November 24, 2011

Eat to the Beat: Epcot Food & Wine Festival 2011

10/31/11

If you consult Urban Dictionary (and let's face it--you do), you'll find this entry about "bananas":

1. a slang word derived from the old saying "bananas" used to describe someone that was crazy. Used now to describe anything in style or cool.


Turns out it also means a half-price, one-size-fits-all costume acquired in mass quantities from K-Mart just hours before Halloween. All definitions seem to fit this situation.

We wanted to dress up for Halloween, but we didn't have the room to pack costumes or the time and money to stop and find new ones. Just as we were about to give up and resign ourselves to the predictable Mickey ears, opportunity presented itself in the form of a $12 polyester banana suit. I picked up one and joked that one of us should wear it. Then we saw the second one lying a few feet away, and the light bulbs went off.

I have to say I'm a little irked that our costumes were such a hit this year after we spent weeks planning and designing what turned out to be an epic fail last year. Turns out people appreciate the simplicity of a banana more than the complexity of a Hare Band, and that's all there is to it. So we got lots of smiles and cheesy banana jokes thrown our way, and more than a few pictures snapped from a distance. Then there were the people that enjoyed it so much that they asked for pictures with us (most of whom were also enjoying the wine aspect of the food & wine festival). I'd love to see their faces the next day as they looked back at their pictures and went "Wait...I met bananas?" or better yet "Wait...I saw Hanson?" I hope both were a pleasant surprise.

We had a blast dancing around and, well, going bananas (did you really think I'd let it go that easily?). Another highlight of the day? An impromptu M&G with the main event themselves, complete with a kiss on the cheek and a picture to prove it. That's right, I finally met Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Sorry, Hanson. You got trumped.


Hanson went as Storm Troopers:





11/1/11

We spent the second day trying to do everything we didn't get to on day one, which boils down to the Tower of Terror, the Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, and a whole lot of eating.

I ate my way around the world in about three hours.
Coq Au Vin in France

Goulash in Germany

California Rolls in Japan

Strawberry Tart in France

Gelato in Italy

Perogies in Poland (my personal favorite)

Ravioli in Italy

By the end of the night, there was certainly no empty space left deep down inside to mourn the loss of Hanson at the end of another tour.

November 21, 2011

St. Petersburg, Ft. Lauderdale


St. Petersburg 10/28/11

Depending on how you count things, the St. Pete show was my 50th (ish) time seeing Hanson. Landmark material, right? And how better to celebrate than by getting a great spot and hearing your favorite album? Still, I think the fact that they recorded this show made it lose a little something for me. Hanson was aware of the cameras. I was aware of the cameras. And while I'd like to believe that none of us act any different with cameras, I think it's impossible to completely forget their presence. It's hard to dance like nobody's watching when you know there's the potential for repeated viewing if you happen to do something horrible enough to warrant an instant replay or six.

It was also the most cramped I've ever felt at a show. In fact, I might even prefer plain old-fashioned pushing to being thigh-to-thigh and shoulder-to-shoulder with the people around me. At least with pushing, there are ways to make it stop. When you're crammed in so tight that you can feel the girl five people down reaching into her pocket for her cell phone, there's not really much you can do but stay still and hope someone else caves first.

Despite all this, I had a great time. I finally got to hear Lullabelle live, which I suppose means something by default since I branded myself as "Hollybelle" the moment I rediscovered these guys. After the show, we waited by the bus. I decided like 20 shows ago that I should try to get pictures with Hanson at my 50th show; it seems like the obvious thing to do, right? Only that night, the thought didn't even cross my mind (and hasn't until right now). Instead, we let the guys pick out stickers to add to the maps in our tour books. I suppose in the end I'd rather have those silly little stickers than a picture I could recreate after any given show. Maybe I'll remember to get a picture when I hit #100.


(nevermind the "50" residing over Atlanta instead of St. Pete. I'm still not sure which really was #50)

Ft. Lauderdale 10/29/11

The Shout it Out story was probably the best of the three I saw, if for no better reason than Isaac's sassy attitude. He kept joking and snapping his hand back and forth for no apparent reason, and it was hilarious. Someone asked something about unreleased songs, which triggered Zac not only to admit to the existence of some song called "President of Gas," but to also break out into it. Isaac immediately joined in while Taylor looked the other way like he didn't know the other two goofballs on stage much less share any genes with them. He finally gave in and added a third harmony at the very end of the brief preview we got. It was entertaining for sure, but I can't say I foresee it finding a home on any future album.

