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'N Sync: 'World's biggest band' delivers the ultimate in stadium sizzle

Friday, August 17, 2001

By Scott Mervis Weekend Editor, Post-Gazette

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 'N Sync made a lot of money last year.

'N Sync band members accept their Choice Single Award for their song "POP" at the Teen Choice Awards 2001 Sunday in Los Angeles. (Lucy Nicholson, Associated Press)

Like a lotta lotta money. They sold 11 million copies of "No Strings Attached" and then went out and racked up more ticket sales than anyone else, grossing $76.4 million. And that doesn't count all the T-shirts, posters and those $28 marionettes.

Add those figures up and subtract out what they pay the cast of thousands behind them, and the boys are still having a blast every time they visit the bank.

With the "PopOdyssey" tour, they give some of it back. Because more than anything else -- they want you back.

They could have blown all that cash on booze and women, like a good hair-metal band from the '70s would do, but being the clean-cut all-American boys that they are, they've invested it back into the mother of all stadium tours.

Pink Floyd, you say? They had some lasers and a flying pig.

U2's "ZooTV"? It looked like an appliance store.

The Rolling Stones? OK, that was a big blow-up doll.

Not to put them in the same league musically, but 'N Sync made all that look like kids stuff.

'N Sync in Pittsburgh

WITH: Christina Milian and Deborah Gibson.

WHEN: Tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Heinz Field, North Side. Click for stadium seating chart.

TICKETS: $29.50 to $65.50; 412-323-1919; box office opens at 10 a.m. at Gate B.

PARKING: Lots open at 2 p.m.; $15.

DOORS: Open at 5:30 p.m. There will be entrances at Gates A, B and C. Those holding floor tickets must enter on the north end zone side of the building at Reedsdale Street and Allegheny Avenue.

PARENT INFO: There will be a kids drop-off on Art Rooney Blvd. There will also be a free parents room in the Coca-Cola Great Hall (entrance on east side of the building).

BYE, BYE, BYE? Show ends at 11 p.m. ('N Sync has been taking the stage at approximately 9:15 p.m.).


They showed up in JC Chasez's hometown of D.C. Monday night, like they do everywhere else, with a silvery metallic layout that looked less like a stage set than an addition built onto RFK Stadium.

There were three giant screens to see them up close, cute and sweaty, and ramps running in every direction, including a people mover across the Redskins turf, on which they gained more yards than Stephen Davis. Their setup had so many different trap doors, tunnels and escape hatches, the crowd on the floor was getting whiplash wondering where they were going to POP up next. The staircase folding out of the screen -- that was practically worth the price of admission.

But the shtick was piled ever higher. There were flying contraptions. A tasteful helping of pyro. Toys to ride around on. Costumes louder than Joey that they changed into while we were entertained by their slick home videos. One of those Velcro walls inspired by David Letterman for "Up Against the Wall." Hot chicks in superhero costumes, and a diabolical wizard taking the controls for "The Game Is Over."

If you looked behind them and squinted, you could even see a band up there.

Rolling Stone recently called them "The Biggest Band in the World," though the idea of 'N Sync being a "boy band," despite it sounding a lot better than "male vocal group," has been a bone of contention, because, of course, bands play instruments and these guys don't. But in concert, anyway, 'N Sync is a live band -- an impressively funky one -- with five front men free to roam around and make the girls scream. If there was a day when 'N Sync stood in a row and did little Motown moves, it's over now. The boys were running wild, going off in one, twos and threes, and then meeting back for the occasional group spin.

Although we say five front men, everyone knows there's only two: Justin Timberlake -- talented, intense and just a little full of himself a la Michael Jackson -- and the more good-natured and, some think, even better-looking Chasez. With their smooth moves, world-class pipes and writing/production skills, both are solo artists waiting to happen.

And then there's Huey, Dewey and Louie on the harmonies in the form of Clarion native Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey "The Italian Stallion" Fatone and Lance Bass, the real goody-goody looking one. (By the way, knowing this much about 'N Sync -- gimme a minute and I'll tell you their zodiac signs -- doesn't come without a little embarrassment.) Anyway, Kirkpatrick and Fatone are both good comic actors and actually have their best moments on the home movies, one with them as goofy ol' cowpokes to introduce "Space Cowboy" and another where, in the style of a silent movie, they try to cheer up a broken-hearted Timberlake (as if).

More on 'N Sync

'N Sync interview: 'We enjoy proving the critics wrong'

'N Sync speaks: The word from JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick


'N Sync has been at this boy-group thing long enough now that they keep the show as perfectly paced as a suburban McDonald's drive-thru (which got a plug, by the way, along with Verizon). They came out at 9:18 p.m., following a brief video history of the group, with the new single "Pop," and then went straight for the hearts of old fans with a medley of "Tearin' Up My Heart," "I Want You Back" and "God Must Have Spent (A Little More Time on You)."

The 18-song set sprinkled in uptempo favorites from "No Strings Attached" at key points, while bunching up songs from the just-released and not-yet-as-warmly received "Celebrity."

One special effect of the D.C. show that we can only hope doesn't happen everywhere is the marriage proposal at the 50-yard line. Justin to Britney? No, not that good. It was one of their longtime roadies to his girlfriend, who complied with a dazed "yes." It was the perfect lead-in to a slower, sappier middle section with the ballads "This I Promise You" and "Gone." But even here, 'N Sync managed to laugh at themselves and deflate the serious mood with a knockout punch from Chris to Justin.

On the occasions when it was possible to peel your eyes from the action and look around at the parents trying to sneak their little kids up on the seats, you could see 'N Sync getting that R-E-S-P-E-C-T that they want so badly. Mom and Dad weren't yawning, they weren't rolling their eyes or even looking at their watches. And these were people who lived through those Floyd and Stones concerts.

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