Small World

'Nuff Said'

You have to know what kind of person you are, and any doubt or shame is only going to ruin your fun in life. Either you're the kind of guy who takes a piece of gum when it's offered, or you're the kind of guy who haughtily declines the gum. I always take the gum, even if it's some random, watermelon-flavored Bubblicious kind of thing that's going to be too sugary and make me feel sick after about five minutes. I take the gum, and I enjoy the five minutes. So I took the free 'N Sync ticket offered by a music writer colleague and didn't look back.

The opening of the band's tour in Portland began with a very young, crazed, singularly female high-pitched roar of audience devotion that was louder and more sustained (about 90 minutes) than any of the ear-busting engines revving up during the last Monster Truck Jam. Yes, a few males were in attendance, but it's the little girls, as they say, who understand. And, when it came right down to it last Sunday night, the 'N Sync boys responded by looking and acting just like a cuddly street gang on Punky Brewster. You know, the kind of street gang whose secretly broken hearts are easily mended by the pure love of a 10-year-old and her dog, forcing them to reform and tell Punky and her friends that "violence is whack" and to stay off drugs.

Before the gang actually showed up, we got a video on a huge screen in which the boys informed us that it's not about fame for them, it's all about the music, and, you know, at da start of da day, they put their pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else. (This was handy for me, because when JC—the really hot one—materialized from the dry ice on stage wearing very tight trousers, I was happy to have been given permission to visualize how he got into them.) So then they came on, they danced, everyone squealed wetly for Justin Timberlake—the one who's been, er, abstaining with Britney Spears—and, eventually, they did a disco version of Christopher Cross' "Sailing," at which point I, too, almost peed myself.

Something's wrong, of course, with these soft plastic boys pretending to be musicians and singing a tribute to the Beatles—a medley that ended with "Hey Jude"—but jeez, if you're going to start thinking about that, well, you shouldn't have taken the gum in the first place.

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