Crowd gives Avril Lavigne big, wet one

Every generation has a hero, and this one seems to idolize Avril Lavigne–the neck-tie wearing, skateboarding Canadian teenager whose plaintive songs have struck a chord with teenagers. Of course in kid years, a generation only lasts a couple years tops. But judging by her debut album, “Let Go,” and the strength of her live performances, Lavigne appears to have the talent and tenacity to mature as an artist who will continue to win fans regardless of her core following growing up.

Aaron Carter has finesse and a cheap trick

Aaron Carter is 14 years old, looks like a carbon copy of his big brother Nick of the Backstreet Boys and works the crowd with the savvy and finesse of a Vegas showman. That’s a dangerous combination when you’ve got an arena full of young girls who are hopped up on sugar and adrenaline. But guess what? This kid delivers. Give him a couple more years to pick better songs that cater to his rock ‘n’ roll sensibilities and there’s the potential for a career beyond the kid-pop phase.

The Backstreet Boys at the Allstate Arena

There was a little of everything at the Backstreet Boys’ concert Monday night at the Allstate Arena, from pyrotechnics to druids to ballerinas. But for the youngsters who filled the venue to capacity, all that could have disappeared, and they still would have been happy just to see–and, I guess, hear–Nick Carter, Brian Littrell, Kevin Richardson, A.J. McLean and Howie Dorough do what they do.

The Backstreet Boys Tuesday night at the Allstate Arena

Sure, its easy to make fun of the Backstreet Boys–especially if youre over the age of 17. But when things click just so–as they did Tuesday night at the Allstate Arena–the Backstreet Boys prove that they are the kings of the boy bands. At last year’s concert at the New World Music Theatre, the five-man group from Orlando, Fla., appeared dwarfed by the enormodome and was plagued by off-key harmonies.

Backstreet Boys at New World Music Theatre

Here are a few factoids I picked up at the Backstreet Boys concert Saturday night at the New World Music Theatre in Tinley Park: Nick Carter, the youngest (18), tallest (6-foot-1) and blondest of the five Boys, is the most popular. The Backstreet Boys say “Wassup?!” a lot. They are the male equivalent of the Spice Girls: young, good-looking and blandly appealing as singers.