I haven’t been this sad after a concert since after the last concert I saw in Pennsylvania – it was the last US show of the U2 360 tour last year in Pittsburgh when Larry hugged me on his way to the stage. I was in Hershey this weekend, not Pittsburgh, and Jordan didn’t hug me, but I was so close to him that my neck hurt from looking up at him and my legs were quivering from being so close to him. NKOTB’s performance at the MixTape Festival Friday night August 17th was absolutely amazing! That is the most excited I’ve been since that fateful night last year in Pittsburgh.
I had been excited for months for this first annual MixTape Festival at Hershey Park. It was a pop festival featuring performances by Kelly Clarkson, The Wanted, LL Cool J, DJ Paully D, 98 Degrees, NKOTBSB and NKOTB! The whole reason I went was obviously for New Kids on the Block (NKOTB). There were playing Friday night and again Saturday night with the Back Street Boys (NKOTBSB). Although I’m not a fan of the Back Street Boys, it was cool to see NKOTB two nights in a row!
I left my house around 10:15am Friday morning for the 98 mile drive up to Hershey, PA. My friend Abbey, who I’ve known since the U2 Elevation tour in 2001 and who was also standing next to me when Larry hugged me last year in Pittsburgh, was meeting me at the hotel with her friend Sarah – who got us all tickets for the MixTape festival through the NKOTB fan club. Two hours later, I arrived at the Days Inn Hershey (a great hotel if you’re going to Hershey Park), but our room wasn’t ready quite yet. I waited in the lobby for about a half hour and then was able to check in, and that was when Abbey and Sarah arrived.
Abbey and I took the free hotel shuttle over to Hershey Stadium around 3pm. We got in the GA line and at 3:45 was inside one person back from the rail behind the VIP section. We noticed that there were five platforms (let’s call them blocks) spaced along the rail on the VIP side. We quickly realized 5 blocks for 5 New Kids. We knew that NKOTB performs one song in the middle of the audience. I mentioned to Abbey that it would be great if they opened the show out here in front of us, rather than on the main stage. We stood behind the center block. Even though we were one person back, we were so close that we could reach out and touch it. Luckily for me, I am tall and the person in front of me was not. Minutes after we had secured our spot at the center block, it started to rain and then downpour – and it continued to drizzle the rest of the night.
The first performance on our stage was Aaron Carter at 5:25pm. Because of the rain, his set was cut short to only three songs. He was really good though – very entertaining. He is the younger brother of Nick Carter from the Back Street Boys. Next up was a frightening band called Steel Panther. They were an 80s hair band parody, at least I hope they were a parody. Their lyrics were a little raunchy, especially since there were young girls in the audience. DJ Paully D, from Jershey Shore fame, was up next. I have to admit that I was a little excited. It was a fist pumping good time, and when Paully left the stage he screamed, “Cabs heeeer!”
At 8:45pm, it was finally time for NKOTB! I was so excited! I hadn’t seen them in two years – since the opening of the No Casino Tour in Vegas. The screens came down and the thunderous pound of the video starting scared me to death. After the retrospective video, I saw NKOTB riding through the stadium on a what looked like a golf cart. I was right, they were starting the show on those five blocks – right in front of us! It was so exciting watching them run in. Unfortunately Jordan ran past us to the block on the right. Donnie got on the block right in front of us. They opened with One Song. Towards the end of the song, all five of the New Kids were directly in front of us on the center block. Unfortunately Jordan and Joey were facing the other way toward the VIP, but Jon, Donnie and Danny were facing us. They were all wearing Adidas track suits. Jordan’s and Joey’s were blue with matching blue sun glasses while Jon’s, Donnie’s and Danny’s were red.
At the end of the first song, they all started to get off of the block – except for Jordan! At that moment, I felt a big push like I was riding a wave and I ended up in front of Abbey (who had been standing next to me) and completely squishing the girl in front of me who was luckily really short. I was even closer to Jordan now. Then Jordan (and the rest of them) took off his track suits and was wearing a white tank and white pants. I was taking video and pictures and my legs were quivering – I was so excited! Abbey said Jordan was posing for me. NKOTB performed Summertime while Jordan was in front of me – not that I remember. All I remember is my neck hurting from looking up at Jordan because he was close, reaching out for him to touch me (which he didn’t) and my legs shaking. It was quite an amazing 3 minutes!
At the end of Summertime, Jordan left and Joey came to our block while NKOTB performed Dirty Dancing. I let Abbey get in front of me, so she could see – besides Jordan had already left for another block. After Dirty Dancing, NKOTB went to the main stage to perform to the anxious VIPers who I’m sure were none too happy that the lowly GAers got a close up performance for the first three songs.