The end of the tour felt a little strange because this show was technically the last, but the two Epcot shows directly after threw everything off. They weren't really part of the tour, but putting them after the final show made it feel like we didn't get a real ending. Standing in another sold out crowd that night, though, it finally felt like a last show to me. The energy was high, the setlist was really good, and I finally got to hear SIO for the first time of the Musical Ride Tour after hearing every other album at least three times. I ended the tour the same way I began it:  in my favorite silver ballet flats. On day one, I took a picture in my front row seat with my favorite shoes resting against the stage. On the way out of the last show, I tossed them in the trash because they'd been rocked a little too hard (not to mention completely soaked from the rain).

November 16, 2011

Norfolk, Charlotte, Atlanta


Norfolk 10/23/11


Occupy Norfolk wins for being the best occupy group we encountered. They had fliers to hand out and seemed to actually know why they were there, and they were really nice and brought us snacks and brand new pillows without us asking for a thing.

And then there was the incident nobody really understands. Let's just say there was some expired NyQuil, a homeless man, and a lot of confused shouting involved. No one will ever really know what happened that night, but I have a feeling that it may be for the best.

For some reason I really wasn't feeling the show when it started. I felt sick and out of it and generally miserable--perhaps some latent affects of the NyQuil? Or maybe I was just run down from being sick in the first place, but I spent the entire time before the show began with my head resting on the barricade, and it took a lot to not do the same through Charlie Mars's set. Even the first few Hanson songs didn't do it for me, but at some point I got over it and had a good time.

No thanks to the crazy girls pushing in the crowd, of course. I was never directly hit by whoever was doing it, but the girl behind me got shoved into my back repeatedly. Normal at a GA show, right? Except I turned and looked several times to see a whole group of girls being slammed into each other and trying to call for security, but they were too far back for anyone to notice. For a few seconds, it looked like someone was trying to start a mosh pit. I was able to motion to a guard off to the side who finally came over to check out what was going on. As soon as he came and stood over the barricade, about 10 hands shot into the air and all pointed at the same two girls, who then looked around as if they didn't know what was going on. If it were a cartoon, they would have been whistling and looking shiftily at the sky. I ended up having to call security over twice more and I think the culprits were finally removed, but not before throwing a full cup of beer over the barricade and all over my friends, and not before Isaac noticed and gave a brief speech about "watching over" the people around you before starting "Watch Over Me."

Then while we jumped during "If Only," the barricade in front of us rocked back so hard I thought for a second that it was going to fall on us. My friend a few people down with a different segment in front of her said she only ever felt hers shift forward a few inches closer to the stage. The one in front of me literally fell in towards us at about a 45 degree angle before landing back in its original position. I think we all jumped a little more carefully after that.

Out by the bus we thanked Isaac for his attempt to calm the crazies behind us in the crowd, and he ranted with us about how obnoxious it is for people to pay good money to have their time ruined by that kind of behavior. There was talk of hypothetically wanting to punch such people, but I think his mind changed when he thought about the ratio of male to female in the crowd. "Of course, I don't hit women," he recanted with a grin. Neither do I, Isaac. But that doesn't stop me from really wanting to sometimes.

Charlotte 10/25/11

I'll get my rant out of the way first. I HATE Amos' Southend, have hated it since I was unfortunate enough to witness my first full-length Hanson concert there in 2007, and have continued to hate it all five times I've been there. Why? The sound sucks, the lighting sucks, and you can't see from anywhere.

But for all the crappiness of the venue, the guys always put on a particularly good show in Charlotte. And to continue a tradition, this one was a day after my friend Laura's birthday (last year it was on Valerie's birthday). To carry on a different tradition, we surprised Laura with cupcakes and then unceremoniously smashed them in her face. It was a good night.



P.S. Props to Holly #2 for making some amazing cookie dough cupcakes!


Atlanta 10/26/11

Little Five Points:  home of the weird and creepy. This year we met a girl dressed in pirate attire who introduced herself as a pirate ninja. Funny, I always thought the two were mortal enemies in the books of nerds everywhere, but she clearly didn't follow anything by the book.

