December 7, 2010

It must be the end of the road...(Baltimore 11/13 & Falls Church 11/14)


People warned us that the Sonar is a crappy venue in a sketchy part of town. I didn't think much of this warning because someone always seems to say every venue is in a sketchy part of town. When we got there, I realized it was true. I was immediately glad we didn't bother to come early. There were homeless people everywhere, and even walking in groups was a bit scary. The closest bathroom was at a subway a few blocks away, and you had to ask for a key in order to use the bathroom. The key was given to us wired to a set of metal tongs, which further cemented my opinion of the area.

We didn't arrive until some time in the afternoon, and we were somewhere around the 60s in line. There was no walk, so we considered trying to go to the in-store performance and signing, but we didn't want to move our cars and we weren't about to walk a mile (ironic, huh?) and risk getting lost. It was cold and we were miserable and exhausted (Valerie and I drove all night with less than an hour of sleep), so we gave up trying not to be the oddballs and laid out some blankets in an attempt to catch up on a little sleep. We gave ourselves an hour to take a nap and ignored the handful of strange looks. Of course we were all so delirious at that point that instead of sleeping, we kept talking and giggling, and maybe a little of ducking and hiding, followed by more giggling. Needless to say, there was no sleep, but at least it was warm.

When we got inside, we realized there really wasn't any raised area or place to stand off to the side where you could see. You were either up front with a good view, or you weren't. There were already 2-3 rows of people filling up, but we spotted empty space by the barricade on Isaac's side, though it was very far to the left. I had to choose between standing in 2nd row behind some taller people to have an obstructed view of all 3 Hansons, or standing at the barricade and know I wouldn't see Zac at all. I decided I'd seen enough of Zac and would see him again in Falls Church and opted to stand in the front instead. It turned out to be a wise decision because somehow by the time Hanson hit the stage, the crowd had shifted enough that I could see all 3 of them just fine.

There was a door to our immediate left that seemed to lead outside, and before Hanson came on, there was a commotion and someone from the venue pulled a curtain from the stage and held it over the door, while Hanson clearly sneaked through. It kind of reminded me of someone holding up a sheet while someone changes behind it--it might cover enough to get the job done, but it's pretty obvious.

It's hard to know what to say about the concert itself because while the experience is different every time, there are only so many ways to express how awesome Voice in the Chorus is, or how much fun I had jumping during If Only, you know? I guess a few things that stand out would be Taylor getting distracted and messing up the lyrics to Penny and Me. I feel like he messed up something else during the acoustic set or shortly after as well, but I can't remember what. At the end of the acoustic set, they left the stage to Taylor for a solo, so I got pretty excited because I think this was the first solo of this leg of the tour for me. He said "Hmm, what to play..." so I attempted to shout "Believe!" but it didn't come out very loud. I'll leave it at the top of my list of songs to hear for now. He played Never Let Go instead, which of course made most of the crowd go wild, though I think it should definitely leave behind it's "rare" title by now.

At some point during the show, a really drunk girl shoved her way up to where we were and tried to get in front of us, saying she was trying to get to her friend or something. I guess that works when you're in the middle of the crowd, but she hardly needed to get between me and the barricade to get to any "friend". She knocked Sam's purse out of her hand, and sadly we haven't seen her camera since, so part of me wonders if the girl was just playing drunk fan in order to do something a little more underhanded. There was also a lovely girl behind us shouting "Kiss me, Taylor!" But there's always one of those in some variation, isn't there?

The encore, Gimme Some Lovin', was a good surprise. We were all singing and dancing to it as it was played between sets, so it was nice to hear it from Hanson, and it was also a first for me.

Overall it was a good show. Not the best area I've been to (this is what English teachers call understatement, folks), but there was zero line drama, we got a good spot without trying, the setlist was pretty good, and we weren't around anyone particularly obnoxious during the show (minus Taylor girl, but she didn't last for long).


We were all so tired and cold that we didn't bother to show up early for Falls Church either. I had my first Noodles & Co experience instead, and I'm sad to say I'm hooked even though there isn't a single one within a 3 state radius of my hometown. We joked about making tour plans revolve around which cities have a Noodles & Co in the future. Why not?

