By Patrick Svitek
10:34 AM CDT, August 4, 2013
The Backstreet Boys were back, all right, but not for as long as their excited fans at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion expected.
The '90s pop sensation — known for such hits as "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" — was apparently cut off Friday night during its Northerly Island concert, leaving thousands of fans without an encore or even a finish to the song they were performing ("Love Somebody").
In an e-mailed statement Saturday night, Live Nation, which manages the venue, said that the start of the concert was delayed because "As has always been the case, the Backstreet Boys production is unlike anything else on the road" and the "state of the art" concert setup meant the opening of the doors to admit concertgoers and the start of the concert was later than expected.
Because the venue has a strict 11 p.m. curfew, Live Nation said it worked with the performers to try and get the full show in before the curfew hit. When that became impossible, "the artist was asked to conclude the show."
On Saturday, the Chicago Park District tweeted in response to a fan's complaint that "Live Nation makes that call. They were hired to manage that concert venue."
Backstreet Boys singer Kevin Richardson offered an apology on the group's Facebook page.
"We got shut down five minutes shy of the finish line, so we're so frustrated, and we're going to figure out how to make this right," Richardson said, in a video posted hours after the show ended.
In the statement Live Nation said that "at this time, there is not word of a return date for Chicago."
Melinda Dragicevich, a 32-year-old 911 dispatcher from Des Plaines, said she and her friend were in the front row when the lights came on and the band's microphones stopped working about 11 p.m. She had printed out a set list for the night and noticed the Backstreet Boys still had four songs left.
She recalled the Backstreet Boys looking surprised and hearing them tell each other that they have no problem paying whatever fine comes with performing later than allowed.
"It ended so abruptly," Dragicevich said. "They kept saying, 'It's not us.' "
In a video posted on YouTube by a concert attendee, the Backstreet Boys are shown leading the audience in chants of, "One more song!" and asking someone off-stage whether they could perform "just one more, please."
The sudden shutdown was not the first time this summer that concert attendees left the newly revamped and renamed FirstMerit Bank Pavilion unsatisfied.
Fans who attended a Jimmy Buffett concert June 29 complained about poor acoustics and muddy conditions, prompting Live Nation to promise free tickets to upcoming shows.
One disappointed Backstreet Boys fan remembered that experience.
"We'll never go back to Northerly Island again," the fan tweeted. "Saw BSB and Jimmy Buffett there, both times the venue ruined our experience."firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @PatrickSvitek
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