N’Sync shows Sobe

Time for a POP quiz.

What is the most powerful four-letter word in the English language?

Here’s a hint: it can a) drum up a crowd of tens of thousands of people willing to be packed into a fenced area like a herd of cattle, b) offer a chance to catch a glimpse of the world’s biggest pop group, and c) guarantee nothing. Give up? The elusive word is free, and many N’Sync fans discovered the ugly truth behind the saying: if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

After having cancelled their summer concert due to a “hurricane” (as N’Sync member J.C. mistakenly put it), the boy band agreed to put on a free South Beach show last Sunday, supporting the relief effort for the September 11 terrorist attacks. A stage was set up on the sand at Ocean Drive and 8th Street, and Ocean Drive was closed off from 5th to 15th Street. Fans were told to arrive early, and gates opened at 10 a.m., though the actual N’Sync concert did not begin until 8 o’clock that night.

Transportation to South Beach could not have been made easier, as N’Sync Concert shuttles departed every ten minutes from the Metro-Rail stop at Government Center. Not only was traffic reduced going into and out of the beach, but the obvious parking hassle was also avoided.

Ocean Drive itself was amazing, as parties spilled out into the street. Since traffic was closed off, restaurants opened seating areas in the middle of the street, accommodating more patrons and contributing to the festive atmosphere.

This also served the principle purpose of having such an event on the beach: to boost the tourism industry that has taken such a plunge since the terrorist attacks of September 11. Adding to the economic boost were the thousands of fans who took advantage of low hotel rates and made a weekend vacation out of their N’Sync experience, which to some served as a disappointing contrast.

Though the stage was on 8th Street, fans were directed to keep walking for seven more blocks until 15th Street, where the “general admission” gate was located. Having made this trek, they would then have to turn around inside the fenced-in concert site and walk in the sand back toward 8th Street, where the stage was located. Along the way, several large screens were “conveniently” placed to be able to view the concert; many crowds were gathered around these, since view of the stage was mostly, if not completely, obstructed.

General admission fans were separated by fence from a large $125 VIP section, making these ticket holders the only ones who really got to see N’Sync. Parked in between sections were police officers on horses, obstructing the view of the stage. The crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder toward the front, and fans were literally building sand piles to stand on to be able to see the screens. The worst part about it is that N’Sync’s true fans, younger kids, could not even catch a glimpse of their pop idols.

The actual quality of the show was good, though paling in comparison to N’Sync’s other performances. A huge American flag served as the backdrop as Justin, J.C., Joey, Lance and Chris came onstage singing “Pop.” The dance moves, as usual, were amazing, but it was obvious the show left a lot to be desired, especially where effort was concerned. A highlight of the performance was a Spanish version of “This I promise you.” After maybe four songs, the band said “Bye, Bye, Bye,” leaving fans who had camped out all day with only 30 minutes in return, from a show they may as well have seen on TV.

All in all, it’s safe to say fans at Sunday’s N’Sync concert got exactly what they paid for.