Her mom made her take her sister to that weeknight concert in the late '80s, some boy band out of Boston.
Kristen Anderson was 16, still in high school and playing viola in a professional orchestra that toured Europe.
New Kids on the Block?
She’d heard of them, but living in little Enid, Oklahoma, they weren’t getting much play on local radio.
“They were on Nickelodeon and Disney a lot,” Anderson says. “But I was a teenager, I wasn’t watching that.”
Her 12-year-old sister was, though, and Mom didn’t want to make the 90-minute drive to Oklahoma City and sit through two hours of girls screaming.
So the job fell to big sister.
“The minute they took the stage, I found myself falling down the rabbit hole,” says the 45-year-old Lancaster County employee.
She’s still happily falling.
And looking ahead to Saturday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“I’m so glad New Kids are finally here. When I found out, it made my year.”
In the years before the band broke her heart by breaking up in 1992, Anderson had scouted out concerts, cajoling her sister to be her seatmate. She plastered her bedroom walls with posters of the five-member band. (Along with posters of Husker football players and Michael Jackson.)
And when the New Kids (now pushing 50 and not so new) got back together 10 years ago, she leapt right back on the bandwagon.
The first concert she saw after their reunion was in Omaha. (Lady Gaga was the opener.)
She’s been on a NKOTB-hosted cruise. (Motion sick as soon as they departed Miami, but who cares?)
She’s swooned through four NKOTB concerts in four days in Las Vegas with her best friend, Jodi Baetsle, a fellow Blockhead from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (“We were such nerds. We scheduled naps during the day so we could stay up for the concert.”)
She and Baetsle have road-tripped the region, making multiple trips to Chicago, Des Moines, Iowa; Kansas City, Missouri; and Wichita, Kansas, to see their all-time favorite musicians.
She has a NKOTB shrine in her home office — confetti from concerts, a coffee mug, a NKOTB doll, various NKOTB trinkets. (“Small and age-appropriate.”)
When she’s not cooking up a concert trip, New Kids on the Block is always on Anderson’s playlist.
Not everyone understands.
“Some former co-workers took me aside and told me ‘Quit playing the New Kids Christmas album, it’s August.’”
The Blockhead did not take offense.
“You know, a lot of people tell me I need to be embarrassed by this. I’m a professional woman. I deal with so much every day, this is just my happy place.”
Anderson is long past the infatuation of those early days, when she was enthralled with those cute new boy faces.
Now, it’s about the camaraderie of being part of a loyal fan base and the friendships that come along with it.
And, of course, those magical moments in a darkened arena, when the grown-up boys come strolling out dressed in white (or matching Celtics jerseys).
“You forget about your daily life problems,” she says. “You can relax, have fun and act silly for two hours.”
Her husband still remembers the day the band announced it was reuniting.
“It was probably one of the best days of her life,” Eric Anderson says.
He’d known of her obsession since their first date years earlier, when she’d laid out a list of requirements. (There were 40 total; a top 20 and a second tier.)
Among the most important:
He had to like cats.
He had to be good to her family (and be close to his own).
He had to accept her devotion to a then-defunct band.
“I told him, ‘I’m a fan girl. There’s this group New Kids on the Block and if they ever get back together …’”
Not his kind of music, says the former Husker right tackle. (His wife calls him “a big, alpha male.”)
The alpha male has grown to appreciate her devotion.
“One thing about Kristen is when she’s passionate about something, she is not halfway passionate. When she’s in, she’s all-in. Honestly, it’s a cool thing about her; she doesn’t care what people think.”
The husband has yet to see a NKOTB concert, but that will change Saturday.
The Blockhead in his life bought tickets to the Lincoln concert as a surprise for Eric and his best friend, for her mom, her sister and her niece.
Eric Anderson is keeping an open mind. (“She really wanted me to experience it once.”)
They will not be having the New Kids experience together, he says. (“I’m hoping to see the stage.”)
The NKOTB fan girl for life and her best friend will be much, much closer.
“Front row-center, because that’s how it works,” Kristen Anderson says. “Once you go VIP, it’s hard to go back.”