The occasion was a commercial shoot for a new Target ad. The venue? Maxwell's, the revered Hoboken music club which closed on July 31 after 35 years.
"Join me & @Target tonight for just one song. Let's 'Take Back the Night.' First 150 get in. See you there!" Timberlake, 32, wrote on Twitter at 7:32 p.m.
Within minutes, thousands of fans and the news media descended on the club at Washington and 11th streets. Police used loudspeakers to try to keep the scene orderly, but the crowd spilled into the streets, the Jersey Journal reported.
The Jersey Journal / Landov
This isn't Timberlake's first surprise stunt with Target. Earlier this year, the retailer got 20 of his biggest fans together for an ad shoot and then shocked them by having Timberlake stroll on set to sing with them.
The Maxwell's gig came three days after Timberlake's big night at MTV's Video Music Awards, where he briefly reunited with 'NSYNC and won video of the year for "Mirrors."