NKOTBSB – One Night, One Stage, Once in a Life Time – A review #ldnont @jlc

For a shorter version of this review please check out NKOTBSB – A review Cliffnotes Version 

I’m not even sure where to begin with this review. First off thanks to the JLC for hosting the final show of the NKOTBSB summer tour. Second thank you for allowing me, a life long friend and 4 Moms to take in one of the greatest concert experiences possible. It was a great night for many reason, which I will touch on throughout this blog.

I arrived at the JLC around 5:30, went to the box office and picked up my 6 tickets for the show. While waiting for the rest of our group of six and waiting to get into the venue, I became a drowned rat, thanks to the weather. That was okay though, that is what jackets and ponytail holders are for, to make you look less like a drowned rat. It didn’t matter, nothing was going to bring me down, I was going to see NKOTBSB!

Anyways, we headed into the venue about 7:00pm. I made a beeline for the merchandising booths because I have a tradition of buying some memorabilia every time that I go to a concert that I really love. This started with OLP when the JLC hosted them back in 2002. I cannot remember what I bought though, I think I got something, but I am not sure what, a CD? Anyways. I got in line and snuck my way up to the front of the mob. While in the Mob I noticed T-shirts for NEVEREST and Matthew Morrison! WHOA if there were t-shirts for those two, odds were they were the opening acts, which was news to me! I was psyched at the prospect of catching some NEVEREST and seeing me some Mr. Shue! At about 7:15 I finally got to the front of the mob, at which time the sounds of NEVEREST came through the venue. It was 7:15, what the heck the concert as far as I knew started at 7:30. So I quickly made my purchase, my friend Courtney and I, separated from the rest of our group, grabbed some food and then headed to our seats. We managed to catch the last two songs of NEVEREST, one of which I believe was “About Us” I’m not sure what the other one was because, I’m not overly familiar with all of their music. I like it, but haven’t made a point to purchase their album yet.

Neverest is a Pop-Rock Band out of Toronto Ontario. I like their sound, enjoy their songs, but it is nothing I have gotten really into. They are a band for the next generation. I find their music enjoyable, but I probably wouldn’t go to a show they were headlining because odds are I would be surrounded by teenyboppers and children. 

NEVEREST finished their set, thanking the crowd (as polite Canadians do, well actually most musicians regardless of where they are from do) and left the stage. I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get to see their entire act because I do like their sound and I love supporting Canadian talent, but oh well, things happen.

After NEVEREST, just as I suspected, came Matthew Morrison! There was a cute video clip of him and Jane Lynch that was entertaining (I love that woman) and then Matthew Morrison, decked out in a Tux took to the stage and started belting out “Sway” – Buble’s version. He was charismatic and talented just as he is in every television appearance I’ve ever seen. And I’m not sure there was a single person in there not enjoying having Mr. Shue, or rather Matthew Morrison up close and personal, though no sign of his abs anywhere, which was highly disappointing. Matthew Morrison sang several song after “Sway” including the mashup of “Young Teacher” and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” as seen on Glee. Morrison then pulled out his ukulele to perform some of his original material like his first single “Summer Rain”. He continued on with “Gold Digger” (as seen on Glee), during which one of his backup singers got in a good ass grab. He then did a rendition of “Mrs. Robinson”, followed by an original song title “My Name”, a song that speaks to the duality he experiences with Mr. Shue and Matthew Morrison. Morrison then closed with a tribute to the idols he has looked up to, the triple threats, singers/dancers/actors. His three idols growing up were Gene Kelly, Patrick Swayze and Michael Jackson. In tribute to them he sang his song “Don’t Stop Dancing” and he busted out some moves representing each of the three men he admired and some representing himself, the b-boy moves.

During his time on stage Morrison took a poll of the crowd asking, “How many of you are here to see New Kids on the Block?”  A roar came from the crowd. He then asked, “How many of you are here to see the Backstreet Boys?” again a huge roar erupted from the crowd. Then he got a bit self-indulgent and asked “How many of you are here to see Matthew Morrison” and again a huge roar came from the crowd. He gave this shrug as if to say, good, I’m glad, I guess I’ll play you some more songs then and he continued on with his performance.

After Matthew was done it was time for NKOTBSB to take the stage. This was the moment we were all collectively waiting for. Women filled the JLC, with a sprinkling of men throughout, most I think were there hoping that by going to the concert with their female partner they would end up getting lucky. I digress, getting ready to see NKOTBSB was like a return to my youth. I kind of missed the NKOTB era, only really catching the tail the end of it. They were big in 1989 I think it was, so I was 5 and really couldn’t care less about boy bands at that point, but I knew the songs and knew the music, but it wasn’t a part of me the way the BSB catalogue was. I was from the era of BSB, NSYNC and Hanson, those are the boy bands of my life. But going to this concert took me back to my teen years. Looking back now, the music probably isn’t going to go down as ‘classics’ or anything, but it was the music that in a way defined a large chunk of my youth. I remember at the time thinking the videos and performances were amazing. Looking at the BSB’s old videos and clips, I realize that wow, they were really not natural dancers, they were highly choreographed dancers. Their music is probably akin to what Justin Bieber is putting out now a days, but I love it, and hate Bieber, it’s funny what a couple of decades can do to your musical tastes. Still to this day though, I love BSB, and despise anything Bieber.

As the crowd was waiting for NKOTBSB to take the stage the lights dimmed and a video display took screen, introducing each one of the nine guys who form NKOTBSB. I don’t remember what order they were shown in, but I think it went something like Jonathan, Howie, Joey, Brian, Jordan, Nick, Danny, AJ and Donnie, I know Donnie was last because I was waiting and waiting to see his face.

Side note: As a child watching New Kids on the Block, none of them really did anything for me. I never really had a crush on any of them, least of all Donnie. I think it was a mullet and rat-tail that took him off my radar. It is funny though, as an adult after seeing him in movies, on the television and seeing clips of his NKOTBSB performances, I have to say, a lot has changed and I am not alone in this thinking. I am a huge Donnie Wahlberg fan now, and I have a massive crush. Now ladies, tell me I’m wrong, but that is a man, I mean a M-A-N!  Anyways I’ll have more to say about Donnie through this, as I am smitten.

