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‘TRL’ lives again as summer concert season sets its sights on millennial nostalgia

98 Degrees -- Justin Jeffre, left, Jeff Timmons, Nick Lachey and Drew Lachey -- during their late '90s peak as teen pop heartthrobs.
98 Degrees -- Justin Jeffre, left, Jeff Timmons, Nick Lachey and Drew Lachey -- during their late ‘90s peak as teen pop heartthrobs.
(Los Angeles Times)

For pop music fans born in the late ’80s, there isn’t a summer more pivotal than 1999.

Boy band heartthrobs and pop princesses were all the rage. MTV’s “Total Request Live” was required after-school viewing. Nickelodeon even sponsored the first music festival catered to kids, headlined by boy band 98 Degrees.

Nearly two decades later, those same “kids” are still spending their money on music festivals -- but now with a nostalgic bent.

Nineties hip-hop label Bad Boy has launched a tour. Gwen Stefani and Eve will hit the road. Even boy band 98 Degrees is taking advantage of aughts fever this summer with a new outing.

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“It seems like the nostalgia thing is becoming the in vogue way to tour these days,” said 98 Degrees’ Nick Lachey.

Lachey and 98 Degrees will top-line the My2K Tour, launching in July, which pairs them with former teen-dreams who once dominated “TRL,” including Ryan Cabrea, O-Town and Dream.

The 35-date tour stops in L.A. on Aug. 25 at the Microsoft Theater, where tickets range from $35 to $99.50.

“People really enjoy that era of music,” Lachey said of the ’90s and ’00s. “It was a feel-good time in music, and frankly, our country.”

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Lachey said his group had been looking to go on the road since 2013’s Package tour — then their first in 12 years — which paired them with Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block.

Bundling newly christened heritage acts together made the most sense, Lachey said, considering past success with the concept.

“Every summer, you see it. Guys like Def Leppard and Styx and all of these bands go out together,” he said.

Yet tours based on fond memories rather than current hits are no longer just the providence of boomers or Generation X. A recent report from the Pew Research Center, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, pegged millennials, defined as those ages 18 to 34 in 2015, as America’s largest generation at 75.4 million.

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Millennials are all grown up, and it’s never too early, apparently, to start looking back.

“You’re seeing it in hip-hop, with Puffy and the Bad Boy tour,” Lachey said. “New Kids has done it in a smart way [recently] with Nelly and TLC last year and Backstreet Boys before that. So we thought what kind of bill could we put together for the summer to appeal to collective fan bases?

“For fans, its a chance to come back together and take a walk down memory lane.”

Members of 112, French Montana, "Puff Daddy" and Lil' Kim perform at Barclays Center on May 20 in Brooklyn.
Members of 112, French Montana, “Puff Daddy” and Lil’ Kim perform at Barclays Center on May 20 in Brooklyn.
(Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for Live Nation )

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Stefani is hitting the road in support of her first solo record in a decade, “This Is What the Truth Feels Like.” But this time she’ll do so with addition of special guest Eve.

The pair collaborated on two huge hits in the early aughts. Thus, the tour feels in part like a nod to Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” era of 2004, which no doubt defined high school for the bulk of her fans. The tour launches in July and concludes in October, with two nights at the Forum (Oct. 15-16), where tickets range from $29.95 to $170.

Gwen Stefani, left, and Eve at the 2005 Grammy Awards.
Gwen Stefani, left, and Eve at the 2005 Grammy Awards.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times )

Then there’s the I Love the 90’s tour, which is tailor made for music fans who yearn for the days of “TGIF.”

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The trek, which started as spot dates and morphed into a full-fledged outing, packages hip-hop and R&B stars responsible for some of the most indelible hits of the early ’90s.

Vanilla Ice, Salt-N-Pepa, Kid ’n Play, Tone Loc, Coolio, Color Me Badd, Kool Moe Dee, Rob Base, Young MC and All-4-One are part of the revolving line-up that will stop at the Santa Barbara Bowl on July 3 (tickets: $44.50 to $119.50).

Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs has built the summer’s most ambitious throwback package with his Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour that brings together the original roster of multi-platinum acts affiliated with Bad Boy for the first time in celebration of the label’s 20th anniversary.

Combs, who reverted to his old Puff Daddy moniker for the occasion, previewed the highly anticipated tour with a two nights of sold-out shows in New York City.

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Expect plenty of tributes to Combs’ fallen friend and protege Notorious B.I.G. and massive R&B/hip-hop hits from Mase, Faith Evans, Lil’ Kim, Total, the Lox, 112, Carl Thomas and Mario Winans.

The Bad Boy tour launches in late August and will stop at the Forum on Oct. 4, where tickets range from $29.50 to $199.50.

“I think people enjoy getting a chance to relive those moments,” Lachey said. “That’s the beauty of music. When you hear a song, it immediately takes you back to where you were when you heard it the first time. For a lot of people, those are very fond memories.”

gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

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