by Brendan O’Connor
The line to get into the Justin Timberlake show at Hammerstein Ballroom on Thursday was around the block when I arrived at 7:30. Some folks had slept out overnight to be able to stand in the front row. One woman told Justin this during a period of banter with the crowd. “You slept out overnight? To see me?” he asked charmingly, incredulously. “That’s crazy.”
The crowd was overwhelmingly — I estimated at least seventy percent — women, who seemed mostly to be in their twenties and thirties, with a smattering of teens. There were a lot of black cocktail dresses, which fit in nicely with the Big Band Plus Laser Lights aesthetic of the show. The DJ, warming up the crowd before Justin came on, expressed admiration for all of the men in the audience, gamely tagging along with their wives and girlfriends, as if a straight man can’t appreciate an all-around entertainer like Justin Timberlake of his own accord. Hmm.
It really was a show, and not just a concert — more than anything the evening felt like a really big party. A few songs in, a woman threw her panties onstage. “She threw her panties on the stage!” Justin laughed, as if this sort of thing never happens, ha ha, what the heck. He handed the panties delicately to one of his male backup singers, who threw them at the percussionist. Everyone was laughing. (Was the woman who threw her panties onstage laughing? We may never know.) The man knows how to work a crowd
Because my companion and I were designated “VIP MEDIA” — lol okay! — we were permitted access to the VIP area. The VIP area at Hammerstein ballroom, for this show, consisted of the lowest balcony, looking out over the dancefloor. In the VIP area, if you stand in place for a few seconds, people start bringing you food. Over the course of the night, I ate three sliders, two spring rolls, two empanadas, one edamame dumpling, one piece of toast carrying something slightly mushy but still delicious, one half of a chicken popsicle (would not recommend the chicken popsicle), one mini reuben, one small chocolate chip cookie, one lemon pastry thing, one raspberry pastry thing and one cheesecake popsicle that I was worried might have been a chicken popsicle in disguise, but was not, thank goodness.
There were also some celebrities. Laverne Cox was there, for example. “I touched her arm,” Billfold co-founder Logan Sachon told me. “I touched… her arm.” Meredith Viera and Katie Couric were there too. Cox, for the record, is an excellent dancer.
(At one point I thought I saw my thirteen-year-old cousin, and I texted her asking if she was at the concert, and she said yes, but it quickly turned out that she was just kidding, and then she made fun of me for being at a Justin Timberlake concert, so it remains unclear how cool Justin Timberlake is with teens, but then again not only is she really into the Beatles right now but her favorite is Ringo, so maybe she’s a bit off anyway.)
When the show was over we exited the VIP area and were handed bags of stuff. The stuff included a Justin Timberlake poster, a certificate for one thousand American Airlines AAdvantage miles, a pretty decent pair of in-ear headphones, a one-day pass to the American Airlines Admirals Club, and a box of Dermalogica products. “They sell this at Sephora,” Logan said, which I think means that it is good and/or expensive.
We were also invited to make Dermalogica MicroZone treatment appointments; one of the treatments is for Men’s Skin Fitness. “Make shave problems history,” the invitation reads. I wonder, does Justin get razor burn on his neck, too?