Nickelodeon’s All That Music & More Festival, featuring 98°, Monica, Tatyana Ali, B*Witched, EYC and No Authority at the Allstate Arena

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
August 17, 1999

You’ve heard of a training bra? Well, Nickelodeon’s All That Music & More Festival, which rolled into town Sunday night, was a training concert, starring that red-hot boy band 98°.

Never been to a live show before? No problem. Someone was on  hand to tell the youngsters when to scream, stand up and dance. But the kids didn’t always cooperate.

For instance, during opener Monica’s 35-minute set, one of her backup singers tried to get the audience to stand. After a few encouraging tries, he resorted to this taunt: “All the ugly people sit down.” The children, bless their little bottoms, didn’t fall for it and stubbornly remained seated.

(The kids had already learned Rule No. 1 of concert-going: Don’t stand unless absolutely necessary.)

By the time 98° took the stage at 9:10, they had figured out Rule No. 2: It’s the band’s job to sing, not yours. This was apparent when the lads tried to get the audience to trade verses with them. I’m pretty sure the boy next to me in the Insane Clown Posse shirt sang part of the chorus, but he was definitely in the minority.

Still, the singers are popular enough that on their current album, “98° and Rising,” there is no sign of their last names anywhere. For the record, they’re Justin Jeffre, Jeff Timmons and brothers Drew and Nick Lachey.

Their 45-minute set was an abbreviated version of the performance they gave four months ago at the smaller Rosemont Theatre. To the youngsters, the group members’ emergence from futuristic pods was a way cool entrance. To the rest of us, it brought back memories of “Spinal Tap.”

Dressed in camouflage pants and pseudo umpire vests, 98° looked like a testimonial for “When bad clothes happen to cute boy bands.” But then it hit me that the silly vests really did serve their purpose: to expose the singers’ highly developed biceps and forearms in a non-threatening way.

While 98° are pigeonholed as poster boys for the teen market, the four singers – especially pouty lead singer Nick Lachey (who lives up to his nickname, Bodzilla) – have beautiful voices that make them a guilty pleasure for adults as well.

Whether tackling the jaunty “True to Your Heart,” which is familiar to any parent whose child has the “Mulan” soundtrack, or the lush ballad “I Do (Cherish You),” the singers were earnest and sincere, without resorting to cloying vocal antics.

With four costume changes and a look that was reminiscent of a young Whitney Houston, Monica performed many of her best-known hits, including the lovely ballad “Angel of Mine.” Perhaps best known for “The Boy is Mine” – her duet with Brandy – the young diva teased the audience with the song’s sultry intro, but omitted it from her set.

Former “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” star and current Harvard University coed Tatyana Ali was so personable and perky that you were rooting for her to be better. But with the exception of her ballad “Everytime,” her set was bland.

B*witched was more interesting. Playing a set culled from its self-titled album, the four Irish girls were pleasant in a “Partridge Family” way. Singing to a track, the singers performed their radio hit “C’est La Vie” and previewed “Jessie Hold On,” a Celtic-inspired cut from their new fall release.

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