One of my sister’s best friends, Monica,  made an astute comment after the show. As kids we were all about the faces, we like the cute guys, we liked the Nick’s, Brian’s, Jordan’s and Joey’s of the boys bands. As adults though we have grown to appreciate the full package, well maybe more the bodies (as Monica suggested), but we still appreciate the faces too and that is why as grown women, we now swoon at the sight of Donnie Wahlberg. 

The video display ended and the 9 boys – now men rose from a platform on the stage . Everything was dark, but the group was back-lit and the venue exploded into a choir of screams as they made out the silhouettes of the 9 grown up men. The music started and the guys took to the stage for a “Viva La Vida” mash-up. It was “Viva La Vida” mashed up with the New Kids on the Block modern hit “Single” and the Backstreet Boys single “The One”. It was amazing how the songs blended together. I love the instrumentals of “Viva La Vida”, and they surprisingly mashed-up well with both “Single” and “The One”. It was a great opening number that offered something to both sets of fans at the concert, while maybe also giving the men in the crowd a bit of hope that this wasn’t going to be so bad. It gave both NKOTB and BSB fans a glimpse of what they’d come to see and ultimately a reason to scream!

The stage set up was amazing. There was a stage area at the far end of the arena where the band was set up (away from our seats, which while they were in the 300s, away from the stage, were still freaking awesome seats, is there a bad seat in the JLC?) And from the stage area came a catwalk that went to a circular platform near the other end of the arena. Both the stage areas had hydraulic platforms that raised the boys, I mean MEN high above the fans. For the opening number NKOTB took one platform and BSB took the other, I believe BSB was on the stage and NKOTB was on the platform at the end of the catwalk. It was truly an amazing opening number and I think most of the women were in hysterics by the time it ended. I think Brian was a little late coming to the platform, so he had to do a running leap on to it, talk about athleticism of these guys!

From there, BSB left the stage (PS they had really cool ways to get on and off the stage) and NKOTB went into one of their more recent singles “Summertime” – It was a great way to get all parts of the crowd on board before going into the ‘retro’ material that made them the success they are. It was also a reminder that they are not the boys they were, they’ve grown up and become (sexual and sexy) men. After spending Saturday watching old videos it was amazing to see the grown up version relatively up close and personal. Cute little Joey was all grown up, which I knew from Dancing With the Stars, but still it was like seeing the final product. It was also really nice to see all of them with nice hair cuts, because way back when there were some bad decisions on what looked good. NKOTB were in true form, they were singing flawlessly while having silky smooth moves, accentuated with some powerful moves as well.

I think pretty much from the moment that NKOTB stepped on stage most of the women in the venue had the same thing on their mind, Donnie Wahlberg shirtless; the Wahlberg brothers are well-known for their impressive physique, but all in good time.

NKOTB finished Summertime and it sounded like BSB were going to go into “Everybody” which is what everyone figured they’d start with because of the line Backstreet’s back alright but they transitioned into “The Call”, it was a psych out.  It was a great performance, the guys were moving around the stage and the cat walk and putting some moves on display. Honestly BSB have improved their dancing over the years, while it still felt choreographed, they actually appeared to have some swag. The young Backstreet Boys had grown into Backstreet Men and their bodies had matured into the often over sexual moves that often felt corny when they were younger. They finally were sexy and not just trying to be sexy.

The two groups made a great decision with the set list for the show. The two groups alternated back and forth with hits from their past albums. I think this was  great idea because honestly there were (at least) two generations of fans. There were the NKOTB fans, like my sister and her two friends who came to the show with us. They grew up in the NKOTB era, while they knew the BSB songs because they got heavy rotation on the radio, NKOTB was much more a part of their formative years than BSB was. BSB on the other hand was a big part of the growing up process for people my age and younger (my sister and co are 5 years older than me). There are even different groups of BSB fans. There are the ‘older’ fans, like myself, who remember the NKOTB era; we are the people who were there for the first BSB album and have followed them over the years, but maybe trailed off a bit with more recent releases. Then there are the ‘kiddies’, those who really have no understanding of NKOTB and who only vaguely remember BSB the early years or have only heard stories, and who are more fans of the recent albums, which includes the greatest hits. By alternating performances for the most part, NKOTBSB kept concert goers in their seat for fear of missing their act performing one of their hits. It also forced those who weren’t really exposed to one or the other of the groups to immerse themselves in the music and really get to know the other group. This was a great way to potentially expand their audience and garnish some more album purchases and downloads.

After each group had their opening number, NKOTB returned to the stage singing (I believe) “Dirty Dancing”, another one of their newer songs. As I mentioned before I have developed a huge crush on one Mr. Donnie Wahlberg, so my eyes were pretty much glued on his every move. One thing I couldn’t help but notice was his insane athleticism, I first noticed it during this song, but it was evident throughout the show, he was running, jumping, leaping, you name it. He really is quite the physical specimen. It was also during this song we really started to get to see Donnie’s personality. I have grown so used to him as a serious character in film and on television, it was a bit of a departure to see him with such a different personality, he was so playful. In both Rizzoli & Isles and Blue Bloods (as well as a number of films) Donnie has portrayed a fairly serious and tough as nails or bad boy cop/detective. They were both sexy roles, but in that strong subtle way, on stage during the concert, he was sexy in an extremely overt manner. He was all personality, he really truly looked like he loved being up on that stage performing, dancing and singing. Let me say this too, boy can that man move his hips and his pelvis, wow. At one point during the show the camera person did a close up of Donnie doing pelvic thrusts, I think the women in the JLC were about to lose it. Not to take anything a way from the four other guys in NKOTB, but for me personally Donnie stole the show with his moves and his personality. I guess I like bad boys, news to me, but hey for Donnie Wahlberg I’ll compromise!

NKOTB left the stage once again and BSB returned singing one of their earlier songs “Get Down”. This is the first song by the BSB that I really remember, well this and Quit Playing Games. The music video and the dance moves are permanently stamped in my brain. AJ had the same attitude in his performance that I remember so vividly from the attitude he portrayed in the music video. I remember one point in the music video the boys were in a mirror ball essentially, all five were spread out in a circle doing some steps, anyone who knows the BSB and this song and video knows what I am talking about. So when the boys ended up on the circular platform at the end of the catwalk doing those exact moves the crowd cheered. The familiarity of those moves drew the fans in, these were the BSB we knew and loved, they sang the same songs and had the same moves, though maybe they packed a bit more sex appeal now that the boys were men.