Friday was Donnie’s birthday, so Jordan, Joey, Danny, Jon, and the audience sang Happy Birthday. And then out of nowhere Jon started singing NKOTB’s version of Happy Birthday! It was great because Jon never sings and is very shy on stage. He stopped after the first verse and Donnie told him to keep singing “it’s the same lyrics.” And even Jordan tried to help him, hiding behind him singing. Then a girl from the audience gave Donnie a birthday present, some sort of giant chocolate bar from Hershey’s Chocolate World.
A while later, I think it was Jordan who said something like let’s go back out there to perform this “they’re VIP too!” So back they came – right in front of us. Unfortunately, Jordan did not come back to our center block, but he was on the one to the left of us. Joey was in front of us while they performed Tonight. But it turned out to be great that Joey was in front of us because his wife brought their little son Griffin up on the block with Joey. And together they sang. It couldn’t have been any cuter! Then NKOTB returned to the main stage for the rest of the show.
At the end of the show, 98 Degrees joined NKOTB on stage during Hangin Tough. I got to see Nick Lachey and Jordan Knight standing next to each other. Sigh! As they were saying goodnight, Donnie told everyone to go watch Kelly Clarkson’s performance because they had a surprise for us. So at 10pm we went to the other end of the stadium to watch Kelly Clarkson, who was very good. About a half hour into her set, Joey McIntyre walks out and they sing an amazing duet together. We left after that and caught the shuttle back to the hotel. We were back by 11pm, but I didn’t fall sleep until after 3am. I was just too excited and kept replaying the show in my head, especially those first three songs.
That NKOTB show was absolutely amazing! It was so good. Although they didn’t perform my favorite Single, they did perform my favorite Step By Step. It was a great show of New Kids’ oldies – very different from the shows I saw in Vegas on the No-Casino Tour two years ago. The NKOTB set list for Friday August 17th was as follows: One Song, Summertime, Dirty Dancing, The Right Stuff, Didn’t I Blow Your Mind, Valentine Girl, If You Go Away, Please Don’t Go Girl, Step By Step, Cover Girl, Happy Birthday, Tonight, I’ll Be Loving You Forever, Hangin Tough.
After just three hours of sleep, free hotel breakfast bar and watching The Karate Kid in our room, Abbey and I took the hotel shuttle over to Hershey Park around noon on Saturday for Day 2 of the MixTape Festival. We decided to wait at the entrance where the bands arrive. We saw Jordan walk up the stairs to the stage. Then we watched NKOTB and BSB rehearse. Luckily the stage was high enough that we could see them when they were out on the platform extension of the stage. They rehearsed Single, so I was very happy. After their rehearsal, Danny ran by and waved to us, but he didn’t stop. A few of the guys from Back Street Boys came out and shouted to us. Around 1:30 we walked over to Chocolate World for lunch, to get out of the sun, and sit down and rest. We were back at the band entrance by 3:00, but nothing was really going on except I did catch a glimpse of Jordan walking by.
Around 4:00, we went in, bought a tee shirt and sat in the shade at the soundboard. Nothing could top the previous night, so we didn’t even try to be up front. Also, the platform extension of the stage wasn’t as close to the GA section were the previous nights ‘blocks.’ At 5:00pm, the Dan Band performed. They were a funny, entertaining cover band. Next up was The Wanted, who were really good. They are a British Boy band with a hot bassist named Max. We left our comfy spot in the shade and moved as close as we could for LL Cool J. He was great – and hot! I had seen him once before a few years ago at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis. The audience was very into it and so was Donnie, who was jumping up and down back stage. LL put on a very entertaining show. He was throwing towels out to the girls like Elvis threw scarves. He also threw out some roses and gave away a laptop to a guy in the audience. LL brought two girls up on stage – at two different times. He seemed like a really nice guy. Nice and hot – go figure!
At 9pm, it was time for the main event – NKOTBSB! They opened with Single! Now I’ve seen three different versions of Single. I saw the regular album version in Memphis in 2009, the acoustic version in Vegas in 2010, and now the NKOTBSB version. Besides Single and the songs they did with Back Street Boys, NKOTB played the same songs as the previous night. But this time they wore black instead of white. They again came out into the audience for Tonight. Both The Wanted and 98 Degrees joined New Kids on the Block and Back Street Boys on stage – 4 boy bands on 1 stage! It was a great show, but I’m not a Back Street Boys fan so I was kind of bored every other 2 songs when BSB performed. It was great to see NKOTB two nights in a row though! I listened to Single on repeat the entire 98-mile drive home Saturday night.
Click here for all 119 photos of my weekend at the MixTape Festival.