This was supposed to be over a long time ago. Years. Decades, even.
In the late 1990s, the three guys who made up the boy band LFO lodged themselves in pop-culture history with the song “Summer Girls.” The radio and MTV smash was wrapped in sugary raps and bouncy vocals and references so random that you couldn’t help but remember them: Chinese food (it “makes me sick”), “Billy” Shakespeare (he “wrote a whole bunch of sonnets”) and, most notably, “I like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch.”
But that ride stopped in 2002, when Rich Cronin, Brad Fischetti and Devin Lima took a break that lasted most of the next 15 years. LFO did a brief reunion tour in 2009, but at the time, Cronin was ailing in his battle against leukemia, and one year later, at 36, he died.
“When Rich died, I thought that was it,” said Shawn VanPatten, a Kiss 98.5 deejay known as “Shy Guy Shawn” and a longtime friend of LFO. “That closed the chapter.”
But it didn’t. LFO is back, with a new single called “Perfect 10” and two-week tour across the eastern United States. Fischetti and Lima and their six-piece band visit Buffalo on July 30 for a show at Studio @ Waiting Room.
Let's be real: If you’ve read this far, there’s a decent chance you were a '90s child boy-band fan, and therefore have “Summer Girls” ear-worming through your head right now. If that’s you, you’re probably also trying to remember some of LFO’s other popular songs. (We can help: “Girl on TV,” “West Side Story,” “Can’t Have You.”)
Or, if you’re still reading, you probably have a sense of curiosity that ranges from skeptical to judgmental:
Why are they doing this?
Will people care?
What about Rich’s parts?
Can there be LFO without Rich? (Cronin was the group’s founder and frosty-haired frontman.)
It’s OK. You are not alone in wondering these things.
“It keeps me up at night,” Fischetti said in a phone interview from Orlando, where he and Lima live with their families. “Are we still viable? That’s the big question. Those answers will come over the next few weeks.”
The question was opened last summer, when Fischetti was texting with Jeff Timmons, the founder of the boy band 98 Degrees. During their own reunion concert tour last year, 98 Degrees played a seven-minute medley of late-‘90s hits, from ‘N Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye” to Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” to the LFO hit “Summer Girls.” Timmons told Fischetti about the medley, which was billed as a tribute to MTV’s famous ‘90s countdown show, “Total Request Live.”
“We were like, ‘Aw, cool, if you ever want us to come out and do a cameo, let us know,’” Fischetti said. “Kind of half-joking.”
“Pick a show,” Timmons responded.
It was one of those moments where a what-if scenario became real. Suddenly, Fischetti, who is 41, and Lima, 40, were faced with the possibility of actually getting onstage in front of an actual crowd one more time.
In one sense, this shouldn’t be a big deal. Back in LFO’s heyday, when the group was big in the U.S. and Europe, playing for crowds of screaming teens was a regular thing. But that was a different time; it felt like a different life.
“Back then, I didn’t really have any conviction,” Fischetti said. “I was just trying to go out there, play some shows, meet some people, make some money and be on TV.”
Today, Fischetti and Lima have fuller, well-rounded lives. Fischetti has five kids, owns a small record label, and works as the musical director at a church.
Lima has, in his words (because he describes it better than anyone else could), “a bunch of kids, a great girl... We play sports, man: soccer and basketball is heavy in this house, kung fu, boxing ... A lot of talk-smacking — the art of it makes it kosher. We’re tight. We’ve got the good food in life, we’re about the kale and the garlic and all of that.
“Other than that, music. Straight music.”
So if you’ve got things like church and kale and kids – if you’ve got convictions and purpose and have turn smack-talk into acceptable household patter – do you really want to re-live your boy band past?
Probably not, but … it’s music. Which neither of them ever let go.
Fischetti and Lima said yes to Timmons, and joined 98 Degrees for a show last August at Brooklyn’s Coney Island — the same spot where they shot “Summer Girls” some two decades earlier.
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