NKOTB still has the right stuff – it’s called nostalgia

New Kids on the Block are in the midst of the Total Package Tour with Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men. The tour stops Wednesday, May 31, 2017, at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif.
New Kids on the Block are in the midst of the Total Package Tour with Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men. The tour stops Wednesday, May 31, 2017, at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. Total Package Tour

Technically, Nicole Giordano may be too young to truly appreciate the phenomenon that was New Kids on the Block. After all, she was just 2 years old when the group released its debut album in 1986.

And yet, her room was wallpapered with NKOTB posters. She had (and used) a NKOTB sleeping bag and definitely had their tape on blast in her room most days.

“You could see me and my fellow side ponytails bouncing around the house to ‘Step by Step’ and ‘Hangin’ Tough,’ ” says Giordano, who hosts the after hours show on the radio station 99.3 Now FM.

That puts her well inside the target demographic for the group’s Total Package Tour, which stops Wednesday at the Save Mart Center.

“It’s about nostalgia,” says lead singer Jordan Knight, talking on the phone in advance of the tour, which includes ’90s R&B stars Boyz II Men and the return of pop icon Paula Abdul, who hasn’t toured in 25 years.

“We want to take people back in time,” he says.

Make no mistake, that’s what the fans want, too. It’s the reason that a boy band, one with “kids” right there in its name, can continue to make music after more than 30 years, even though its members are all grown men. It’s the reason 3,000 fans will pay $700 or more to book a cabin on the band’s annual New Kids Cruise.

Yes, NKOTB does a cruise. They party on the top deck every night, Knight says. This year’s cruise kicks off Oct. 19 in New Orleans.

There is a certain bond that forms with fans, especially young ones. That doesn’t go away even as those fans age, Knight says.

“Some new group isn’t going to come steal their hearts. They know and love and trust us,” he says.

That extends to NKOTB’s just-released, five-song EP, “Thankful,” which the band has been performing during its tour. The crowd might not known the words or the dance moves, but they catch on quick, Knight says. It helps that the songs have that distinctive NKOTB sound.

In a way, this is the perfect time for the album and the tour.

This kind of pop-culture callback is trending across pop culture. Television has been full-on embracing nostalgia lately. FOX brought back “X-Files” and the ’90s cult hit “Twin Peaks” just got its own surreal return on Showtime.

ABC just announced the return of “Roseanne” in 2018, following the return of its ’90s hit “Full House,” which was a surprise sensation when it was released – as “Fuller House” – on Netflix on last year. Not so coincidentally, NKOTB made a cameo on season two of the series. The third season of the show airs on Netflix later this year.

Locally, Strummer’s has seen success with its regular ’90s theme nights. There’s often a line of people around the corner waiting to get in. They often comes dressed in ’90s fashions, fitting the theme. The Fresno Grizzlies host at least one ’90s themed promo night each season. This year it was a “Totally Krossed Out” tribute to Kris Kross. The player wore backwards jerseys and the stadium sold Surge soda.

The team does the nostalgia night because they work, says the team’s marketing director, Sam Hansen.

“Gen Y and millenials are parents now,” he says. “And they feel like they should be just as entertained as their kids.”

That’s the bottom line for Giordano, who says you can safely assume the show will be filled with women in their 30s and 40s looking to have a “girls night out” – complete with a pre-concert dirty martini.

“I think it comes down to good ol’ fashion fun,” she says.

“Memory lane can be pure dopamine. So, the chance at seeing these three acts all in one show is a golden opportunity to re-live the running man and roger rabbit. Why not?”

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

New Kids on the Block

Total Package tour with Paul Abdul and Boyz II Men