Although boy bands are making a resurgence thanks to groups like One Direction, The Vamps and Union J (weirdly, all British bands), nothing spells being a 90s baby like knowing the feeling of being in love with a boy band (sometimes the entire band). Yes, we were the age of Boyz II Men, ‘N SYNC, the Backstreet Boys, Blackstreet, 98 Degrees, LFO… and I could continue. Man, I’ve been singing “I’ll Make Love to You” before I realized what making love was. Of all the bands I’ve listed, though, every 90s baby girl (with a 2% margin of error) listened to the Backstreet Boys and ‘N SYNC (sorry 98 Degrees). There were friendships made and broken with the incorrect answer of the question “Which do you like better ‘N SYNC or BSB?” Of course, this sometimes really boiled down to ‘Are you a Justin Timberlake or a Nick Carter kinda girl?”
I had a preference for the Backstreet Boys. It had nothing to do with musical quality, the rad dance moves that have been left in the 90s, or even the song preference count. My judgment was based on the fact I had a crush on four out of five of the members (Nick, Brian, AJ (was always my favourite) and Kevin) while I was only able to muster two out of five for those ‘N SYNC guys (Justin and JC (who I think was still a better singer than Justin but that’s a rant for another blog).
So, all things considered, while I politely studied for my final exam (having missed their concert at the O2 arena in April), I watched a double decker bus drive by announcing that the Barclaycard British Summertime Festive would feature the Backstreet Boys, I was very excited. For the disclaimer, although I told everyone who would listen to me that I was going to see Backstreet Boys, they were not the headliner of the concert. They were a special guest of McBusted (Okay, at first I was very lost as to who this group was… but now I know it is McFly (I was a fan of McFly) and Busted joining as a “Supergroup”) and two other bands performed, Scouting for Girls (I never heard of this Indie band before but I’m definitely a fan now – I’m actually listening to them as I write this) and The Vamps (for anyone as into teeny bop pop music as I am, I definitely knew who they were). There was also a dance segment with Diversity (click on the link, they are amazing). What this essentially means is that everything started at 2:45 (and I was early, because… why not?) and the Backstreet Boys didn’t hit the stage until 6:30.
Before, I get to the rediscovery of my childhood bit, I must talk about how amazingly well Hyde Park was done up for this festival. I’ve not actually been to Hyde Park when something else wasn’t going on. The last time I visited was to attend the Winter Wonderland. Thus, in my head Hyde Park is this lovely, magical place of lights, beer, carnival rides and the erection of lovely building fronts to give it a village-like feel. I might just avoid Hyde Park for the rest of my time here so that that is the feeling which remains. I didn’t take many photos because I actually wanted to see Diversity and arrived very close to the 2:45 start time, but there were many building fronts made to look like the odd pub on the High Street, there were palm trees (the effect of which was great as it was an amazing, sunshiney day (at least it started out that way), a several amusement rides. I was also impressed by the immense diversity of food stalls, although in retrospect London does street food very well. Though my mouth watered at the thought of paella, burgers, hot dogs, Italian pasta, pizza and jerked food, I restrained myself and grabbed a Heineken from the first “pub” I came across. Heineken is never my first preference for beer but as they were a sponsor of the Festival, they were everywhere. I was very impressed by the plastic bottle (yea, I know… I am very easily impressed).
As it were, as soon as I reached the stage area, I realised very quickly that there would be a major generational thing happening. There were too many fourteen and unders there to even know who the Backstreet Boys were much less come prepared to belt out each song with no regard for possible hoarseness. This is where, I guess, The Vamps came in. There were just as many parents who seemed to want to be anywhere else (one woman sat on the grass the entire time. How she didn’t get kicked in the head, I don’t know.) and many fathers who came just to be the shoulders upon which their daughters sat in order glimpse their favourite band. I wanted to get as close to the stage as possible, so as overwhelmed as I was by the sheer amount of teeny boppers, I silently hoped that they’d all clear out by the time The Vamps were done. It turned out, it was not that easy. I had to push my way through (yes, I’m not proud of it) to get as close as I got. I still didn’t get as close to the stage as I wanted to and my heart broke a bit when three girls standing in front of me didn’t even know one word to ‘I Want It That Way’.
