If you’re reading this, you've either asked me this question yourself, or you've been asked it at least a dozen times. Here's a completely inadequate explanation of why.
1. Amazing music.
It’s the obvious answer, but it's the cornerstone of this obsession and can’t be left unsaid. The harmonies, the lyrics, the instruments, the energy, the passion…all of the variables they put into making music just work for me on some higher level, and I can’t get enough. If you find something that makes you happy, you hold onto it.
2. Every show is completely unique.
It’s amazing how you can technically do the same thing over and over again without it ever really being the same twice. I can easily pick out at least one memorable moment from every single show I’ve been to. Think of it like Friends episodes—there’s The one with the smashed birthday cake, the one where they played with Cheap Trick, the one where Zac screamed in my face, etc. You’ve seen it before, you have an idea what’s going to happen, but you can’t help but watch it again and again.
Because it’s impossible to do this and not end up with friends all over the country. Each show is more than a chance to reunite with Hanson, it's a reunion with friends. Whether it’s the fact that we’re all easily persuaded into going to shows (cookies, anyone?), or I don’t bother planning to go to shows without them anymore, I haven’t been to a show alone since 2007. It's about more than seeing three boys.
habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine
No matter what else is going on in my life, for that hour or two I’m in a crowd, there’s nothing else. It's safer and more satisfying than drugs, kids.
You never just see Hanson; there's so much more on the way. Chicago, Disney World, a giant statue of Superman in Metropolis, Tulsa, Oklahoma of all places, Arkansas mountaintops, Noodles & Company. Next month I’ll visit 7 states I’ve never been to before and a handful of others I’ve already had the pleasure of seeing courtesy of these guys. They’re an excellent excuse to see the world and feel at home at the same time.
6. The joy of randomness and the unknown.
While you may end up in Chicago or Disney World at some other point in life with or without following a band, there are some experiences I never would have had otherwise. Sleeping on sidewalks, showering at truck stops, walking barefoot in countless cities, wearing goofy homemade group Halloween costumes, being extras in a music video, renting a Cadillac and driving it halfway across the country, accidentally dialing 911 on the corkscrew of a roller coaster. All ridiculous, and all things that never would have had a reason to happen otherwise.
Then there's the randomness and unknown factor of being at a show and knowing that virtually anything is possible. They sing a song you've wanted to hear for 10 years, they bring out a special guest you never expected, God forbid that special guest you never expected is YOU, they throw birthday cake, they cover "Oh Darling!" and leave you feeling like you've betrayed the Beatles by liking it more when Zac sings it. And anything could happen until you walk out of the door and leave wanting more.
7. The joy of familiarity.
Sometimes the parts you know are going to happen are just as good as the surprises. The 30th time you spin your hand around during "Where's the Love," the way you've sang Penny and Me so many times that the crowd carries on even when Taylor messes up, the way you respond to the cowbell in TBS like you're one of Pavlov's dogs. There's a reason you always order a number 6 at Wendy's, right? You're okay with the same experiences over and over again because they're the ones you enjoy most.
8. In an MMMBop they’re gone.
It’s cheesy, but I’m not going to be young and free enough to do this forever. I know that one day maybe soon, I'll inevitably end up with more responsibilities and less free time, and I'll be able to do a show or two per tour if I'm lucky. I intend to milk this time for all it's worth and not look back and wish I had done something fun. Because in 50 years, I'd rather still be answering "why did you" than "why didn't you."
This post now has a sequel, located HERE.