*Photo Credit to @BackstreetBoys Instagram and @Dr_Dude

Post Co-Written by Guest Writer: Melissa

It’s night one of #BSBAtTheBeach. The welcome party is packed in the outdoor theater at the Sunrise property at Moon Palace Cancun. The Backstreet Boys are on stage chatting with fans, talking about the next few days’ events to come, swapping jokes with one another as they always do. The resort has delicious food out in a buffet line and the cocktails are flowing. It is a perfect evening to start off the first ever 4 day #BSBAtTheBeach event.

We know the Backstreet Boys most for their performances on stage, and so many have seen them live throughout the 31 years that they have been performing. But you know who hasn’t seen them live? Themselves…

Imagine Brian, Kevin, AJ, Nick, and Howie watching their own show…sounds strange right?  

Enter BSB Tributo! 

These guys take tribute bands to another level. The boys themselves announced them, sharing how they had heard of the group. Kevin said that he literally heard himself singing at the Vina Del Mar festival and looked over the balcony to see these 5 guys singing BSB songs. Brian followed suit, walking out on his own balcony, just next to Kevin’s, and thought Kevin had gone downstairs to sing with them. They were floored by their sound and their ability to mimic the real Backstreet Boys. 

It has to be said, these guys know their muse. As we were watching the show from the back of the outdoor venue, we were shocked at how many details these guys were able to pull off. The adlibs in the songs, the physical movements they made, their facial hair…these 5 guys made it hard to tell who the real Backstreet Boy was from a afar. 

We were so fortunate to be able to interview a few of the members of BSB Tributo. Carlos (AJ) and Mauri D (Howie D) joined us via zoom from their home of Chile to share a little about their experience in Cancun, meeting and performing with the guys, and how they got started. 

Mauri D (Maurecio), the group’s Howie, is from Chile and works at a railway company when he is not moonlighting as Sweet D. He has been a Backstreet Boys fan since he was 15 years old and has loved their music all this time. Mauri has 3 kids and shares BSB music with them as well. Carlos, the group’s AJ, shared that he has also been a fan of BSB since he was 15 years old. He also has 3 kids and lives in Chile. Carlos made note that he has 3 daughters, “One more than AJ”!

So how did this group come about?? 

For BSB Tributo, Mauri D/Howie was the original boy, but Carlos joined early on, after meeting Mauri at a non-BSB event shortly after BSB had their first show in Chile in February, 1998. Mauri recalled being drawn to Carlos because of how much he resembled AJ. “The resemblance to the boys is what determines who acts as who and that resemblance is simply luck,” Carlos shared. Of course AJ’s headscarf from back in the early days was not widely available in Chile at the time, so Carlos has to steal his sister’s to complete the look. When Mauri and Carlos came together, along with a few other guys, history was made. Over the years, the group has evolved, from a dance group to a full singing and performance group. Group members have left, and others have joined, changing the dynamic of the group over time. Carlos only recently rejoined the group after years away. But at all times, they have a boy that represents each of the 5 Backstreet Boys.

And why Backstreet Boys? 

“Their music marked a unique stage in our country,” Carlos said. He went on to say that the impact they had was unlike anything that had ever been seen in Chile. “Girls liked them because they were attracted to them and boys wanted to be them. Every guy could identify with one of the boys. The music was catchy and fun. You couldn’t help but want to emulate them.” And with the single, “We’ve Got It Goin’ On” being played on the radio, they couldn’t help but sing and dance along. 

As the years went on, they began to study the boys and their performances. Mauri shared, “I have been studying Howie since I was young. I listen to different recordings when I drive and analyze his voice.” He recalled that In 1998, there were a hundred thousand fans outside of their tour bus, “and I was one of them. I wore a jacket similar to one they used to wear. Howie saw me and nodded his head when he recognized the jacket.” BSB Tributo also spends time watching videos of their choreography together, as a group, while also taking the time to study the details of each individual boy, watching their movements and mannerisms. Carlos shared “the fact that some of us naturally have similarities is just luck. We can’t do much about that, but we emphasize it with the right makeup. It helps increase the look…AJ is eccentric in his wardrobe. I’m not like that in my day to day life. I live in the grays. But I have to adopt his style when I am him. I must adopt his personality.” Mauri was quick to emphasize that they are not trying to be the boys, but instead creating an environment where fans can enjoy the illusion of the boys performing when they are on stage. Maury stated, “We want to bring a professional product. In rea life, we are not like them”. They also noted that “it is amazing the details you can see from above,” and they try to acknowledge the fan reactions while they are performing, which is something they have seen Backstreet Boys do regularly. 

