FLASHBACK: *NSYNC @ Toronto Skydome (2001)

Anyone who knows the real me for any length of time that stretched back to middle school, knows that I was a huge *NSYNC fan. I mean, huge. I saw them three times in concert, which isn’t too bad considering they had only four major tours through the United States (Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now in 1999, No Strings Attached in 2000, Pop Odyssey in 2001 and the Celebrity Tour in 2002). The only tour I missed out on was, sadly, what will most likely be their last tour as a group, the Celebrity Tour, despite my ardent effort to get tickets (see “The *NSYNC & Soluna Disaster” for more info on that debacle).

All three shows were lots of fun, and allow me to relate to the current wave of teen pop that is currently cashing in…very successful, thanks mostly in part to the Disney Corporation. I’ve always had a soft spot for teen pop, and *NSYNC is the main people to thank for that.

However, Pop Odyssey was something very unique in my mind. This was their biggest tour. It’s really almost hard to explain if you weren’t there to experience it live. It was later filmed and released as a home DVD, and even that doesn’t do it justice. The only I can describe it is big. The other two times I had seen *NSYNC live were both at the Pepsi Arena Times Union Arena in Albany, New York. However, for this tour, *NSYNC was too big for paltry arenas. They were playing stadiums.

My mother related the event to when she saw the Beatles live at Shea Stadium when she was a teenager. She was so high up in the stands that the Beatles looked small enough to be actual beatles.

This tour took over 90 buses to set up the stage alone, and is commonly referred to still as the biggest tour in the history of the music business. It featured a large catwalk that cut through the front half of the floor seats to the middle of the floor, allowing the band to dance through the crowd and then perform on a second stage in the middle of the stadium, so everyone had a closer look at them.

The best part was they were premiering music from their upcoming (and probably final) album “Celebrity”, which would come out a few month later. So, you were getting a first look at brand new music that you were clamoring for.

Tickets were impossible to get for this tour. And I should know. I stayed up extra early the day they went on sale to attempt to get tickets in New York. No dice. They sold out so fast.

Then my trusty local radio station offered this cool deal with a bus company, where you’d get good seats to see the tour in Toronto, along with a bus ride up to Toronto. The best part of the deal: they were 12th row seats. You know how exciting that is for a 14 year old *NSNC fan? It’s beyond imagination! I had never ever gotten to see them that close. When I saw the No Strings Attached tour, I was two rows from the very back (and still screamed my head off, still cried, and still hyperventilated that I shared the same air as my idols – so Jonas Brothers fans, don’t think we don’t get you).

There was, however, one catch.

The date of the concert was a school day.

Even worse, it was the day of one of my standardized Math Final Exams. A test I needed to pass to eventually graduate. However, I was in the 8th grade, and at the time, if I had to choose between school and my potential future husband Justin Timberlake, I’m picking the latter.

By some miracle that I don’t think I even understand now, my mother agreed to look in to options so I could still go to the concert. There weren’t very many. I could skip the concert and take the test, or I could skip the test, go to the concert and take the test a month later through a summer school program, after taking a two week mandatory refresher course at a rival school.

I choose the latter.

And I had an amazing time.

The opening acts were Tonya Mitchell and a pre-Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger with Eden’s Crush.

But really, no one goes to a teen pop concert when they are 14 years old to see the opening acts, now do they?

The mere fact that the five men I had idolized for the past three years were literally feet away from me was definitely not lost here. I had actual physical pictures of them where they looked normal-sized, and not just dots in a sea of black.

I was told it was very loud among the screaming throng of girls on the floor. I don’t recall.

Lots of funny things happened that night, the best being Joey Fatone’s flying harness getting stuck, and he had to just sort of hang out for about seven minutes, hovering above us. Justin getting emotionally INTO “Gone” whilst on the catwalk that was a mere six feet from my person will never ever fade from my memory. Neither were those gaudy mechanical bulls during “Space Cowboy”.

The concert embodied to me everything that made *NSYNC such a phenomenon. Fingers crossed they come back to wow us again.

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