I got lost in the world of boy bands when I was in late elementary school/ early middle school. It was what all of my friends were into and I was going with the crowd. I quickly learned about Slipknot and started denying any affection I felt to *NSYNC or Backstreet Boys (although *NSYNC was clearly the better band). I quickly got lost in a world of metal music and aggression and tried to suppress my love for pop music. It worked for years but, as I’ve grown older I’ve realized that there is absolutely no shame in liking good music. A smile stretched across my face as I made the trek from my car to Xcel last night. I was ready to see Justin Timberlake and enjoy it for all it was.
Kicking the night off after some spinning from DJ Freestyle Steve was 23 year old Francesco Yates. The audience was flooding in throughout Francesco’s short and sweet set but that didn’t stop him from giving a set of a lifetime. Although it was clear that people were anxiously awaiting Justin’s appearance on stage, Francesco’s music rang through the arena and had people on their feet. The chatter around me all seemed to be the same. Everyone was wondering who the hell this kid was until he jumped into his hit song “Sugar” (okay, I get that this is actually a Robin Schulz song but Francesco did the vocals whereas Robin was the DJ so we can go ahead and call it Francesco’s) and that’s when everything made sense. His soft yet powerful voice is something that many singers can only envy and, at only 23 years old, it’s clear that this kid has a very bright future ahead of him. Hell, he’s already opening for Justin Timberlake and he has yet to release a full album.
After Francesco’s quick set, DJ Freestyle Steve came back up and treated the audience to a couple more tracks before he was shuffled off stage and the lights went dark. One by one Justin Timberlake’s band took the stage to deafening screams. Then a bright light came from behind the stage and the one and only Justin emerged. The deafening screams turned into whatever you would consider more than deafening and I found myself screaming until my lungs gave out with the rest of them. It was the kind of entrance that gave you goosebumps and almost made you tear up just because of the immense joy that seemed to be taking over you. Justin wasted no time and jumped right into “Filthy” from his new album (and namesake for the tour) ‘Man of the Woods’. Like his new stuff or not, this track was a powerful intro. The music made you move your hips and his dance moves were on point. Add the laser light show swirling around the sold out audience and you were left with a striking opening song.
It seemed like nearly the entire floor of the Xcel Energy Center was stage. There was a “main” stage on one end of the stage with paths that lead to a small circular stage in the middle and then another smaller “main” stage on the other side of the floor. There were no jumbotrons in sight, rather fabric looking banners that would appear and disappear from the ceiling and either show live footage or images of night skies and woods depending on the song. I really loved this effect. Although I understand that it may have been a bit difficult for those in the top bowl to see exactly what was going on at all times, it ensured that you were watching the entire show, not just a screen. You’re probably thinking, well why does that matter? Clearly Justin Timberlake was the only one to watch. You’d be wrong.
My favorite part of last night’s banger of a concert was the way that Justin allowed every member of his band to do their own thing and have the spotlight if they wanted it. Sure, my eyes were on my future husband (a girl can dream right?) majority of the night but there were multiple times where I found myself watching his horn players and back-up singers instead. Towards the end of the show, nearly all of the musicians made their way to the smaller “main” stage which had been set up to look like a campfire complete with real fire. Each of the four back-up singers was given a chance to highlight their skills with a short snippit of a song. We heard Fleetwood Mac, Lauryn Hill, The Beatles, and a John Denver song from these uber talented people. It seemed to give the show a whole other side to consider. Not only is Justin Timberlake a truly talented musician, he has found a whole community of uber talented musicians to join him and that’s something that I feel like some superstars completely forget to think about.
Although I didn’t hear any *NSYNC throwback songs, Justin’s set was perfectly curated. Majority of the time he was performing songs that made you want to dance and move but there were multiple moments where he played some of his slower more ballad-like tracks that he does oh so well. Regardless of what he was playing, I don’t think there was a single moment during his set that I or the people around me were sitting down. It was too exciting and there was too much energy in the arena to even think about sitting. I’m not a dancer and never will be but there was no way to stand still and as I bumped and grinded with the strangers next to me, the smile on my face reached the painful point and I have yet to recover.
Years ago I would have never gone to this show. I had an image to uphold and that image was intimidating metal chick that isn’t afraid to throwdown in a pit every once in awhile. Although I still go into pits and still rock the “I got in a fight with a tacklebox” look with all of my piercings, I felt no shame as I stood there and screamed along to every word of “SexyBack”.
As some of my friends said on Facebook when I posted a picture and said I’d go ahead and forfeit my metal head card, good music is good music and Justin Timberlake is good music and a damn good live show.