And when you are performing, what is your favorite BSB song to perform? Well there are way too many to choose from of course. Carlos said, “many, I can’t choose,” before mentioning that he loves to perform “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” in Spanish. “It meant a lot to Latinamericans that they chose to have a Spanish version. It’s very special.” He also mentioned enjoying performing Drowning and Breathe off the DNA album. Both Carlos and Mauri shared that Larger than Life is also a favorite of theirs. Mauri stated, “We sometimes sing it at the top of the show and we sometimes sing it as a closer. When we open with it, there is a lot of energy and excitement. When we close with it, we are exhausted from doing the whole show before it, but we gather everything we have left and give it all.” Mauri, as our Howie D, also had to point out that there are less opportunities for him to sing solos, so he also enjoys anything where Howie is showcased, (P.S. So do we!). “Like ‘Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely’ – it’s a touching song and I love to sing that long high note. (And during that song) I watched videos of Howie performing this emotional song then he starts to salsa…what is that doing in there? It makes no sense,” he laughed and said he still loved it. 

Typically, BSB Tributo are hired to play events at casinos, big restaurants, and local government events. The audience is sometimes full of BSB fans, and sometimes just a random gathering. They have to know their audience so that the setlist they choose will meet the needs of the event. Mauri shared they have 3 main line ups, including a 30-40 minute set focused on the hits, which is what we received in Cancun. They also have some of those deeper cuts covered and costume changes as part of a longer set. #BSBArmy…maybe there is still a way to get the REAL deep cuts played?? For each show, they emulate performances Backstreet Boys have done in the past and include the specific costumes to go along with the performances. And these costumes are perfect down to every detail!

So then, how did the Cancun gig come along?

BSB Tributo reiterated Kevin’s story, but from their side. They had been hired to perform at the Vina Del Mar event by local Television studio and fortunately, the real Backstreet Boys heard them. At that time, they were able to meet the boys briefly, sharing that all of the boys were very warm and welcoming, despite the meeting being rushed. And then a short while later, the invitation to play in Cancun was a “tremendous surprise”. BSB Tributo was contacted by Live Nation and told that their “presence was requested” at the Backstreet Boys Cancun event. They were told that “the boys requested them” for the event. BSB Tributo was in disbelief and “thought it was a joke.” It took some communication and ongoing conversation between BSB Tributo and the Live Nation representative before it sunk in that this was for real…and then they began to prepare. 

When asked about Cancun, Mauri and Carlos lit up. “We were told the Backstreet Boys would be present and that they might introduce us. We weren’t expecting much…Sharing a stage with them was never planned! It was all unexpected!” As our set went on, more of the guys started coming on stage. They were trying their best to remain in character and keep the show going, but none of that had been planned. “We never knew we were going to get to perform with them…Many people would love to collaborate with them..but it doesn’t happen for them. But we got to!” Carlos excitedly shared “I was about to start the rap in ‘Get Down’ like I always do, and I looked to the side and realized AJ was there. In 1 millisecond, I had MANY thoughts…I was trying to be professional and kept going. I did the same motions I trained to do during, ‘Spike it up, flip it and move it all around,’ and there he was doing the same motions with me. It was crazy!”

Also unexpected was the pre-show chant that they did alongside the real band. Carlos recalled “We were waiting to go on stage when Leigh (Howie’s wife) stretched out her arm and said, ‘ok guys it’s time’. Everyone knows what it means when someone stretches out their arm like that. So we put our arms in the huddle. We thought it would just be the 5 of us with Leigh doing the chant, but then she called Howie over, then he called Kevin over, then Nick came, then AJ, then Brian! And we all did the chant together! At that moment, we felt complete.”

