98° at the Rosemont Theatre

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
April 15, 1999

As long as there are girls, boy bands such as 98°, which performed Tuesday at the Rosemont Theatre, will fare just fine.

And when you think about it, that’s not such a bad thing. Whose concert would you rather have your 12-year-old attend? The one by nice young men in 98°, who sing about eternal love, or a show by wacky Marilyn Manson, who likes to pick fights with Kurt Cobain’s widow?

There’s plenty of time for the kids to rebel against their parents, pierce their body parts and learn to hate anything that’s got a melody. But the years when young girls get to revel in dreamy crushes are growing shorter by the minute.

Like the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync, the four singers in 98° – whose ages range from 22 to 26 – are harmless enough. Their music is romantic and full of hope. And to their predominantly female fans – many of whom probably can’t date yet – they are a few dozen rungs above their gangly male classmates.

These guys are suave, cute and Oxy-free. And while they hint at sexuality with their choreographed pelvic grinds, their hands skim near erogenous zones without actually making any contact.

And when they croon, “I’ve waited so long to say this to you/If you’re asking do I love you this much/I do,” the girls aren’t the only ones affected by the sentiment. Their mothers sigh, trying to remember a time when that promise seemed real.

The band hasn’t reached the type of popularity where it can sell out multiple nights at the larger Rosemont Horizon.

A few hundred seats of the 4,400-capacity hall were empty. But the fans were loud enough to make it seem like a full house.

Except for their suits, their onstage clothes left a lot to be desired. They started the show wearing white jumpers and space alien masks. They whipped those off to reveal even uglier outfits, which can only be described as the love child of an umpire’s vest and, well, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Fortunately, the music was better coordinated. They can sing, especially the brothers Lachey. Nick, 25, is a David Boreanaz look-alike whose well-muscled body belies a voice that reaches angelic heights when he harmonizes with Drew, 22.

The one low point occurred when Drew introduced “Do You Wanna Dance” by teasing a fan named Amanda with the question. The audience held its collective breath as fans waited for him to pull her onstage. Sure, it would have been a cliche. But it would have been more appropriate than leaving the poor fan to ruminate about the case of dance interruptus.

April 15, 1999

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