Taking BSB’s lead, the NKOTB returned to the stage performing one of their older songs as well, the crowd hushed at first, waiting to hear what they were singing, then that all too familiar opening to “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” rang through the arena. “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” has some pretty iconic dance moves associated with it, well iconic to those of us who grew up watching the videos. Remember the move that I call the “Tick Tock”? It’s the move I associate most with “The Right Stuff”, it looks like the guys are imitating a clock’s pendulum to me, thus I call it the “Tick Tock”. So when the guys broke into “The Right Stuff” I anxiously anticipated seeing four buff grown men busting out the moves they performed as little kids. The song began with Jordan out in front of the four other guys who were behind mic stands busting some of the moves from the video back in the day. The performance went on and we waited and the chorus came and there it was, the “Tick Tock” move during the Oh-oh’s, you know what I am talking about (and if you don’t go visit YouTube and you will). This was a satisfying moment for the crowd I think; I’m pretty sure there would have been sounds of disappointed if those patented moves hadn’t been brought back to life for this performance.

Sidenote – I said this on Twitter the other day, but it bares repeating here. I think it would be hilarious to see Donnie Wahlberg bust out some of these patented NKOTB moves like the “Tick Tock” on an episode of Blue Bloods. I think it would be an excellent juxtaposition to put that into a show where his kids/niece are telling the adults they don’t know how to dance. Just an idea, do you hear me CBS, integrate some of Donnie NKOTB dance moves into an episode of Blue Bloods, it will be highly entertaining and could bring in some new viewers. 

After seeing that NKOTB still had all “The Right Stuff” the audience got to see that the men of BSB were still “Larger Than Life”. Again it was so great to see these guys perform and inject moves that are forever part of the memories of their fans. By this point in the concert, I think it was before this actually, my entire group of 6 ladies, minus one with a fear of heights, was standing and dancing from our seats in the fourth row of the 300s.

It was a really cool experience that way and I will explain why. I went to the concert with basically two groups. I went with my best friend from elementary school, Courtney,  and a friend from high school/baseball, Ashley. We’re all 27 this year and we remember vividly the BSB era. The other three I went with were my sister Alicia and two of her best friends Monica and Cindy; they met in university and all ended up marrying Delta Upsilon (sp?) brothers. Here’s the thing about my sister, as I mentioned before she is five years older than me, well actually 5 and a half years older than me, as are her friends. A lot of the time it feels like my sister and I grew up in different generations. Growing up we were fighting more often than not, the only time we really came together was when we were aligning against our parents. We were so far apart in age that we never really spent a lot of time together, or interacted with each others friends, I mean we knew each others friends, but from my perspective at least, I always felt like an outsider and a kid around her friends and I’m sure she always felt like a chaperone around me and my friends. That is slowly changing as we get older and both move firmly into the ‘adult’ category. We’re still sisters though, we still fight, but I think as the years go on we’re slowly getting to understand each other more and become sisters who are friends. Maybe, maybe not, who knows. Anyways, I’ve really never spent much time around my sister and her friends, other than during the year-long process of her wedding, even then not too much. I love her friends and get a long with them, but I just feel like a kid around them for some reason. So it was really cool to see them at this concert in a different light. Alicia, Monica and Cindy were all up out of their seats, dancing and singing along almost the entire concert. Seeing them positively giddy was new for me, I mean I’ve seen pictures of ‘fun nights’, but I’ve never experienced that with them, it was a unique and new experience. It was cool to see these Mom letting loose and forgetting all of the stresses of their daily lives and just enjoying the moment and reliving their youth. Oh the power of childhood boy bands and reunion tours!

After several high energy pop performances they boys slowed it down with some ballads. First up were NKOTB. They did a trio of ballads: “Didn’t I” followed by “If You Go Away” and “Please Don’t Go Girl”. The ballads were very nice, but also shocking and impressive. How so you ask? Well most of these ballads were originally done before the voices of the NKOTB had fully changed, especially in the case of Joey. So seeing them reach high into their falsetto was both shocking and impressive and it left many of us wondering who got the job of ‘helping’ those guys reach those notes, guys and girls reading this you know what I mean, how do you get a guy’s voice to go up an octave? Ya that’s how.

NKOTB needing some recovery time from their foray into the upper levels of their vocal ranges, gave way to the BSB trio of ballads. BSB started with “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely”, followed by “Ten Thousand Promises”.  That’s only a duo of ballad you are saying, you would be correct. BSB did a bit of a pause and said it was time to add some Canadian Bacon to the show. They began pulling women out of the crowd and placing them on the cat walk on stools that magically appeared. Nick was first, and of course the youngest of all of the men got lucky, he pulled up twins, which I am confident in saying he quiet enjoyed. Following Nick’s lead AJ pulled up a blonde woman, Howie pulled up someone I would argue probably fit better in NKOTB fan base and Brian pulled up a little girl and her Mom (I assume that’s what it was anyways). Each of the guys serenaded their ladies with “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”. Let me tell you, my friend Courtney was about to lose it, she wanted to be the woman AJ was all over, I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have minded replacing the twins, teenage fantasy come true, I mean, what teenage girl didn’t have a crush on Nick Carter? Nick got really into it, I swear at one point he was laying across the twins. AJ was also seductively dancing and grinding around his lady and Brian and Howie were being just as sweet as could be to their subjects.

After the serenade ended and the women left the stage, BSB added two additional ballads, “Drowning” and “Incomplete” during which Nick moved to the drums. I knew Nick had taken up the drums years ago and that with the release of “Incomplete” most of the guys were trying to move from boy band member to true musician/artist. I believe it was this song that Kevin (no longer performing with the group) played piano.

After a long stretch of ballads, it was time to get the women of the JLC screaming once again. The best way to do that? Just take it “Step By Step”. As soon as the opening notes of the song were played, women were up out of their seats, jumping and screaming.  It helped that I’m pretty sure it was Donnie who ran out half way down the catwalk, that will get any woman screaming (part of the reason I lost my voice the next day). Again this was a great throw back performance that was very enjoyable. There was a lot of grinding, pelvic thrusts and booty shaking; at one point there was a tight shot of Donnie’s shaking behind, much to the enjoyment of the female audience.

