By Rosalia Cefalu–
The lights dim and a robotic female voice counts down, inching you closer to the moment you’ve been waiting for…ten…nine…eight… The spotlight casts his silhouette 30 feet high onto the wall of Madison Square Garden, an image of regality, Justin Timberlake clasps the cufflinks on his white Tom Ford…seven, six, five… His shadow brings light into the hearts of the city. This is it, New York. And you’re ready…four, three, two, one…
Justin Timberlake’s falsetto floods you with dopamine as he slowly rings out the first 30 seconds of his love anthem “Pusher Love Girl”.
Hey little Mama,
Ain’t gotta ask me if I want to.
Just tell me can I get a line,
Roll you up and let it run through my veins.
The band pulls on the harp strings. His voice pulls on your heart strings. Notes tip tap down the spines of 18,000 adoring fans. Pheromones and sound waves fill Madison Square Garden, seeping into the bones of the city that never sleeps.
This is an experience you didn’t even know you needed to feel. Three hours from now you’ll come out on the other side, not only having survived, but feeling fully alive.
Welcome to The 20/20 Experience.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that load of love off my chest -a little background. I’ve seen JT live twenty times (including *NSYNC shows) with a slew coming up still in 2014. I’m a recent winner of the MySpace & The Tennessee Kids Justin Timberlake Photo Contest, and recently fatigued more social media followers than I ever realized I had. So I’m kind of considered an expert in the field. It’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it. This week, I was in the trenches at the VIP section of Justin’s show at MSG. Armed with my Google Glass on head and Justin’s 901 Tequila in my veins, here are 10 (of many) secrets I learned…
10. A Justin Timberlake show is more expensive (and mind-altering) than most black market drugs.
Landing a table in the VIP section of MSG for the Justin Timberlake 20/20 Experience Tour is easily the most expensive night out that an entry-level 20-something outside of Wall Street could have. For $1500, you get a table for two alongside New York’s big-spenders. But the real treat is rubbing elbows with the beat bakers and melody makers of the The Tennessee Kids: Justin’s legendary crew of band and dancers.
9. This ‘Fro has toured with Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake.This is the ‘do of Terry Santiel, percussionist for Justin Timberlake’s band The Tennessee Kids, and national bongo banging legend of the classic 1970s jam “Car Wash” by Rose Royce. After talking to him and letting the groove get in with my hometown-based horns section The Regiment Horns (S/O #boston #617 #FahQ) it became obvious The Tennessee Kids are bringing experience back to music. Both on and off stage in the VIP section.
Despite touring with the aforementioned heavy hitters, Terry is one DTEarth dude who said he still runs on the adrenaline of touring with the best of the best, and “coming out here to talk to you wonderful people.” When I told him I wanted to “make it in da biz” one day and asked him for advice, he simply said, “just be the best.”
8. Justin Timberlake (probably) gave his entire fedora collection to best friend Trace Ayala.
Anybody else notice that around the 2013 VMAs was the last time we saw JT regularly wearing one of his beloved fedoras? Do people know where they went? Have they been wondering? Should they be? Relax folks, I have gotten to the bottom of it. His best friend Trace (if you’ve ever seen a JT documentary or interview, chances are Trace has been in your view before) was my very kind neighbor at the show, and it seems he’s inherited JT’s hand-me-down ‘doras.
Potentially the most adorable moment of the night was when the under-the-weather Justin gave Trace a look that said, “Ay buddy, I’m not completely f-cking this one up, right?” To which Trace responded with a gaze of “Get outta town kid, you’re the king of the hill—top the of the heap.”
Side note: Shout out to Trace who is not only a good dude with a good beard, but is also extremely patient with the infatuated and inebriated JT fans. Drunk on love and Souza 901, I told Trace to thank Justin for making it out tonight because, “You know, some of us forego the costs of therapy and use these shows as medicine instead.”
7. This former America’s Got Talent contestant might just be his biggest, littlest fan.MIGHT. I hate to give up my self-proclaimed Biggest Fan title, but Struckboy Salvatore Romania may be the only other worthy contender in my eyes. JT’s pre-show DJ Freestyle Steve pulled the 4-foot tall Sal up onto the VIP stag and he popped and locked his way to deserved glory. A tear or two of unfiltered emotion glistened as his chest pumped with once-in-a-lifetime pride.
6. Sara Bareilles was fangirling all over the place. And she has the Instagram viddie to prove it.Perez Hilton too, for that matter, but for some reason he was up in the balcony with the rest of the common folk. #Humble.
5. Tennessee Kid dancer Dana Wilson totally wants to make babies with me.
As his collaboration with Drake “Cabaret” staccatoed my hips left and right, I felt a body behind me. At this point I was ripe for the taking and had no qualms with the fingers teasing up my legs, so I played along. Who is this mystery dancer and where have you been all my life? The warm body triple twists around my groove in front of me, and I’m staring straight into the cat-eyed glory of Dana Wilson, Justin’s front-and-center backup dancer. She tugged on my twisting toes with a look in her eyes that was thankfully captured via my Google Glass.
4. I might be a little bisexual.
See above comments.
3. Bros in suits love Justin Timberlake.
3. The Tennessee Kids chat up the audience during the show.
Trumpet player Sean Erick (@SeanEtheTrumpet) was leaning on the stage while JT finished “What Goes Around Comes Around.” I asked him, “Hey — you tired yet?” He looked at me like I either had three heads or was wearing Google Glass and said “Oh, hellll no.” That’s the spirit, boi.
2. JT fans and band members love Google Glass, security personnel do not.
I thought I’d never see another Glass wearer (A.K.A. Glasshole) at a Justin Timberlake show. That I would be the one to show Justin how to love a Glasshole the way they should be loved. But alas, as if enough surprises had not whiplashed my heart into a lovestoned frenzy, I spotted a girl wearing Google Glass alongside me. I decided to forgive her as she was also interested in taking back the night with me. The security guard who told me to take off my “Google Goggles” when the show started, however, clearly was not in on our Glasshole club. It’s a shame, because we really turned it into a club.
1. Justin cut out a number of songs at his New York show, but made up for it.
If this is your 20th Justin Timberlake show, you know the set list by your beating heart. Though we missed “Strawberry Bubblegum” and “True Blood,” I commend JT for his ability to seamlessly perform despite the last minute changes. It’s like someone asking you to perfectly recite the alphabet but to leave out J, F, P, X, M and T. Oh, and don’t f-ck it up, almost 20k people are listening, K?
But he made up for it with a haunting rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” that made me wonder for the first time, could this Bostonian girl find a pinstriped player like Derek Jeter to be a real man? But my hometown pride kicked in, Fah Q, Rosalia! Stick to the Tom Ford suits and that dirty water. But move to New York when JT decides he needs a new member of his social media team. *WINK WINK*
Rosalia is a rapper, writer, tech marketer and advocate for the cyborg revolution who believes in the gift of live music as a remedy for both medicine and religion. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or check out her YouTube page for more Justin Timberlake viddies and goodies.