I was worried about having to stand for over four hours before the BSB came on but I mostly had fun waiting.
As I mentioned before, Scouting for Girls were really good and they had great stage presence. Before I knew it I was screaming, “Posh girls got good manners, but they go like the clappers. Because they never got to hang around BOYS AT SCHOOL” with everyone else. To date, I still have no real clue what it means to ‘go like the clappers‘. I must admit, it doesn’t really seem like a good thing.
The Vamps were also okay. They did provide a very good contrast when the Backstreet Boys came on. It showed just how much the boy band scene has changed. I give lots of credit to their lead singer, Brad Simpson – he knew how to work a stage. I was quite impressed when they covered both The Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside‘ and Jason Derulo’s ‘Trumpets‘. I hope they fare better than The Wanted.
Despite enjoying the bands’ performances, I found myself constantly checking to see how much time had passed and how much time remained before the band I really came to see graced the stage. I hadn’t been that excited since the last book of the Vampire Academy series was released and I set my alarm to wake up at midnight (when it was meant to be delivered to my Kindle) only to find out that Amazon operated on a different time zone.
Eventually despite the aching legs and back, the pushing, the smokers who seriously figured it was good to light up in such a tight space with no regard for how packed we were and that some people (me) could be asthmatic, the time arrived.
I’m not ashamed to admit I screamed the way I should scream at horror flicks when they cut quickly from ‘Everybody‘ (the song I thought they would start with) into ‘The Call‘ which holds the title of my favourite BSB song of all time. I swear, the entire cost of the ticket was worth it just for that number. And the trip down memory lane kept coming, ‘Drowning‘, ‘Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely’, ‘I Want it That Way‘, ‘Everybody’ and it goes on. They also did a couple songs from their new album ‘In a World Like This‘ which made me happy. Yes, they are still around. Even though the day started off with the promise of permanent sunshine it started to rain. It didn’t drizzle lightly or even rain lightly – nope, it poured and it was freezing. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to care. I danced in the rain. I continued singing a long. And, I continued screaming. At the end of their set about an hour and a half later, I was able to say that I now have a crush on all five of those Backstreet Boys (or should I say men?)… Howie aged so well, I heard lots of whispers that went along the lines of ‘was he an original member?’. At this point I was tired (or so I thought) and decided to not stick around for McBusted but I wanted to hit up the food stalls before I left.
However, as I waited in the line for a burger, I heard something. The words ‘Carnival’ and the strains of proper, proper Caribbean soca. I made the quickest beeline out of the queue and headed to the stage where there were some DJ’s playing Soca and Dancehall music. For another forty five minutes I danced in the rain (including, Palancing [seriously watch the video]). Hell, I almost Palanced my way to an asthma attack. Those forty five minutes hit all the right spots and soothed away the antsy homesickness I’ve begun to feel as of late. There, in the middle of Hyde Park and in the London rain, I danced like Caribbean girl. The kicker of the entire event was when the DJ abruptly playing music and asked the crowd if we believed in love. Before anyone could really answer, the handed the microphone to a man who’d danced with his girlfriend near the front for the entire night. And, yes… he went down on one knee (figured it would be up on Youtube by now and I was right. For anyone wondering, I was behind that big ass speaker :D). She cried and said yes. The entire crowed ‘awwed’. Then, the DJ played Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love’ while they got to have their ‘first engagement dance’ as the crowd sang along… and it was a large crowd. I shudder to think of how it would feel if she’d said no.
As I ate my lovely, extremely, spicy burger I mused that after all that happened, the day would be pretty hard to top. That was until I walked, in the rain, to my bus stop and saw a rainbow. I love rainbows. They fill me with enchantment and hope. So, I took out my phone and risked taking a picture despite the rain. It was definitely an amazing end to the type of day you wrap up and stuff in your pocket to remember during bad days.