October 29, 2009

Charlotte 10/22/09

I was really excited for this show because I had never seen a birthday show before and most of my friends were traveling to see the show as well. My 3 friends that I traveled with to the event in DC camped out starting Monday morning, and I joined them Tuesday afternoon around 6. Oddly enough, I still managed to be #4 because no one arrived in between us, which was nice. I know it's completely crazy and I have never camped out for that long before (2 days, the show was Thursday), but it was fun and well worth it for front row on Zac's birthday. It was definitely interesting to say the least. Let's just say there was a schizophrenic guy who gave us God's phone number and kept proposing to my friend, in addition to an anonymous perv in a car who tried to put on a little show for us, which ended in us calling the cops and giving them the car and license plate info.

The cheap hotel I booked for showering purposes also proved to be an interesting experience. Around 8 of us split it and went in shifts to shower, but none of us actually slept there or used anything other than the bathroom. I hit a traffic snag on the way to check out, and was afraid I was going to miss the 11 AM deadline, so I called the hotel while I waited to let them know I was on the way and did not want to be charged for an extra day. We ended up getting there with a few minutes to spare, but when we got there our room door was open and all of my stuff was gone. A very tense argument with some workers who weren't 100% fluent in English ensued since our room had been cleaned BEFORE checkout time and I was being yelled out for returning to my own room that was in MY name. We finally worked out the misunderstanding; my friends were allowed to use the bathroom, and I was given my things back. Fail, Days Inn, fail!

I was a little surprised in the lack of early campers, but it worked out because all of my friends who couldn't come until late the night before still got second row right behind me. The night before the show, there were still only around 20 people in line. The walk was probably my favorite that I've been on. The weather was great, the campus at UNCC was beautiful (and not too painful), there was a really good turnout, and everyone was in a great mood. I ended up getting some really good pictures with my new camera, too (which I also found out on the walk is the same camera Zac got for his birthday).

The line got a little dramatic towards the end with a group of girls lingering next to the line about 40 people back, refusing to get back in their spots further back in the line. There was also a couple who said they had won a pass to see the soundcheck but had missed it (which I totally believe), but they then decided to just hang around the front of the line to compensate their loss. They finally left after being yelled at by everyone in line and being spoken to privately by a bouncer.

The show was great, though admittedly not as wonderful as I thought a birthday show would be. The lighting was really crappy, and the sound was off enough that if I hadn't known all the words to the songs, I wouldn't have known what was going on. I ended up front row directly in front of Isaac, though, which made for a great view. At the end of the acoustic set, I noticed a toy truck zooming around on stage, and I'm pretty sure most people couldn't see it, but it didn't last long.

Don't Stop Believing was pretty epic, as always, and moreso from front row on Zac's birthday. He ended it with a lengthier, awkward crotch grab, which I'm sure someone caught on video since there were cameras everywhere. The caking was a little less exciting because only one measly bit was thrown towards the crowd, but a small piece did manage to hit my friend who was standing next to me in the eye, and there was a good chunk next to me on the floor when we left. Overall it was good, but I think the crappiness of the venue killed it a little bit for me.

*More pictures can be found in my photobucket, linked on the right-hand side of my blog.

October 27, 2009

DC Fan Club Event

I don't have a whole lot to say for this one since it was a short show and nobody really waited in line for an extended period of time. It was a good time, but I would be tempted to say it wasn't really worth the drive if they hadn't pulled out Devil's Nachos for the first time. I drove to Charlotte to meet up with 3 friends and we all rode together from there. We drove there and back in the same day, which was really intense and left me sprinting back to class on no sleep with no shower just like Chicago. It's becoming a bad habit, really. I was a little terrified to drive in DC, but it really wasn't that bad, thankfully. And we found valet parking for $5 attached to the hotel, so that was pretty perfect.

The show itself was good, but the setup was horrible. There were lots of rows of chairs, but not nearly enough for everyone. I totally called that the people who arrived last would get to sit on the floor up front, and I was right. I'm not at all angry with those people--they got pretty lucky! And I had some friends up there. However, it caused some definite tension in the crowd and people were getting kind of riled up over having waited in line for a while only to have people who didn't wait at all get to sit a foot in front of Hanson. Some people got out of their seats and sat on the floor, but I didn't see any point in adding to the tension. It wouldn't have been such a big deal if the chairs weren't arranged in a way so that NO ONE but the people in the front or on the very end of an aisle could see. I had to just trust that Isaac was there because I didn't see him at all until the group photos.