I’d like to take this opportunity to address the wardrobe for the show. I think I’ve already mentioned Brian’s neon pink high-tops and if I haven’t, they were amazing, I want a pair! You always knew when Brian was on stage and exactly where he was, just look for the shoes. The wardrobe for the show was fantastic. A lot of the wardrobe was black (with the occasional white suit, or army type clothing), but with a lot of rhinestones or sequins or something that was shiny. Donnie and AJ (I believe) both wore a rhinestone skull belt buckle throughout the show and let me tell you because Donnie was wearing it, it got a lot of screen time during close-ups on pelvic thrusts. My other favourite part of the wardrobe were the muscle tanks, and no not wife beaters, but those tanks that you see dancers wearing, they’re cut really nice and fit really well and accentuate all of the right places, yes those; it was heaven to see the likes of Donnie Walhberg and some other in those tanks, beyond heaven to see him out of it too!

Yes it was during “Step by Step” that the moment every woman in that arena was waiting for, Donnie Wahlberg pulled a Hulk Hogan and tore that muscle tank off and the women (myself included) screamed hysterically (what he has a really nice body, something any woman can appreciate). The screaming hysteria was replaced with giggling though when AJ from the BSB added to the final show’s hijinks by coming out from under the catwalk and appearing on the catwalk in a tank and some tighty-whities (well they were probably more booty shorts than tighty-whities, but I wasn’t close enough to make that distinction) During Cover Girl. It was quite entertaining and humourous. I am told that wasn’t the first of the final show hijinks, apparently there had been signs plastered to the backs of some of the performers. What can you say, it was the final show of a summer tour and all bets were off!

AJ left the stage and NKOTB move into “Favourite Girl” (I believe). I can’t say I knew the song well, but I enjoyed it, again even without knowing the songs, the performances made the concert, the energy, athleticism and talent of these guys was just phenomenal.

NKOTB then busted out a mash-up of “This is How We Do it” and “Games”. This gave Donnie the opportunity to put his rapping skills on display. Pretty much everything this man does can be considered sexy, but the rapping and the dancing that went along with it, was enough to make the ladies scream (again).

Following this mash-up though was the moment or moments we would have killed to not be in our seats in the 300s, but rather down on the floor or in the 100s. NKOTB moved into the song “Close to You” and in moving into that song, they also moved into the crowd for the end of it and for the song “Tonight” which followed. I would have killed to be down there to meet Donnie Wahlberg or any one of the others, but it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t, I probably would  have ended up on the floor and being carried out by EMS or something. “Tonight”  felt like a bit of a salute and a thank you to the crowd, even though it was probably part of their nightly set list. I think it may have been after this set or maybe one of the others Donnie decided to play with the volume of the crowd and see if he had the power to control the women at the JLC. I think it was pretty evident that the women at the JLC would do just about anything Donnie asked, heck at one point my sister and I said we’d get arrested for that man, and that maybe it was time to call Mom and Dad for bail money. Kidding, we are the most straight-laced girls, we wouldn’t get into any kind of legal trouble, though Donnie does play a cop, maybe we could get frisked?

NKOTB left the crowd, returned to the stage and vanished. There was a brief moment of nothingness, I think to give the crowd a chance to recover, or maybe just give the BSB time to get into place for their big entrance into the crowd. That’s right, anything NKOTB can do, BSB can do better, or so it seemed. BSB appeared from 2 entrances in the 100’s and slowly moved their way through the crowd as they performed “Shape of my Heart”. They slowly moved out of the crow and back to the stage for some choreographed ballads including “As Long as You Love Me” which was done with some nice mic-stand dancing. This was followed by “All I Have to Give”, which included a nice little section of four-part harmony. I’m a sucker for a cappella and four-part harmony, so this warmed my heart to hear.

BSB continued on with their ballads, singing “If you Stay”. Following “If you Stay”, there was a brief interlude of “Raspberry Parade” as Joey appeared on stage sporting tight pants and a BSB T-shirt that was knotted up like little girls did it back in the 80’s and 90’s. The very effeminate interlude moved into “Quit Playing Games With My Heart”, during which Joey took the lead away from his BSB equivalent Brian.

After the hijinks with Joey, the BSB left the stage and back came NKOTB with another range stretching ballad “I’ll be Loving You Forever”, again who got to take the money shot on Jordan, because no man should be able to sing that high.  Seeing grow men sing that high though was very interesting, it had to be a strain, they even milked the idea that it was a strain, with Jordan taking a long dramatic pause towards the end after a long run of held high notes.

NKOTB had their final ballad and BSB got theirs rounding out the separate part of the evening with “I Want It That Way”.

BSB finished their song and called NKOTB back to the stage.

All 9 guys returned to the stage, I believe it was Donnie saying that they couldn’t have picked a better place to end their tour (I’m pretty sure they would have said that no matter where they ended the tour, but it was still nice to hear) Donnie went on to say that this was quite possible that this stop was also the LOUDEST stop of their tour (again likely said to all of their crowds). It was a very loud concert and loud from the fans screaming and not the music. This was probably one of the smaller venues on their stop, but I’d like to think it was probably one of the most passionate. At one point the crowd pulled out neon pink hearts saying Thank You NKOTBSB, a true sign of appreciate for all that they have given to us. I know it sounds corny, but these two groups played a huge role in the youth from the 80s and 90s.

They thanked the crowd and then took the opportunity to introduce the members of the mega group, which was entertaining. As someone who has watched boy bands there are always certain characters in the groups and the members pretty evenly match up with a counter part. Before getting into introductions the BSB had a bit of a surprise for the NKOTB. AJ said it best, growing up (though not that far apart in age) the BSB looked up to and aspired to be like the NKOTB. BSB even put a video up on the screens of a cover they did of “Step By Step” back in 1993. It was so cute, all the little BSB, Nick was so small and so blonde!

After the group to group thank you’s, there were the personal introductions. First was AJ introducing the original bad boy; the most talent man that he knew, the one who stars in film, television and who sing,  the man who he truly respects; the man, the myth, the legend, Donnie Walhberg. It was a fitting introduction. Donnie returned the favour giving a nice speech for AJ sayings that when these two groups came together, they clicked, they just got each other and saw eye to eye on things. You could really tell that those two had bonded, the bad boys of their respective groups.

