Gretchen Cathcart
April 30, 2018 1:33 pm
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

Full disclosure: I would pick Backstreet Boys over *NSYNC any day. That being said, I’m head over heels in love with Justin Timberlake. The first time I heard “Cry Me a River,” 8-year-old me suddenly understood all the complicated, mature feelings of love and loss. And on the other side of the spectrum, “Dick in a Box” is still one of my favorite SNL digital shorts (its two sequels, “Motherlover” and “3-Way,” rank pretty high as well). Also, though it was overplayed to oblivion, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” is still a bop.

Considering my feelings for Justin and his varied musical stylings, when Verizon offered to take me to see Justin in concert at The Forum, I was overcome with YES. With their new Verizon Up program, the brand transformed an exciting concert experience into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that would make any true child of the ’90s die.

First, we went to The Tasting Kitchen for a pre-show dinner. It wasn’t just any pre-show dinner, it was a whole JT-inspired affair that focused on his latest album, “Man of the Woods.” Going into the soirée, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was it going to be a cook-your-own-venison-over-an-open-campfire situation? Were we going to have a spot of moonshine while foraging for our own meal? (Fortunately, it didn’t take the theme quite that seriously, but that was probably for the best.) After dinner and drinks in a very on-brand rustic room — shout out to the stuffed pheasant casually perched on the bookshelf — we were chauffeured to the concert in a limo.

Dan Magro

When we arrived at The Forum, we bypassed the crowds and headed to our own section on the floor. It was standing room-only with plenty of space to dance. Finally, the lights went down and all the fangirl dreams I didn’t know I had were about to come true.

Say whatever you want about JT, but that man is a performer. His concert is the type of production that will turn any Backstreet Boys fan because, let me tell you, being within 100 feet of this production was practically a religious experience.

I’m not fully versed in the songs off “Man of the Woods,” but that didn’t affect how much I enjoyed the concert. The setlist was a perfect mix of old and new. The hits that made him an international superstar were all present and well-received from a crowd singing at the top of their lungs. Between dancing and singing, I definitely got my cardio for the day (maybe even the week).

As the final notes of “Can’t Stop the Feeling” rang through the arena — because of course he closed with that — I only felt one twinge of disappointment. That at a concert in the city of celebrities, Los Angeles, we didn’t get a single guest appearance. Especially the one we were all hoping for. Like, at least one member of *NSYNC couldn’t come on stage to fully justify Justin singing the iconic lyrics “It’s gonna be May”? Because let’s be real, what better time is there to sing that on stage than during your April 28th concert in Los Angeles? When it’s *literally* gonna be May. In two days.

So while my Taurus fantasy may have been crushed, I still had an amazing time. If anything, I’m now more in love with Justin Timberlake than I ever thought possible. So excuse me while I listen to his entire discography and watch all of his movies.

To get your own once-in-a-lifetime experience, enroll in the Verizon Up rewards program, here.

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