The performance was great, though I feel like Taylor was still battling the tail end of the flu. He sounded fine to me but he looked a bit strained to hit higher notes at one point. I was a little disappointed in the setlist because I expected them to pull out some rarer things, but the only song I hadn't heard was Devil's Nachos. As a HUGE fan of that song, though, I was completely ecstatic not only to be hearing it live, but to be hearing it as it was played live for the first time ever. Zac introduced it by saying we were welcome to sing along as we were now officially allowed to know that it existed. It was definitely the highlight of the night. I'm not going to lie, though, I feel like Follow Your Lead could have stayed home. Another highlight was Kiss Me When You Come Home. I heard it back in may, but it was neat to hear it again having heard it only that one time. There's something different about hearing new music live that you don't know the words to, and it's not a feeling you get to experience often.

I was a little disappointed in the Q&A session as well;I don't remember what all was asked, but several questions were variations of things that have definitely been asked and answered before. One girl asked if Been there Before had an Otis Redding and Johnny Cash reference. Beyond the fact that I feel like this is common knowledge and not worth using up one of the few questions we were allowed, the girl framed the question by pretty much saying "I already asked this on a walk and I think you said yes, but I wanted to make sure...." Fail. I'm hesitant to call out this person on the grounds that I should feel bad, but no, I think it was selfish to use up a question that you already asked just to draw attention to yourself for a second time. Someone asked what they were dressing as for Halloween, but they said they hadn't really thought about it. They ended up saying they were going to dress as Hellogoodbye, but I don't know how serious they were about that. Someone else asked where they were during Sept. 11th (appropriate since we were in DC near the pentagon), and they said they were in LA working on Underneath. Isaac gave a pretty eloquent answer off the top of his head; I was impressed.

Another girl prefaced a question by saying she had done research on it, but then proceeded to fail by stating that she thought they lived in New York. She basically asked why Hanson didn't step it up and work with governors (or senators? sorry, don't even remember--some type of representative) more in taking action. It received a few boos, but I feel like the guys did a great job answering and explaining that more can be done by appealing to the masses, and that they have in fact spoken with the people she suggested. I'm hardcore failing to explain their answer, but they did a fantastic job defending themselves and supporting their position.

The group pictures were pretty large, probably 15-20 people in each as usual. My friends and I were in one of the later ones, which is something I haven't experienced in the past being in the first and second group photos at the other two events I've been to. I'm not sure why, but I walked up to Taylor and told him I was short so I needed to be down front, so he moved me to the center of the bottom row next to Isaac. I don't really recall him moving other people around, so I don't know why it seemed reasonable at the time to tell him where I needed to go in the picture. Afterwards, I went to shake his hand but someone else started talking to him at the same time, so he got really distracted and more or less ended up awkwardly holding my hand for a few seconds without shaking it. Two of my friends went up to Zac and hugged him and said "See you in Charlotte!" so I decided to jump on that bandwagon, but for some reason I half apologized while doing it. I'm pretty sure I said "Sorry, I'm going to do it too," (really? Is it ever appropriate to say that when you hug someone?) then hugged him and said "See you in Charlotte!" He said I was succumbing to peer pressure and he understood. I had never hugged any of them and felt pretty awkward about it; I don't think I'll be asking for a hug from one of them again; in the future I'll just let it just happen if such a situation ever comes up, and if not, no more hugs. But Taylor did jokingly say Zac was going to hug every person at the event, and I did see him giving a LOT of hugs, so I'll just assume it was okay. I tried to get back to Isaac to shake his hand and tell him I enjoyed the show, but got herded out on the way and didn't get to greet him.

All in all it was a good show that could have been a little better, but I'm glad I went and I can't wait to see the group picture.

*This is proof as to why I should never begin a post with "I don't have much to say..." I will ultimately prove myself wrong.
I love this picture simply because I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was being an Isaac twin at the time.