Next up was Nick, if both boy bands were still five a piece, it was clear who his counterpart would be, but since Kevin is no longer with the group, Nick again got two for one. He got to introduce the family element of this ensemble. One can sing really high and really low and so can the other, the nicest guys you could meet, the Knight brothers, Jordan and Jonathan. I would tend to think if Kevin were still around, he would likely introduce Jonathan, because he was also the guy in the band brought in by the family connection and one of the guys that was a bit more background than foreground. That is not the case though, Nick introduce both brothers and then Jordan took the mic to return the favour. Jordan referenced the video BSB had made when they were younger saying “I knew you were small, but I didn’t know you were THAT small”. Jordan ribbed Nick a bit, but then said, but ladies “Goddamn, Look at him Now”. Without a doubt, Nick grew into a man and not a bad one at all.

From there it was the jokester. Brian introduced Joey. He said from the first time the two got together he knew he had a kindred spirit in Joey, someone who could appreciate the fine art of sarcasm and the practical jokes. They were the “pretty (but understated)” front men of their groups. Joey continued on the same path. He said joining these two groups up was great. He’d gotten to the point with NKOTB that he could finally shut up, they’d heard all of his material, so joining up with BSB was like fresh meat! He recalled the moment he and Brian really connected. He’d come into their rehearsal space and made some kind of joke or sarcastic comment and Brian just gave him this stare that went right through him, it was this sarcasm recognition. They just connected. Joey went on and I forget what he said exactly, but he said there was only one bro-mance on this summer tour, and it was right there, between the two of them. It was very cute and everyone had a chuckle and an awwww.

Last but not least were the ‘forgotten’ boys. Key members of each of their groups, but often the ones in the background, who rarely see the spotlight and who most often have their names forgotten by fans. That’s right, it was time for Howie and Danny to introduce each other. Let me preface this by saying it got a bit awkward. Howie started. He talked about how he admired Danny because he was Rough, Tough and extremely Buff! Then came the all too obvious play on Danny’s last name, Wood. Howie of course took the opportunity to say “Ladies he has more wood than a lumberjack” and then he unveiled a rolled up sign to introduce Danny “10 Inch” Wood to the crowd. Of course the joke played out a bit further, at which point it got a bit awkward because there was a mention of shared shower time. Anyways the awkwardness subsided and Danny introduced Howie. Danny said he viewed Howie as the glue that held the guys together, not to take anything aways from anyone else, but that was how he saw Howie. He also referenced Howie as the Latin Lover, which is a bit funny because out of the nine men on stage, Howie is probably closer to the bottom of the list as far as which one you would take for a lover (again Donnie is at the top of my list, followed by Nick, gotta give love to both groups right?)

AJ then took the mic, again thanking the guys and most importantly the crowd. At one point there was a comment, I think it came from Brian and it was before these introductions saying that some of the fans have been loving NKOTB more than 20 years ( maybe it was 25), and loving BSB more than 18 years. He was saying for some 1989 seemed like yesterday (NKOTB fans), for some 1998 seemed like yesterday (BSB fans) and for some 2008 seemed like yesterday (the babies of the bunch who came late to the party). Anyways, AJ referenced the time that has passed saying it’s been a while, he had a full head of hair back when they started! He commented on what a ride it had been and how great it was and that hopefully they’d “Aged like a fine bottle of win, but none for me” AJ quipped making reference to his history with alcohol and substance abuse. I’d like to take this opportunity to commend him for getting help and overcoming his addictions so that he could live the life he is living and find the success he has found. AJ you are a true role model to people who struggle with things like addiction every day and who find the strength to overcome and survive.

The men then asked if the crowd was ready to come home, to which the crowd boisterously replied “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”. “Good neither are we” they replied.

The 9 boys  men joined together to sing “Don’t Turn Out the Lights”, the single they had released as the mega-group NKOTBSB. It’s a modern pop song that brings together two of the most memorable bands of the boy band era. One the original, one the first of the second coming. It was truly spectacular to see the nine guys take the stage together for this performance. It was to me the climax of the show. It complete the journey from the past to the present. It is amazing to me to see how far these 9 guys have come. To see how they have grown over the years and all that they have accomplished. It is truly amazing that nearly over 20 years has passed since both band’s prime years, but they still have a loyal and dedicated and even still growing fan base. It’s amazing the reach they have. They were written off so many times for being boy bands and when they said they were joining together they were met with skepticism and criticism, but they overcame and did what they felt was right in their guts and they put on one of the most spectacular stage shows I have ever experienced.

After seeing U2 this summer, I didn’t think another concert would even ever come close, and while comparing the two are like apples and oranges, I can honestly say, these two concerts have a chance to go down as two of the best in history (in terms of my own concert going).

I believe it was now that the lights went out and the crowd began to chant N-K-O-T-B-S-B until the lights came back on and the guys returned to the stage. It was amazing to hear the crowd unite in a chant to bring their teenage (and maybe adult) crushes back to the stage

The guys capped off the night with three final songs. NKOTB finished, in their Boston Celtics Jerseys,  with what else, the remaining song missing from the evening “Hang Tough” a final opportunity to throw in some well maneuvered pelvic thrusts.  BSB finished off by singing “Everybody”, dawning their Orlando Magic jerseys, and they showcased some of their monstrous moves.  Finally they two groups merged into NKOTBSB once again to finish the show with a cover/mashup of “We Will Rock You” that featured some lyrics from their songs.

One of the guys pulled out a sign, something to commemorate the final evening of this tour (there will be more, I can see it now!). I wish I had a picture.

It said:

9 Brothers

1 Summer

1,000,000 Memories

It was the perfect tribute and the perfect closing to the perfect summer (for them) and the perfect concert.

I’d like to finish this blog by saying some thank you’s of my own. Thank you to the New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys for coming together to form NKOTBSB. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to see you live, something I missed out on as a kid. Thank you for taking me back to a simpler time and reminding of all of the thoughts and feelings I had listening to your music as a kid.

I think the one thing that made this concert what it was, was that these 9 guys looked like they truly loved what they were doing and loved who they were doing it with. When you see performers enjoying themselves that much, you can’t help but like that surround you and take you in.

