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 hanson.net 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!