saying it because it’s true: had it not poured on us that night the way it did, I’m certain the memory wouldn’t be quite as epic as it is. Sure, it would’ve been (as I’ve already said) a once-in-a-lifetime concert experience with someone you’ve loved your whole life from a dream venue in their hometown. But would it have been an all-out party, soaked to the bone in the pouring rain? I really don’t think so. Their attitudes were amazing, and we made similar chioces: rather than being bummed or even bothered by it, we chose to celebrate and splash around in it like little kids. They turned the “penis stage” into a giant slip and slide. Thankfully, mercifully, no matter how much they dove and slid around, no one ever seemed to injure himself. Half the fun really was watching how much they and all of us seemed to enjoy every second.

And then the clothes really started to come off. You’d think we were both Donnie girls,

because somehow even Jordan-loving Dafna seemed to get mostly him…


(I kinda need to know what’s happening here between Mr. Knight & Joe, behind Donnie. Anyone else curious?)

(How ’bout now? Wonder what he’s thinking, don’tcha?)

In the downpour, I realized that while I was risking my camera (and my iPhone when my camera battery died & I realized my back-up was in the hotel room), I could actually see the rain in some of my pics, and took a few extras just to try to capture it:

And then…then I turned back to the stage in time to take the two best shots of the night…or should I say, Knight.

(Thank you, sweet baby Jesus, for this picture.)

Daringly, eventually there was another all-white outfit for “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever).” Somehow, I took a decent group shot:

It wasn’t my intention to take a booty shot of JK, I was just working with what he was giving me. And then I had to stop. This is not only my favorite NK song, it’s tied for my favorite song of all time and I put my camera in my pocket to allow myself to be swept up in the beauty of that moment. Many of us know that Jordan, for one reason or another, doesn’t verbally communicate how he feels much. Maybe it’s that he can’t, or doesn’t have the right words at the right time, or that he doesn’t feel comfortable. Whatever it is, I think we all know by now that where he can communicate his emotions is onstage. For me, this song in particular has always been a really amazing thing to behold live, because he seems (to me) to dedicate it to us, and it makes me more emotional every time I see it. I’ll never ever hear it again without being taken back to that moment, because…I’m not a big cryer. But I couldn’t help myself. Jordan has never sounded more beautiful to me, especially on that song, than he did at Fenway Park. I was literally immobilized, swept up in the emotion, with tears streaming down my face. (Rumor has it a few girls think they saw JK crying, too, which is sweet to believe.) I’ll never forget that moment, and I’m grateful for it.

Before long, we knew the show was almost over. I could’ve stayed there all night, listening to anyone sing to me, enjoying the rain and the joy that showered me from head to toe. The encore took place from the Green Monster, and Dafna took a pretty good drenched shot of Jordan from up there:

(Or maybe I did, with her camera? I forget.) And then the Backstreets came out, too:

And then it was over. I’m almost always left wanting more, but for the first time I can remember, I was completely sated. I literally could have died of happiness that night, having explored Boston and seen the New Kids grace a stage at Fenway. We asked someone to take a pic of us, two very happy drowned rats:

And then after one last amazing, rainy shot of the NKOTBSB Monstah:

we regrettably left the park without being able to connect with any of our BH friends, off in search of warm, dry clothes and New England clam chowder.

I can’t say much more about this show than I already have. If I go broke, I’ll still be sure I made the right choice. Some things are just not worth a single regret, ever, and this is one of them. It was literally unforgettable, and a night I’ll cherish until the day I die. It’s just that simple.

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