Thank you to the JLC for the tickets, and for bringing this concert to this venue. It continues to amaze me that London has such a phenomenal venue, with such a strong team managing it. While I consider London a ‘big city’ comparatively speaking it’s a smaller stop on a music tour. So thank you JLC for working so hard to make London a must stop venue for so many tours. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take four mom’s and one of my oldest friends to one of the best concerts I think we’ll ever attend. You gave me the opportunity to see my sister in a different light and I that is something I will never forget. You brought together generations and rivals. and that is something to be proud of. Thank you for not letting me and my guests miss this once in a lifetime opportunity!

Also kudos the sound mixing and video teams that I assume came with the tour and maybe worked with the venue. The video boards were clearer than pretty much any others I’ve seen. The mixing of the vocals and instrumentation was also spectacular. I could hear the instrumentation, but I could still make out all of the vocals and lyrics, which is often lost at a lot of concerts. The perfect sound mixing allowed fans to really get into the music and sing along, so good job!

So thank you to everyone who made the concert possible from the people working the venue, to the acts themselves, to the fans who made the experience what it was.

Thank You!

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The Toronto Blue Jays – R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention today is Social Media Day.

The MLB has adopted social media probably better than any of the other major sports leagues and today they are leveraging social media to get fans involved with their teams.

One way they are embracing social media today is the caption contest where fans are asked to come up with the best caption for a picture of a player from a specific team.

I found a link this morning that took me to a picture of JoJo Reyes during a post-game interview after he broke his 28 game winless streak. In this picture JoJo Reyes is receiving the standard Blue Jay treatment for any Blue Jay who achieves something great during a game and is awarded the post-game interview; in this case JoJo Reyes is getting a bucket of Gatorade (presumably) dumped over his head by his catcher JP Arencibia.

I thought that this was a great contest and a great way to get fans involved. I added my caption and was ready tweet it when at the bottom of the Caption Contest page was a disclaimer stating “By Filling out this form, I agree to the rules of the MLB.com Twitter Caption Contest.” 

Having entered a lot of contests recently, I always read the rules to make sure that I am eligible. I figured that since I’d found this contest link through the @BlueJays twitter account and it took me to a page on the Blue Jays website that I would be eligible for the contest.

I clicked on the link to view the rules and regulations, while reading the eligibility though, this is what I found:

For anyone who can’t read the print above, it says “The Contest is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and Washington D.C. …”

I was on the Toronto Blue Jays page, looking at a picture taken at Rogers Centre (Skydome) in Toronto Ontario, that was featuring a SportsNet Report, and two Toronto Blue Jays players JoJo Reyes and JP Arencibia, yet I was not eligible to participate in the Caption Contest because I do not reside within on of the fifty States or Washington D.C.

My first reaction was: “Wow a major #FAIL by the @MLB with their Caption Contest, Jays have a pic, but look at the rules #jays”, which I tweeted from my @Sadie_Liz twitter account.

The Toronto Blue Jays have been a part of the MLB since 1977, a span of 34 years and yet the Blue Jays and their fans are still often treated as second class citizen by the MLB and sports media.

This MLB run contest was only open to Americans, despite there being a Canadian team that is support by million of Canadians from East coast all the way to the West Coast. I am sure this is not the first MLB contest like this, nor will it be the last.

It is not all that surprising though, outside of Canada the Jays and Jays fans get very little respect or recognition. If the Yankees beat the Blue Jays, the Yankees are said to have “Destroyed the Jays”. If the Jays beat the Yankees though the “Jays Get Lucky in Win Over Yankees” or “Yankees stumble in loss to Blue Jays”.

When Toronto loses, the other team is said to dominate, or crush. When the Jays win though the Jays are said to have gotten lucky, or the other team is said to have stumbled. Toronto is rarely said to have ‘destroyed’ or ‘outdone’ their opponents, even if that is precisely the case. They Jays rarely see top billing for new articles on their wins on sites like ESPN or even MLB.com.

Despite 34 years in the MLB and back-to-back World Series Championships in 1992 and 1993, the Jays are the forgotten and looked down upon team of the MLB (not to say that there aren’t others). The Jays are in the hardest division in the MLB. They currently have arguably the best play in the MLB in Jose Bautista; In years past they arguably had the best pitcher in the MLB in Doc Halladay, but the Blue Jays still don’t see the coverage or praise that other teams do by sports media and even the MLB, (though the MLB had improved greatly thanks to their use of social media this year, there have been a number of video tweets showing plays and hits by Blue Jays).

Canada may only have one team across the entire nation, (after the Expos got moved to Washington and renamed the Nationals). That team though has the support of the entire nation and will not be silenced by the naivety of the MLB and sports media. This is our team, and we are proud of them. We will stand behind them and fight for them as hard as we can and if you won’t talk about them we will. We will blog, we will tweet, we will podcast, we will write, we will sing, we will promote our Jays.  We can and we do make a difference, you need proof, look at who is leading the All-Star Balloting this year. I would hazard to bet a number of those votes came from north of the border. Toronto is a good team, with good players, who fight yearly against the hardest division in the AL. After 34 years I think it is time for a bit more respect for the team and fans from Canada, don’t you?

My Vote 2011

Election Day is now 14 days a way I believe and I’m still wavering over where my vote is going.

I’ve ruled out Bev Shipley and the Conservative party because I refuse to contribute to Harper once again being in power. Shipley though is from Middlesex and he is somewhere, a couple of generations back, a part of my extended family. According to my grandmother, who babysat him when he was little, Shipley is a good guy who has done a lot for this riding and really represents the interests of the community well. As I said though, he’s out for me as long as he is supporting the “Harper Government”.

So that narrows it down to:

Liberal Candidate Gayle Stucke

NDP Candidate  Joe Hill

Green Candidate Jim Johnston

CHP Candidate something Janssens

Well let’s start where my vote isn’t going. Sorry Janssen, but you’re not getting my vote. You’re young, you’ll have more chances, probably not more success as long as you are with the CHP, but you’ll have more chances.

Joe Hill – I’ve voted NDP in the past (when I lived in St. Catharines), but I really don’t think you have my interests at heart. You’re not present in any social media and the only real information I’ve read on you suggests that seniors are your priority. Also you have no real shot of overthrowing Shipley in my riding.

So that leaves the Liberal Candidate and the Green Candidate.

Strategically I am leaning towards the Liberal Candidate Stucke, because if anyone is going to dethrone Shipley it is going to be the Liberal Candidate. But if I voted my conscience, based on what I’ve seen and read of the local candidates and parties themselves, I would probably lean more towards the Green candidate.