Chicago 10/11-10/12/09

This trip is probably the craziest thing I've ever attempted. These shows fell on my fall break and I had a lot of friends going, so it only seemed right to tag along. It gets complicated, though, because I'm from South Carolina and it's a LONG drive to Chicago. I drove 6 hrs to Knoxville to meet up with some friends to carpool. We left Sat. night to pick up another friend in the St. Louis area, which was about 7 hrs from Knoxville. From St. Louis, it was another 5 hrs to Chicago. After driving through the night and taking a bit longer than anticipated, we decided we desperately needed a shower but were not going to make it to Chicago in time to do it at our hotel. Instead, we experienced our first truck stop showers at a Love's on the way. It was $9 and they provided towels. All in all, it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. I always pictured a sort of high school gym shower setup for truckstops, but no, there are individual shower rooms with showers, toilets, mirrors, and sinks inside--very private. I can't say the idea of drying off with a towel that has been used by truckers was exactly appealing, but hey, you do what you have to do.

 We somehow managed to arrive in Chicago right at 10 min. before the walk, which was pretty much a miracle. I stuck around the back of the walk because that's just what I do, and though I rarely see a Hanson on the walks, for some reason Taylor was overly watchful this time. We kept catching all the red lights at the back, so Taylor kept running back to stop traffic with his megaphone, then sprinting back up closer to the front. No lie, he did it like 6 times. I felt like I had a personal trainer egging me on! It was nice in theory, but he kept standing in the way of oncoming traffic to "help" us cross the road in situations where we were really fine. I don't really know how to describe exactly what he was doing without a picture, so maybe this will help. Just notice us all safely herded in the crosswalk while Taylor haphazardly stands with his back to oncoming traffic.
At this point when I passed him, I called out "You know you're in more danger than we are right now, don't you?" And he responded through the megaphone "Yeah, I am....but I'm the loudest." Thankfully no traffic decided to challenge his lame claim to safety due to a measly megaphone.

My friends and I didn't really bother to get a good spot in line and just headed over a little before doors. We ended up with a pretty good spot where we could all stand together and see. I've got to say, writing this in retrospect after having seen 7 shows on this tour, I think the first Chicago show was the best. Maybe it was just being with a lot of high energy friends, but it was amazing. I heard A Song to Sing for the first time which was really exciting, and I don't even know how to describe how I felt when the guys from Cheap Trick came out and Hanson covered I Want You to Want me. Hands down best concert surprise ever! I think that's the only time I have ever let out an involuntary scream.

The next day most of my friends and I walked to the walk, which was 2 miles away at a college campus. It was actually pretty fun with about 8 of us walking around seeing the city, and it really wasn't as cold as I expected. The walk was good, though it didn't seem like a lot of the students on campus were interested. I did get to explain what we were doing to 2 or 3 people though, so it was good that people were voicing their curiosity at least. As we left the walk we took the best jumping picture ever; I'm still pretty excited about it (I'm in the pink).We decided to get in line immediately when we got back (after a group trip to a 7-11 for some Chicago style hotdogs), and though the walk stamps didn't seem to mean anything the day before, they actually let people with walk stamps into the pass the line line. They seem to really appreciate the effort people put into going to walks that aren't at the venue rather than sitting at the venue to save a spot in line, and we were rewarded for it. Most of us ended up with the same spot we were in the night before, which was exactly what we wanted, though a couple decided to brave 2ndish row. It was a lot of fun, and though it was probably my 14th time or so hearing MMMBop, it was the best time because we all danced and had a blast, and we made a five person "too much rock for one hand" symbol at the end. I don't think Hanson saw it, but it was a great idea nonetheless. I was a little surprised that the setlist was a little less amazing than the night before, but I had an awesome time anyway. There's something really special about seeing a show with good friends who enjoy the music in the same way you do.

The drive home was absolutely insane. We left around 5-6 AM, but we dawdled a lot. One of the things that slowed us down was a trip into Metropolis, IL. As a HUGE Smallville fan, I felt like an idiot to discover that Metropolis is, in fact, a REAL city. I had no idea. Of course we stopped to take pictures with the huge superman, and had a little Hanson nerdery (think "that's supa!") while we were there too.

Somehow we didn't end up in Knoxville until 2 AM the next morning, where I crashed and slept until 4 AM at a friend's house (thank you, friend! Seriously, I think you saved my life), then dragged myself back to my car for the 6 more hrs back to school. I parked my car at 10:45, which was lovely since I had a class at 11. I literally ran from my parking garage to my room to grab my books and then ran to class just in time. I hadn't slept or showered in over a day, but I made it. Sometimes you just need a little crazy in your life, and I definitely got my fair share this fall break.