A Popodyssey - In More Ways Than One
"Lindsey!” My friend LK gasped, staring up at the massive stadium just 100 feet ahead of us. “Oh my god, I can't believe this! It's, like, less than an hour 'til the show! We're freakin' standing outside Miller Park about to see THEM! This is so cool!" LK was gushing as we approached the park. She reminded me of a can of soda with a little too much foam - she was already completely bubbling over with excitement. I was just as psyched, if not more, but not as outwardly revealing of it as my friend was.
"Oh my god, look at how hot Lance is in that poster!" LK screamed as we passed a merchandise stand outside the door. "God, I'm going to be seeing him LIVE. Lindsey, I think you're gonna have to help me stay upright." She grabbed my shoulder and threw half of her body weight on me, letting out a barely audible squeal that I don't think was intended for anyone's ears. As she used my arm to pull herself up again, I could feel her body shaking ever so slightly and let out a silent thank you that I had a friend as excited as me to share the experience with.
We walked through the heavy glass doors, through the overcrowded, ear-piercingly loud hall, and onto the top platform of an uncannily long set of stairs that led to the field. LK, my dad, and I stood in awe for a moment of the sheer magnitude of Milwaukee's newest ballpark. It was truly a sight, especially filled with tens of thousands of brightly clad, sign waving kids who didn't really care what team the Milwaukee Brewers would be playing next. Everyone present that night was interested in only one thing: *NSYNC.
"Start your walk down those stairs, girls," my dad prompted. "Our seats are so good, it'll take a while to get there!" Dad takes great pride in accomplishments like getting the best of the best of hard-to-get concert tickets. That and the smile on my face were the only things that motivated him to take me to Milwaukee almost two months before and wait in line for three hours just to secure good seats. It was the kind of thing he did to show his love, though, and I appreciated that more than I could say.
“Lindsey, you didn’t tell me that we were THIS close!” LK shrieked as the usher escorted us to our 28th row, on-the-field chairs. “God, they are going to be, right there, like, really soon!” she gasped, pointing to the elaborate (and amazingly huge) stage that loomed before us. Like, even the speakers are bigger than I thought! God, they’re humongous,” she continued, her thoughts racing even faster than her mouth could vocalize them. “I just can’t believe this.”
Neither could I. It had been over two years since my first *NSYNC concert, and this would be my third overall. Just as their music had evolved immensely since the release of their third album, I as a fan had evolved a great amount, too. I started listening when it was cool to be an *NSYNC fan, when all my friends had the CD and I enjoyed the music so much that I bought myself a copy. I stayed a fan through the group’s ugly court battle with their management and record company, during which everyone was convinced they’d break up and began to lose interest in the group. I was there during the two years that followed in which they didn’t release a new album, and people began to dismiss *NSYNC as one-hit-wonders. My devotedness to being a fan endured the release of No Strings Attached and all the critics who called the group just another singing, dancing, pop machine of a boy band that had no real artistic merit. And I had remained loyal up until this night, through the people who called me “weird” for still liking an “over” group and the ones who labeled me “obsessed” when they found out I waited in line for tickets. Just like the group I was so fond of, I had endured quite a bit of criticism and heard from a fair share of haters to be where I was.
But as the lights went down, the bass went up, and the screaming increased by several decibels, I realized two things. First, I didn’t really care what anyone else said. I was just doing what made me happy, and that was truly all that mattered. Second, most of the 40,000 people sharing the experience with me that night had probably made similar journeys on their way to this show, and I felt a strong sense of unity with them as we bonded through a common taste in music.
As *NSYNC appeared from a small pod in the back of the park, I thought of the tour’s name, Popodyssey, and the bit of double meaning it had taken on that night. Then, as the group belted out the first words of the opening song and started to dance their way onstage, I forgot all about my previous revelations. All I could do was smile, share a wide-eyed scream with LK, and start singing along. After all, I was simply there to experience the sound, sight, and overall energy that is *NSYNC’s dirty pop.