It's hard to believe that, just a few years after the peak of the boy band craze, the entire phenomenon already feels like a cultural footnote. In fact, it's hard to decide which way the success of 'N Sync helped propel singer Justin Timberlake into solo stardom, by setting the stage for his breakout ascent, or by giving him something so easy to rebel against.
One thing's for certain: Timberlake's solo career has clearly influenced fellow 'N Sync refugee JC Chasez. If JT's "Justified" offered something unexpected from someone written off as a manufactured idol, JC's willfully weird debut "Schizophrenic" is downright risky.
Considering that Chasez isn't quite as naturally talented as Timberlake, maybe it's no surprise that at the House of Blues Friday, at the earlier of two shows that night , he fell back on a few of the crutches that supported 'N Sync, namely a troupe of dancers, some conspicuously canned backing tracks, costume changes and an emphasis on the choreography over the music. But the music was there, for those who wanted to pay attention, courtesy of a tight five-piece band whose cool robo-funk (and medical scrubs) helped Chasez play out his Prince fantasies.
Beginning with the propulsive synth-driven disco of "All Day Long I Dream About Sex," Chasez sped through most of his debut, taking the occasional break to change outfits and let his four flexible and scantily clad female dancers show off some impressive gyrations. But to Chasez's credit, the energy level in the packed -- and overwhelmingly female -- crowd diminished as soon as he was out of sight, though all it took was the Basement Jaxx collaboration "Shake It," the lascivious "One Night Stand," or the strip-club psychedelia of "Come to Me" to pump them right back up.
Chasez and his dancers matched nearly every track with sexed-up synchronized scenarios, but although Chasez's performance was risque, it was so in a mostly PG-13 way (after all, the singer's mom was in attendance). Chasez seemed to be trying about anything he could to make his shtick stick, but to be fair, there's no reason why most of the songs he sang couldn't be hits, from the ballad "Dear Goodbye" to the Police-esque neo-dancehall of "Everything You Want."
Maybe, after all those years of marketing-driven mega-success, Chasez just feels compelled to work for his stardom. Call it pop idol penitence.
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