But my vote is still up for grabs.

I guess for two more weeks the Liberal and Green candidates have the chance to woo me. I’ll be watching.

Twitter Blue Birds are really Blue Jays #jays #mlb

So if anyone reading this is following me on twitter (@Sadie_Liz) you will already know that I am a huge Toronto Blue Jays fan. You may also know that I am a communications consultant, who is big into social media.

This season many professional athletes have taken to twitter, creating accounts, interacting with other players and even fans. You can follow a list of professional MLB Players or follow a number of individual players like Toronto Blue Jays JP Arencibia (@jparencibia9), Jose Bautista (@JoeyBats19), Travis Snider (@Lunchboxhero45), Ricky Romero (@RickyRo24), Jesse Litsch (@JesseLitsch), Brett Cecil (@CEC0208) and soon to be reactivated Brandon Morrow (@2Morrow23). Turns out the Twitter Blue Bird is really a Blue Jay.

Last week JP Arencibia and Ricky Romero (I think it was) asked if they should try to get 2nd baseman Aaron Hill and utility man John McDonald on twitter. My answer was “Absolutely, Yes!”

Of course I would love to see veterans Hill and McDonald on twitter just because well, they are Hill and McDonald, what Jays fan doesn’t love those two, especially Johnny Mac, a fan favourite.

I’ve thought about this from a marketing and communications perspective though. I believe twitter can be hugely beneficial to a team like Toronto.

  • Blue Jays are not just a Toronto team, they are a Canadian team. The fan base for the Blue Jays is from coast to coast and twitter helps to overcome the geographical distance for fans
  • The Blue Jays organization is built on ‘imports’. Meaning that with the exception of a few (Stairs, Richmond, Lawrie) all of the players are coming from outside of Canada. Even if there were players from inside Canada, it wouldn’t be like Hockey where the Canadians come up through the CHL and World Juniors and are highly familiar to the Canadian Public. Twitter will give fans access and insight into who the Toronto Blue Jays players really are, it will humanize them beyond their celebrity status. And this is even more important for the guys who are just coming up, or who were acquired through trades. Fans got to know Doc and Vernon Wells and invested years into them and now they’re gone. Fans need to find new favourite players and Twitter will help speed and intensify that process.
  • Over the years a number of fans have disengaged due to the fact that Jays haven’t seen the top of the AL East since their back to back World Series Wins. This has caused a decrease in game attendance and likely merchandising. By having Blue Jays players on twitter engaging with fans or participating in ‘Twitter Parties’ on off days  (not something that has yet happened) Toronto will be cultivating a new group of fans or re-engaging fans who have long since disconnected from the Toronto team.I was a huge Blue Jays fan as a kid, and while I’ve always been a big fan, I’ve been more engaged this year than any other year because of the players who are on Twitter. I’m getting to know the players that make up the teams. I almost feel like they’re guys from down the street, or someone I know from somewhere, instead of celebrity athletes. I’m invested in this team, their wins and their losses, how they handle the wins and losses and in the personal details that they share through their Twitter accounts. I feel connected to these players and I want to see them succeed. I wish I could go to their games and give them the support that people always gave me when I was playing. If I am feeling this way, I can’t imagine others aren’t feeling the same.If people are more connected to the team and engaged by the players they are going to watch more games, buy tickets and go to more games, spend more money at the ball park or online in the Jays store, or contribute more to the Jays Care foundation because it is something their ‘friends’ value  and therefore they value.
  • John McDonald is probably the most popular player on the Blue Jays team, at least I would contend that he is because last season when a little boy could choose any player he wanted to throw the opening pitch to, he chose Johnny Mac and the crowd roared. Johnny Mac has been one of my favourite players since he arrived. I’ve always cheered for him and been thrilled when he gets to see playing time. There is just something about him that is endearing. He is the underdog, the average Joe. Last season some sports analysts said that he didn’t deserve his spot on the roster, but fans disagreed and so thankfully did Cito. Johnny Mac by everything the fans know, is the hardest working person on the Blue Jays team. He doesn’t play every day, but he works hard everyday to be sure that if he is on the field he is ready. When he is on the field it is amazing to watch him work and succeed. To see him excel when he gets a day on the field is like a win for the little guy, even though he is probably the best utility player in the league. Now take that and think of him from a Marketing Perspective. He is the Jerome “JYD” Williams of the Blue Jays. He might not be as outlandish as JYD is, but he is just as, if not more beloved by the Blue Jay fans across the country. John McDonald has more ‘star power’ within the Toronto fan base than probably any other Blue Jay, though JP Arencibia may be taking over the young female demographic, so having a beloved veteran like him on Twitter would be HUGE. He feels like a guy you’ve known forever for some reason. If he got on Twitter, he would have droves of followers in no time. Twitter would connect people that much more to the already most relatable guy on the team. Honestly how many Blue Jays fans wouldn’t want to find a way to make it to a game if Johnny Mac tweeted a plea to fans to come out and support the team. Or if Johnny Mac tweeted about Jays Care, who wouldn’t try to scrounge up some spare change or canned goods to help? Johnny Mac is a fan favourite already, I have a feeling that would translate to Twitter and fans would just be on cloud nine, and if marketing decided to use that to their advantage, well they’d probably end up pretty happy.Even if marketing didn’t jump on that, all of the players are invested in the team and the work the team does. They want the team to succeed, the want the causes they support to succeed. The players are passionate about their team and they want to see fans return to their former glory of the World Series Years, who wouldn’t. I know when I played baseball not only did I want to win, I wanted to have the crowd energized, it makes the game that much more exciting as a player. Every player they get on Twitter, especially the fan favourites like Johnny Mac, Hill and rising stars like JP Arencibia, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, the more fans are going to invest in the team emotionally and probably more importantly invest with bums in the seats, increased ticket sales and merchandise sales.

From my perspective the Jays already on Twitter absolutely need to be getting some of the other Jays on Twitter as well, especially fan favourite veterans like Hill and McDonald. It’s time to get this nation excited about the boys of summer and it has to start somewhere. If the players are pumped and have a never die attitude that is evident to the fans how can the fans not follow suit?

It’s time for the Blue Jays Nation 2.0!  Let’s go! Blue Jays! Let’s Go!