We made it back with minutes to spare before the walk. Surprisingly they were still giving out numbers, and I was #121. You can see a definite decline in caring over the course of the whole trip--I started out as #1 at the first show, then fell to 121 by the last (the decline in temperature may have been directly proportional to this decline too, however). Valerie and I got in line to pick up her tickets from will call, and Hanson came out just as it was her turn at the window. Zac turned and looked suspiciously at those of us getting tickets and asked, "Are you guys going to walk?" I told him yes, that we were just hoping to pick up our tickets first, which seemed like a satisfactory answer because he turned and followed his brothers after that. I guess maybe he thought we'd rather stay and pick up tickets? Or maybe he thought we were in line for the show already, who knows.

The walk was good, and my feet were on their way to being numb, though I vividly remember the walk I took there in October 2008 being much more brutal on my feet (or quite possibly, my feet were just wimpier back then). I managed to see the grossest debris yet on this walk as I narrowly escaped stepping on a freshly dead squirrel. I'd rather not think about the number of people who may not have been so lucky. This particular walk speech stood out to me a little more than usual because Taylor referenced the way he snapped at some fans on the St. Louis walk for not wearing their shoes. He told us he was going to deliver the same message to us, only without yelling. The rest of the speech just seemed very clear and well spoken to me, and I'm glad I went on this walk. Near the end Taylor said something about the walk not being about Hanson, and Zac, who was standing in the very back of the crowd shouted "Aren't those guys 12?" It was definitely a well-timed moment for comic relief, and so dead-on that I think several of the turning heads weren't expecting to see Zac as the source, but rather an insulting bystander.

Back at the venue, I spotted Nikki Reed standing a few feet away from Taylor, grinning, barefoot, and aiming a camera at him--all things I'm extremely used to seeing from any other fan. I heard she was coming to the show, but I was impressed to see that she took the walk as well AND did it barefoot.

Once we got inside, we debated which area would deliver the best view. Having been on Isaac's side for the vast majority of these shows, we opted for Taylor's side and stood at the front of the bar area. In retrospect, I'm not so sure I'd make that same decision again. I guess I'll pare down the rant I had going and just say that there was an extremely drunk girl who was using one of the poor guys William walked in from the VIP door as a human stripper pole. Needless to say the guys William brought moved shortly after the show began, and I don't mean Hanson.

Unfortunately, this same girl was a little distracting throughout the whole show, straying into the walkway in front of us where security had to continuously remove people. I tapped her more than once to let her know she needed to move, and I'll give her a little credit by saying that every time I tapped her, she moved without putting up a fight. I think she was just honestly so far gone that she didn't know she was being obnoxious or in the way. She definitely had a good time, at least, though I bet her morning was a bit rougher than mine.

One thing that definitely stands out to me show-wise was Zac playing Go solo on the guitar. It was absolutely beautiful and blows every other time I've heard that song live out of the water completely. At the end, he spoke to the crowd and said that since we probably knew the words, we could sing the chorus in the background as he sang the main verse. I was really impressed with how well the crowd pulled this off, and seeing the huge grin on Zac's face while hearing us was priceless. It was a really neat moment to witness and I'm glad I was there to be a part of it. Taylor singing Love Me was another highlight, though my memory of hearing it in Atlanta in 2007 has me thinking it was somehow better the first time.

The encore was ridiculously amazing too. There was a poll on and people could vote for which album they wanted the encore to come from. This Time Around won, and though I had voted for it as well in hopes of hearing In the City, they took the closing in a different, more subdued direction. They closed with Save Me, Dying to Be Alive, and A Song to Sing, all of which they livestreamed on their website. It was different from the usual crazy energetic encore, but it kind of made me sad winding down my last show like that. A Song to Sing definitely had me missing these guys already.

Since it was our last show and Lacie's birthday, we really wanted to wait by the bus and say goodbye. Zac was the only one that came out while we were there, but for what felt like the hundredth time, he politely took his time signing autographs and taking pictures with anyone that asked. When he made his way to us, Rachel and I ended up saying that it was our last show at the exact same time, then laughing because we kept doing a lot of the same things over and over as the trip progressed (in addition to being the girls with long hair, glasses, and grey sweatshirts at any given moment). I laughed and explained that I thought we were slowly becoming the same person, and he told us we were a couple of lemmings.
And while I'm sure he was going on the general connotation of the word as beings that are identical and follow each other, the actual definition is frighteningly close to what some might say of Hanson fans:

Lemming: (n) a member of any large group following an unthinking course towards mass destruction

Cue the image of a bunch of fans running off a cliff, ironically chanting "And we won't go down!"

