New Kids on the Block at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Concert Season Kicks Off with High Energy Pop Reunion

New Kids On the Block
Paul Wellman

Though they’re all pushing 40, Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood, Jordan and Jonathan Knight, and Donnie Wahlberg spent Friday night proving that the New Kids On The Block are still young enough to break-dance and harmonize their way back into the limelight.

The group’s high-energy show was reflected in the mainly-female crowd that danced and screamed throughout the opening night concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Hundreds flocked to see the group play old favorites, as well as new hits. Many carried with them heart-shaped signs professing their love for band members, while the New Kids tried to prove that they’re all grown up.

Jabbawockeez kicked off the night America’s Best Dance Crew-style, complete with a 10-foot-tall white mask (their trademark symbol) acting as their backdrop. They danced to songs ranging from Sir Mix-A-Lot and Vanilla Ice to Michael Jackson and Beyonce Knowles. But the crowd didn’t truly start to feel it until the lights dimmed and the big screen projectors were fired up.

Much like a soap opera, words appeared on the screens, giving the crowd a brief history of the band from their start in 1984 to the present. The monitors then flashed an “Are you ready?” and the New Kids rose from the stage in a cloud of smoke, kicking straight into “Call It What You Want” from their Step By Step album.

NKOTB started with the classics, but quickly moved into newer songs from their latest album, The Block. Their song “Grown Man” even featured the Pussycat Dolls‘ lead singer, Nicole Scherzinger, projected on the screen behind the singers.

Half-way through the concert, when a fan threw her panties on stage, Wahlberg picked them up and proceeded to unfold the bunched-up bundle to reveal a thong. “I think you lost something,” laughed Wahlberg. “Oh you want me to keep it?” he then quipped to a frenzy of female screams.

“Do you want me to smell it?” asked Wahlberg. Another wave of screams erupted in response. “Okay. Anyone who doesn’t want to see me sniff these should look away on the count of three.” After an elongated count-down, Wahlberg put the underwear up to his nose and inhaled, causing the sea of fans to go crazy. With that, Wahlberg tucked the underwear into his pocket and continued his talk with the crowd.

Throughout the entirety of the concert, fans could be heard yelling “Oh my God, oh my God” and professing their undying love for each member of the group. And while most of the Bowl has seating, the crowd remained standing for almost the entire length of the show.

Ending the set with “Hanging Tough” and part of Queen‘s “We Will Rock You” (while sporting Boston Celtics jerseys), the New Kids undoubtedly broke a couple hearts by night’s end, but promised they would return as part of their summertime tour.

Helen Tracey is an Independent intern.


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