98 degrees was one of my favorite groups back when I was heavy into my boyband phase. I saw them live in the 90s a few times and absolutely loved each of the shows I saw. I remember them having crisp and clean voices, something I noticed even as a kid. When the opportunity came up for me to see them live again, I jumped at it, dragging (rather willingly) my good friend Julie along. 

I will admit, it had been a long while since 98 degrees was dominating my playlist, but in preparation for the show, I pulled all the old albums (I have them all…) and started listening. I was immediately STOKED that I would get to hear some of my favorites live including Invisible Man, Heat it Up, and The Hardest Thing. 

The venue in Beverly Hills was intimate. Just about all seats were good seats. And we were so fortunate to have the BEST seats: right in the front row. The show started right on time, defying typical “boyband” time which is often notoriously late. They had an opener, “No Lonely Hearts”, a group of 17-21 year old kids with stars in their eyes as they performed. They were adorable and had a very throwback boyband feel. They had upbeat choreography, strong voices, and a definite desire to be on stage. They sang 2 originals and then paid homage to a few boybands of the past (and current): Backstreet Boys and N’Sync.

After the opening act ended, there was a very short break before the main event began. 98 Degrees opened with a medley of both their music and covers or other artists. I especially loved hearing Can’t Get Enough and Heat it Up mixed with Bruno Mars’ Finesse. They definitely got out the gate with a bang, performing well-timed choreography and moving all over the stage to reach the full audience. They followed up with Fly with Me and Do You Wanna Dance, both songs I love as well. The best part of this opening was how excited the guys were on stage. Nick couldn’t wipe his smile off his face. Drew was making funny faces and acting like a goof throughout. Justin gave a few looks toward the crowd, letting us know he was in it.  Jeff was very committed to those lyrics and was very interactive with the crowd. And the way they interacted with one another? It was just fun to watch them having so much fun. 

They transitioned to one of my all time favorites: Invisible Man. Chills. Pure chills. Not only is this song a gem, but the way it lends itself to their voices is electrifying. I absolutely loved hearing them sing this live after so many years and it brought me back! I don’t think they make songs like this anymore and it’s a shame! Just good old throw your heart out there love songs to romance the best of us. Throw in their harmonies and crisp sound and I’m done.  

The middle of the show brought an interesting turn. The Diva’s section had the guys belting out classic hits from the likes of Whitney, Adele, and En Vogue amongst others. They also threw in their collaboration with Mariah Carey and sang “Thank God I Found You”. I’m embarrased to say, I forgot this song existed. Still, the second they began singing, I immediately remembered every lyric and alll the feelings that came along with that song. 

Then four lucky fans were chosen to be serenaded on stage during My Everything. The boys set out stools for each of the fans and each boy gave each fan some attention throughout the song, singing directly to them, holding their hand, making them swoon (as expected). One of the fans was overcome with emotion and let the tears roll. I love seeing true fans get this kind of attention and have these wildest dreams come to reality. 

Probably my favorite part of the show was the acoustic set. They sang “Still,” “True to Your Heart,” If She Only Knew,” and “I Do,” with Drew on guitar and another guitarest joining the stage to with them. This is where their voices really shine. The stripped down songs, their voices over just the guitar on these beautiful slow tempo ballads, truly shows off their talent. Nick shared a story of how he thought “If She Only Knew” would have been a massive hit, but sadly, it didn’t make it as big as he thought it should be. For the record, I 1000% agree. This song should have taken off and it was a complete miss for pop culture. My biggest complaint-it wasn’t long enough. They only sang 4 songs in this set and I could’ve gone almost the whole show with these stripped down versions. Maybe an acoustic album is in their future. 

The boys jumped back into something more upbeat with one of their biggest hits “Because of You” before continuing on to a tribute to TRL. I did not have 98 degrees singing “Oops…I did it again” and “Thong Song” on my 2023 bingo card, but that is exactly what I got! They also paid tribute to other boys bands Backstreet Boys and N’Sync with “Larger than Life” and “Tearin’ Up My Heart” along with “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and “Say My Name.” It was a fun throwback to see them pull in these covers and their take on them was refreshing. They were clearly enjoying themselves, shaking their asses along to Sisqo’s hit and their sharp choroegraphy to go along with Britney’s song. Their enjoyment definitely bled on to the crowd and the cheering grew louder with every successive song addition. 

I did love the TRL throwbacks and I would not want them to take this out. However, I will say that they did a lot more covers than I would have expected throughout the show.  98 Degrees has a pretty healthy repertoire of songs and many of these were left out of the setlist. I would have enjoyed hearing more 98 degrees originals (Where was “Was it Something I didn’t Say” and “The Way You Want Me to”?) too. 

Nonetheless, they saved the best for almost last with “The Hardest Thing”. Seriously this song pulls so hard at my heartstrings. I can’t listen to this song on the radio without tearing up, so hearing it live…oofff… And of course, it was well done, with minimal choreography that did not take from the song, but added to the somber feel. The harmonies and voice blends were amazing and sent chills all over the theater. Easily the most emotional part of the night, and not just becauae they were saying their goodbyes at the end of the show.

But then, as all good boybands do, they came out with an encore. Ending the show with another one of their hits, “Give me Just One Night (Una Noche)” was a great touch. They brought the energy level back up and gave us one last push of thrill before exiting the stage permanently and leaving us in a haze of post concert depression.  I absolutely considered what upcoming show I could make it to before I even left the venue for the night. That’s definitely the mark of a great show!

After all these years, it was well-worth it to get out and see 98 degrees perform some of their greatest hits, along with some throwbacks. They were engaging, charming, interactive, and of course, ran that stage like pros. I’ll be keeping my eye out for their next tour.