Like his ‘N Sync buddy Justin Timberlake, J.C. Chasez just wants to be taken seriously. It’s clear from his solo debut, “Schizophrenic” (Jive), with songs about sex and masturbation that often don’t fall into typical boyband rhythms. And it’s definitely clear from his live show, which opens with a stripper removing everything but her bra and panties before Chasez emerges to sing “All Day Long I Dream About Sex,” a faux-electroclash workout that Chasez obviously feels represents him as an adult. When Timberlake performs, there’s a sense of history and musicianship; with Chasez, he’s just repeating the boyband maxim: entertain, entertain, entertain.
Though his material is strictly B list (with the notable exception of last year’s drum-bumping single “Blowing Me Up,” a guilty pleasure if ever there was one) Chasez does his best to overcome it in syncopated dance moves and a show choreographed to make the audience forget it’s in a club rather than an arena. The stage is covered with padded walls and the band draped in hospital scrubs (Schizophrenic — get it?). Chasez’s female dancers are toned and leggy, while his male dancers are perfectly chiseled. It’s all designed to gloss over Chasez himself, who’s barely comfortable as the center of attention, stumbling over words in between songs (“I can’t talk today,” he said, at one point.)
It makes sense, then, that the show is at its best when embracing boyband cliches, both in the music and the dance steps, and at its weakest when Chasez lets loose his inner Gahan as sole frontman for the show’s ’80s rock-type songs. There’s barely a hint of his former self as an ‘N Syncer (a 30-second tease of “The Game Is Over” is all that’s there for the group’s longtime fans), but Chasez hasn’t quite grown up yet.
He got giddy after performing a cover of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” but it doesn’t mean he’s anywhere near Prince’s level. For that, he’d still have to talk to his old pal Timberlake.