We said goodbye to two friends that had to hit the road right after the show, then got some ridiculously good sleep and made a last trip to Noodles & Co. before hitting the road for the last time. Or I guess I should say, for the last time this tour ;-)

*I started this blog after my 11th concert. I realized there would be many more to come, and I was starting to lose little details and memories from each show already. 20 shows later (bringing the total to 31), I'm glad I started this. I know most of it doesn't mean anything to anyone but me, but I'm okay with that. It's fun to look back and remember little things I had forgotten and see how my perspective has changed over time. Here's to 20 more and then some!

December 4, 2010

Atlanta 11/10/10 & Charlotte 11/12/10

These shows were great because I got to spend time with more friends I hadn't seen (okay, hadn't seen since Halloween, at least).


We got up early the day of the show and drove to Atlanta from Orlando. Even with a good night's sleep behind us and driving during daylight hours, it felt pretty long. We arrived around 2 or 3 PM and were in the 60's in line. We also had pretty perfect timing and ended up directly next to our friends in line even without making any specific plans about meeting up.

This walk was the first I took on the trip since I worked the walk table at the FL shows, and it was also the first walk that was pitch dark outside. Bare feet + night time + Atlanta = scary combination, but I did it anyway. Atlanta was actually the first city I ever took the walk in over three years ago, so I was glad I got to participate. As per my usual, I ended up at the back of the walk before the halfway speech, which added an extra layer of creepy. As we neared the end, a small group of us got stuck at a red light with Zac leading the way as everyone else got away. Or was that Charlotte? I'm not sure anymore, but it's entirely possible that it happened twice.
Getting in line after the walk was, once again, chaotic. This time I had a will call ticket that wasn't released until 6 or so, so after we came back from the walk, there was a massive crowd taking over the front of the venue. The venue/Hanson tried to separate the line in two, with walkers on the left and non-walkers on the right. The box office was located directly between the two lines, so you can see how this got messy fast. It was impossible to discern who was trying to get a ticket and who was trying to smash themselves into the walk line. I talked to the people around me and found that I was standing behind 3 people who also needed tickets, so we reasoned that we were as "in line" as we were going to get. We stood waiting for what had to have been at least 15 minutes without ever moving, even though it was obvious other people were managing to get tickets. It was so packed that when I looked back, I saw Taylor and Isaac looking around looking like they were trying to assess the situation to find a hole in the crowd so they could get back inside. Instead, Taylor had to push his way through, and I ended up sandwiched even closer than I already was when he went past us. In the end, those of us needing will call tickets had to forcibly push past lots of people who were "in line" for the show.

As soon as I got my ticket I got out of the mess and found my other friends in line, past the big cluster of people, thankfully. Being in the front is great, but sometimes it feels equally as great to relax further back and not have to worry about all of the chaos.

When we got inside, we saw that each side of the venue had raised sections with chairs and tables. There were probably 4 on each side, and each one was raised slightly higher than the one below it, so they offered a good view. It was the perfect size for all 6 of us to spread out across the front of one. It was so nice to be able to sit before the show and during the set change, and it was especially nice for the pregnant one of the bunch.

The show was great, with the exception of closing with The Ugly Truth. I love my Hanson, but I can't love that song no matter how hard I try to. I think Taylor loves it because he gets to run around the stage uninhibited and jump from the piano, but it's a little bit of a crowd killer. People don't seem to sing along so much or jump around, and it's just generally not one of my favorites. I had a great time dancing with my friends during the rest of the show, though. We all did the TBS dance, or what we could in a confined space, anyway. Though I've heard Strong Enough to Break probably a dozen times in the past, it felt more special that night after having quit my job recently. It was definitely my own personal anthem for a little while during that time. We were all a little ridiculous acting out Oh Darling again, and of course we danced during Give a Little.

This was the 2nd time I watched as a guy and a girl were pulled on stage (not counting my own experience), and the whole thing ran pretty smoothly. Taylor picked the guy out first and then let the guy pick the girl, which I thought was cute. They did a good job going with the flow and looked like they had a good time up there. Suddenly I wonder if a lack of guys near the front ever has any impact over whether or not they do the whole dance bit on a given night, but this guy was in the front row ready to go, so it worked out. (after seeing the stage in Baltimore and St. Pete, I realize that stage size must be another important factor in the planning. No way would they want someone tripping and ripping out important cords on on of those tiny stages!)

