Twenty-nine years ago, my friends and I gathered before the big concert sporting our matching New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) T-shirts. Each of us had our own crushes on this five-member boy band.
Standing with the other crazed fans that day, I screamed and I cried (yes, actual tears) when those dreamy teenagers stepped up on that big stage at Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium. It was my first concert, and as a teen in 1989, this was exhilarating for me.
Though I don’t remember much more about that night, I must have loved it, because a year later I went back to the Aud to see them again with my sisters.
As I aged, my love for too-many-people-in-one-place took a nose dive. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point the thought of being in close proximity to so many others, some loud and obnoxious, made me anxious. Add to that the cost to see a band in person at a large venue (only to watch them on a big screen unless you have great seats), and you can pretty much count me out.
Sorry, but I’d rather watch events like these on my own big-screen TV in the comfort of my living room where there is no pushing or shoving or drinks being spilled. I not only save money but my sanity, too. It’s certainly no shocker that I can almost count on one hand the number of concerts I’ve attended since my carefree, teenage years.
So when my sister, Jen, received NKOTB tickets as a Christmas gift from her children and picked me to accompany her, I was conflicted. After all, this was the band we saw together way-back-when, so how could I say no? I worried that my anxiety would rear its ugly head, but in the end, my angst took a back seat to the curiosity of seeing these boys (who are now men) perform on stage once more.
When concert day came, my nieces and nephews were so excited for my sister and me, confident we were going to have a blast, yet I wasn’t completely convinced.
Even when we were escorted to our I-don’t-need-to-watch-the-big-screen-because-we-are-so-close seats, I remained leery. And when the opening band came out, and I saw my sister put her fingers to her ears, I became all the more doubtful. How could this end well?
Once the two opening acts were over and NKOTB emerged, something wonderful happened. My 14-year-old-self appeared, asking to come out and play. And, well, I let her.
Suddenly, it didn’t matter that it was ear-ringing loud. Or that people were a tad too close for my comfort. Or that when I stomped my feet to the beat of the music, spilled drinks splashed up onto my open-toed shoes. My sister and I found ourselves dancing, clapping our hands whenever Donnie Wahlberg told us to, and screaming out the words to the songs we grew up on.
When the show ended at 11:11 p.m. (but who is keeping track), I was amazed at how much fun I had had. Even when people were rude as we tried getting out of the congested parking ramp, I amazingly didn’t allow any of it to bother me that night.
Let me clarify that just because I loved seeing NKOTB 29 years after their first show in Buffalo, this doesn’t mean that I have suddenly turned into a concert groupie.
But I sure do love making memories – and making one more with my sister who had been with me the first time around … well now, that made everything worthwhile.