Cawley: A Backstreet reality

Two weeks ago, a friend and I decided to be spontaneous 20-somethings for once and camped out overnight in Central Park in New York City.

Not just because. We had a reason. Spontaneous only extends so far.

In the past, I’ve written about my nostalgia for ’90s-era boy bands (and wasn’t really planning on writing about it again so as to not sound so lame), so when the resurgent Backstreet Boys were scheduled to make an appearance on Good Morning America, we decided to make the trip.

I have to say — after traveling to Las Vegas to see their residency last summer and now missing a night of sleep to camp out in Central Park for five hours overnight, I think my desire to see them live has been fulfilled for awhile.

The lead-up always seems like a good idea. Who needs sleep, you tell yourself. After all, it’s only for one night and it’s a chance to see a free concert in New York City.

Then the reality hits.

We arrived and parked in the city just before 2 a.m. and not really knowing where exactly to go, we wandered down a couple of dark streets aimlessly, with us both wondering if we’d make it to the correct portion of Central Park safely.

After getting to the line at 2 a.m., where plenty of other misguided souls were already camped out, we resigned ourselves to a long night.

We were finally let into the park’s concert area, or Rumsey Playfield, at 6 a.m. At this point, the Backstreet Boys aren’t scheduled to appear until 7 a.m. and there’s been no access to a bathroom since we left for the city at 11 p.m. Couple that with no sleep and I’m not feeling my best.

But we were in. And there was no choice but to soldier on. After all, we were promised two and a half hours of free music. What could beat that?

So, it turns out, the two and a half hours is not a bunch of songs, but rather, the same three songs rehearsed two or three times before they’re performed live on the Good Morning America Summer Concert Series segment.

After hearing their new single and two most popular songs, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) and “I want it that way,” for the third time in a two-hour timespan, it gets a little hard to keep up the same level of excitement the show’s producers are expecting from the crowd.

We definitely got a dose of live TV. While there, we were instructed when to clap, including which kind of clapping to do, and even how to hit a giant beach ball around. As a crowd, we were chastised for not rolling the beach ball correctly and had to reshoot that segment.

The most humorous TV production moment came after watching the Backstreet Boys sing and perform during auditions for an hour and a half.

But the moment came: it was now live TV and we were told to act surprised, like we had never seen the group before when they came out for like the 10th time, so as to have mass excitement on camera.

Luckily, the man charged with hyping up the crowd told us that the camera would focus on the audience members who were showing the most excitement. So, I resigned myself and knew what I had to do: show a reduced amount of excitement to avoid appearing on TV.

But aside from the wait game and exhaustion, it turned out to be a cool experience, especially when the cameras stopped rolling and the Backstreet Boys performed an additional two songs for just the crowd in the park who stayed up all night for them.

More Stories In Opinion