We waited out by the bus with Heather because it was her last show, and we were thoroughly entertained by some cats as we waited. Someone had propped the stage door open with a brick, and we all watched and laughed as a cat stealthily sneaked (that's right, sneaked. Snuck isn't a word no matter how much better it sounds) past the door and into the venue. When a worker came out, we let him know, and we laughed even harder as moments later we saw the cat come running out after clearly having been chased. It gets better, though. Instead of being scared off, the cat returned with a tiny cat gang, and we watched incredulously as not one, but THREE cats slipped through the door a second time. This time when they were chased out, the door was shut firmly behind them, lesson learned. There was also the creepy remains of what must have been some kind of Halloween costume laying off to the side in some overgrown weeds. It was metallic silver and looked like some kind of space suit without a head, but the body still retained shape, so if you didn't look carefully, it looked like a shiny dead body thrown by the wayside. I should have taken a picture for sure. Zac was the only Hanson to come out, and once again he took his time with the fans, giving out both autographs and pictures. I caught a random piece of conversation where he mentioned having been naked at some point, and stating that he couldn't remember whether or not he was in the shower at the time. No idea what that was about! He also seemed enamored with Megan's little brother and was all smiles while talking to him. Her brother got Zac to autograph the back of his hand, and Zac warned that he was a little sick and didn't want to spread germs. A few days later when my cough came into full force, I realized he wasn't lying.


I can't remember what time we showed up for this one; some time between 12 and 3 is my best estimate. I think we were somewhere between 50-70 in line (this is why I need to start forcing myself to write this stuff down closer to when it actually happened). It was Valerie's Birthday and we were all really excited to be there. Two friends even came to surprise everyone else and didn't let it slip that they were coming, which was fantastic. I think in all there were...8 of us that stood together in the balcony. I'll cut off the numbers there because I think we'd reach the upper teens if I included everyone we were collectively friends with at the show; it was definitely like a big party!This was dark walk #2, and this time I smartened up and fished my flashlight out of the trunk (or rather, Rachel mentioned how useful it would be to have a flashlight, and I realized I actually had one somewhere in the car). It got really cold that night for some reason, and stepping in freezing mud wasn't one of the highlights of the day. Once again I ended up in the back of the walk, and I think Valerie and I were actually dead last at one point. I think Valerie or Rachel commented on the lack of fire ants since previous Charlotte walks, and Isaac turned around and added that it was probably too cold for them. I'd believe it. On the way back, our group got cut off from the front portion by a red light and traffic once again, and Taylor waited impatiently on the other side of the road. As we finally crossed, Taylor stood defiantly in front of a big truck to make sure we made it. As we passed him, the guy in the truck actually started revving his engine in a threatening way. As Taylor stepped away and the truck drove off, I heard "Hey, ya'll, I've got a big truck!" in that mock-hick voice, followed by a chorus of giggles. Back in line, I met back up with all of my friends and found out just how awesome Taylor had been to Morgen, and my respect for them grew even more.

When we got inside, we headed for the balcony on Isaac's side and got decent spots where we could see (well, as decent as you can get at Amos's without being on stage. There really is no decent spot in that venue between the random poles and high-mounted speakers). I thought the crowd was going to be horribly dull watching their reaction to Jarrod Gorbel, but they perked right up for Hanson. Oddly I think out of the whole trip, this was the worst reaction I saw for Jarrod, and the best reaction I saw for Hanson. How sad.

The show had great energy and a great setlist. I'm tempted to say it was my favorite of this leg because of the people I was with; we had so much fun that night. Change in My Life had several of us in tears; it was an awesome moment for sure. Give a Little and Lost Without Each Other brought a full on dance party where we quit looking over the balcony at the stage all together and just let loose. I think I had my back to the stage for the entirety of both of those songs. To anyone else, we probably looked like crazy drunk people, but really, we were just ridiculously happy. In the City brought the perfect end to the perfect show, and Rachel and I had just been talking about how we wanted to hear it as a closer. We jumped like crazy after dancing like crazy, and we walked out feeling like we had been beaten up, but in a good way. That is probably the most tired I've ever been after a show, which was really unfortunate since we had a 7 hr drive to Baltimore and we planned to leave immediately. After cupcakes and hugs, a few bittersweet goodbyes and a cracked hubcap, we hit the road yet again.

*1/18/11  I'm not going to edit this entry because it makes for a good laugh, and quite frankly, I obviously don't really remember enough details to correct the error anyway. As Valerie pointed out in the comments, she didn't even take the walk in Charlotte, so scratch all of the stuff I attributed to her on that walk. I think maybe it was Whitney U.? How the heck do I not know who I walked with in Charlotte? I guess when the number of friends I saw matches the number of shows I went to on that leg, things can get confusing.