Turning Blue

Well it’s official, I am in danger of turning blue. I live in Strathroy-Caradoc, part of the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding. In the last day and a half I have driven through most of Strathroy-Caradoc and felt myself turning a little more blue, because all of the election signs are just that – Conservative blue. Conservative blue signs telling me to re-elect Bev Shipley, signs like the ones that went up across from the end of my lane way only a couple of hours ago, which join the dozen others in my municipality and more than likely county.

If I hadn’t had to take my Grandmother to her hair appointment on Front Street  yesterday morning I wouldn’t have seen any sign of other candidates in the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding, at least not in my community.  Luckily both NDP and Liberal candidates Joe Hill and Gayle Stucke have campaign offices on Front Street, at opposite ends of a section of buildings that happen to sandwich my grandmother’s salon.

Outside of seeing both of their offices, which looked fairly dark and uninhabited, there have been no other signs of candidates in my riding a week into this election campaign. If it wasn’t for the internet and my addictions to Facebook and Twitter and even Google I probably wouldn’t know that my candidates are Gayle Stucke (LPC), Joe Hill (NDP) and Jim Johnston (GPC) and of course the incumbent Bev Shipley (CPC).

Now I have to say I’m impressed that Gayle Stucke has taken to social media (twitter @gayle_stucke and facebook Gayle Stucke Federal Liberal for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex ) but I am likely a bit of an oddity in Middlesex. While I use the internet and social media to gain a lot of my election information I know, having worked in Middlesex County interacting with a lot of local residents and merchants, that the number of people to have jumped on the social media band-wagon is still relatively small.  So since I’m in a community of people either void of internet or on painful dial-up, where exactly are voters supposed to be looking to learn who the candidates are? There are now Shipley  all over my community (including ones visible from my house) and there has been a mail-out from him (granted it was likely mailed out or put in motion before this election began (as it still said MP on it) ) and absolutely nothing from the 3 other candidates in my riding.

I know that there are still weeks left for campaigning and there is plenty of time for the candidates to introduce themselves, but in this election alone the Liberal, NDP and Green candidates in my riding seem to have given the incumbent Shipley a weeks head start (that is not to mention the head start he already has from being the incumbent and a longstanding member of the Middlesex Community).

I really don’t want to be blue, give me another option, give my riding another visible option, please!

The Youth Vote

The Youth vote is typically the hardest to harness during any election. Often youth are disengaged and uniformed, which tends to lead to them not appearing at the polls come election day.

I would like to think that youth engagement and participation in Federal Election 41 would be different, especially given the digital era we are in. I fear though that this will not be the case. There is added challenging in rega rds to reaching the youth vote this election: timing.

The timing of this election is horrible for new voters.

Problem one: A chunk of the youth demographic is currently sitting in their dorm room or apartment at school buried beneath a stack of books studying a semesters worth of material for their final exams.  I’m not so far removed from my years as a student that I cease to remember that little else mattered at this time of year, let alone managed to find a permanent home in memory. So as it is student are encountering an overload of information; handling the overload of election information will be a challenge to say the least, and as student deal with finals, they are not likely going to go out and find the information, it is going to have to come to them.

Problem two: I encountered this when I was in University and living away from home – having to change my voters registration. A number students simply do not change their voting registration to their school address and simply forgo voting in the election because they do not feel that they are a qualified voting participant of the community that they are living in for school.

Problem three: A number of students move for school, spending 8 months living at or near their post-secondary institution and four months living at home. With the election happening May 2nd, students who fall into this category will spend at least the first half (if not more) of the campaign in one riding, familiarizing themselves with the candidates there (if they have the time) and then returning home  for the remainder of the campaign, which means they will have little time to learn about the candidates in their own riding.

Problem four: Summer Jobs – I know a number of people who immediately leave for summer jobs following the end of their school year. So in the midst of moving and training for their new summer jobs, students may lose track of the election and simply not vote.

So what can be done?

Candidates and or Parties, if wanting to reach this demographic need to reach out through the most accessible medium for youth – Social Media. Candidates to need to engage via Facebook and Twitter. Create a page or a handle and start talking. Don’t simply broadcast, interact. Find people to follow, follow people who follow you. Engage with what they are saying, what they are asking. Create a forum of open communication. Invest in the people.

Veteran Voters – taken time to engage youth. During this past municipal election, London Ontario was a great example of this with Hack the Vote. Community members pulled together to engage the youth demographic. By reaching out through social media and creating accessible events and bringing the candidate to the voters. This is something that needs to be done again for this federal election. Where ever you live, find a way to help the youth demographic get informed and get engaged with this election process. Go to them, or go to your candidates and push them to get involved with the youth demographic.

Youth Voters – Get informed! – Find your Candidates office, attend of their events or rallies, find them on Facebook or Twitter. Connect with other voters in your voting community or within the larger voting community. On Twitter you can follow election tweets by searching the hashtag #exln41 and many ridings now have their own hashtags as well. Parties also have their own hashtags Liberal – #LPC, Conversative – #CPC, New Democratic Party – #NDP, Green – #GPC. Some of the best things I’ve read about politics have come from the candidates or the parties themselves, but they come from the discussion that is generated by the people in my community who I follow on twitter, it a great place to get informed. On twitter you can follow the parties, the candidates, the media and the voters, all perspectives in one place.

Register to vote where-ever you maybe. If you’re at school, make sure you register in your new riding. To find out about voter registration visit Elections Canada.  If you want to vote in your home riding, but you aren’t going to be there, learn about voting by Special Ballot through Elections Canada.
You can also register the day of the election by showing up at the polling station, providing you have proof of identity and address with you (ie drivers license and a phone bill).

The below is an excerpt from Elections Canada regarding voter registration:

To register to vote:

  • call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868
  • visit your local Elections Canada office between March 30 and 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26
  • go to your advance polling place on Friday, April 22, Saturday, April 23 or Monday, April 25, or
  • go to your election day polling place on Monday, May 2

Get the hours and address of your local Elections Canada office.

After April 8, the address of your advance and election day polling places will be available on this Web site or by calling Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868.

To register, you’ll be asked to:

Most electors are already registered in the National Register of Electors (the Register), a database of Canadian electors who are qualified to vote in federal elections and referendums. Elections Canada will send a voter information card to registered electors between April 8 and April 13.