*Photo Credit to @BackstreetBoys Instagram and @Dr_Dude

As a fan in the audience, watching this all go down was epic. While waiting for Tributo to take the stage, we hear the chant loud and clear in the back of the venue. We assumed this was just something they did regularly, so hearing from Carlos and Mauri how organically it came about was really sweet. And they were absolutely over the moon when they shared about the experience. 

While Tributo was on stage, Nick and Howie (the real ones) went live on Instagram. Watching Nick Carter on his Instagram Live watch Tributo Nick on stage performing his songs was legendary. Because we were so far back, we were actually watching the Instagram live, while simultaneously watching the real boys filming Tributo, while also watching Tributo perform…it was such a meta moment and truly a joy to see! We got to be there for the Backstreet Boys first concert of their own show! And it was so clear that all of the guys were loving it, and living for it! They were commenting on the mannerisms and all the liberties Tributo was taking in the show, just like us fans were excited to see all those details. They seemed just as excited to meet Tributo as Tributo was to meet them. 

For Carlos, this was the first time he met any of the boys, as he was not with BSB Tributo when they were at the Vina Del Mar show. He shared, “My first time meeting the boys was in Cancun. It was incredible. They talked to me, we drank together, we felt so comfortable with them. AJ said, ‘you don’t have any tattoos! That’s good. Because once you get one you can’t stop.’ We hung out with them everyday for hours. They kept saying thank you to us. I asked AJ, ‘Please stop changing your look,’ because it’s so expensive to keep up with it. AJ laughed and said, ‘sorry. It’s my job.’” Mauri shared that Cancun felt very different from when he had met them at Vina Del Mar. “For a moment we were part of their intimate circle,” and they all kept telling us how good and amazing we were.”

So you enjoyed hanging out with the boys…what about the #BSBArmy?

“You’re so beautiful!” was the first thing that came out of their mouths, but they also shared they were a bit nervous because they were not feeling very well-received when they were first announced. “We received some hate when it was announced we were performing in Cancun. Things like, ‘Who do they think they are?’ ‘We paid for the real thing.’ It made us nervous. We were afraid the Backstreet Boys were going to rescind their offer to go perform. We did not comment on it or respond. We know they just didn’t know us and we let it drive us to work harder. The people who knew who we are were very nice and supportive though. Out of 500 comments maybe 80-100 were negative. Ultimately the fans are the authoritative voice and we needed to impress them. The Backstreet Boys had our backs 100%. They validated us.” And BSB Tributo absolutely did impress us! Thankfully, the BSB Army was exposed to this amazing group and they really did deliver! 

Mauri and Carlos went on to say that the BSB Army is loyal, capable of doing anything, and completely engaged with the group. They shared that the BSB Army is full of love when you get to know the people who are part of it. They also mentioned that the fans are very detail-oriented.
“They see when we miss our mark and they tell us, but it’s ok, we appreciate the constructive criticism”. 

When asked when and were we can see them again, they shared that Cancun was their first appearance outside of their home country of Chile. Now that they’ve gone international, they want to push further. “We are now looking at opportunities to perform in other parts of Latin America, Europe, and the US. We have been receiving emails and instagram messages from producers and event planners requesting more information…We are happy to search for more gigs and our social media followers went up by 1000 in just one day and keeps growing. But it is also helpful if the fans reach out to venues and request us. Look for our shows and buy a ticket!” They are hopeful they will see us all again soon…and so are we!

Interviewing these guys was such a fun experience. We had such a great time meeting them and hearing about their experiences in Cancun with our boys. These guys are complete fans, just like us. But they are also artists and extremely protective of their craft. We are beyond impressed with their professionalism and attention to detail. They did not allow their fanboy energy to get in the way of the work they were doing. That is why the boys respect them so much, and why they deserve our respect as well. 

Until next time BSB Tributo!

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We are a group of women who love and support the Backstreet Boys. We are professionals in various aspects of business with backgrounds in marketing, journalism, writing, and psychology. 

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