I always say the shows are good, but this one was particularly good. The energy of the crowd seemed extra strong, and that can make or break a show. Putting aside all of the amazing energy and crazy dancing for a moment, the one part that stood out to me the most was Zac's performance of "The Walk." Most of the time, Hanson shows to me are about having a good time with friends. I live for the high-energy, upbeat songs, and the deeper moments are few and far between. Something about that song that night though was so perfect that I want to use sappy words like "flawless," "captivating," and dare I say "moving" to describe it. I just stood there and listened and almost forgot where I was until it ended, and I could tell by the looks on the familiar faces around me that I wasn't the only one that felt that way. It's moments like those that keep me coming back.

November 15, 2011

Lancaster, NYC, Falls Church, Philadelphia, NYC


Lancaster 10/17/11

The Chameleon Club in Lancaster is easily my 2nd least favorite venue (Amos' Southend in Charlotte holds first place). Picture a shoebox with one too many pairs of shoes shoved inside and you'll get the general layout and organization. Now picture a pair of shoes on the 2nd level with a really gross pair of cheap knockoff heals scuffing up against them all night--that's where I ended up. Thankfully the show itself was one of the best I saw this tour and made up for the minor details. The guys had a lot of energy and seemed to be just as excited as we were to be back to playing shows after the week-long break. Finally seeing Isaac play the piano almost made missing the other shows worth the wait, and we definitely got a kick out of  "Somethin' Going 'Round" as the encore.

New York 10/18/11

The New York show was significant for three reasons: 1) It was my first trip to NYC, 2) I won tickets for the show via Hanson's Musical Ride Tour contest (remember this post? turns out it paid off), and 3) I decided to try to drive my car into the city. Two out of three of those turned out well. We managed to get into the city with just a $12 toll, and I stretched the remainder of my luck and found free street parking just a block away from where we were staying with Rachel's friends. By some miracle I parallel parked without any trouble, and my car was untouched the next morning. Getting into the show with my won tickets proved a bit more difficult, but thankfully in the end I had two friends with me that held me a spot inside while I tracked down someone who could find my name on the guest lest and let me in. It was definitely worth the wait to save $50 on the ticket.

The story was entertaining but I can't say I remember much about it. I recall a Hanson comparing The Walk to Deathly Hallows part 1 and Shout it Out to Deathly Hallows part 2 where they get to kill Voldemort in the end, and I specifically remember Zac saying "booyah!" after connecting slavery to the roots of rock and roll music. We shook our heads. Even Zac Hanson can't "booyah" slavery (obviously this is all paraphrased and out of context, so don't quote him too closely on that).

Falls Church 10/19/11


Rain, rain, rain, rocket-launched guitar picks, cameras rudely in the aisle. Oh, and I laughed really hard when Isaac tried to hand Taylor a guitar pick WHILE Taylor was playing the guitar. Not sure how Isaac expected him to pick it up, and Taylor was giving him a look that said the same thing with a little more attitude.

Philadelphia 10/20/11

Parking in Philly was definitely more of a nightmare than anywhere else I've been. Anywhere that allows parallel parking in the middle of a median is nuts in my book. Here we hit a few used music shops and picked up some more music for the road since CDs were our only option in my car. We picked up some Green Day, No Doubt, Creedence Cleerwater Revival, and ABBA before cutting ourselves off (and for the millionth time couldn't find any SoCo).

During the show, we watched from the balcony as security dragged off some drunk girl trying to violently shove her way to the front, and Zac declared "Sometimes having a good time means having one less drink." And sometimes having a good time means one less crazy person in the packed, sold-out crowd.


At the end, Charlie Mars came back out on stage and had Hanson sing and play backup to a new song with a title I can't remember and a dragging I can't forget. Maybe they knew it, too, because they didn't end the set with it and instead came back out and played, well, something else that I'm sure I enjoyed more at the time. Perhaps my lack of memory isn't all in part to the lameness of the performance so much as the fact  that it's been a month and I saw a lot since then.

New York City 10/22/11 VH1 Save the Music Event

There's a first for everything, and this show was the first time I saw Hanson play an elementary school auditorium. We didn't bother to try to wait and get good seats for this since the focus of the event was for families and kids. It was cute watching Hanson play for the kids and try to get them to dance and have fun, and they invited the children to stand in front of the front row. Isaac tried to get them to jump on cue to the drumbeat during parts of "MMMBop" and "A Minute Without You," and Taylor taught them to twirl and "get down low" during "Give a Little." It was also the first time I've ever had my view blocked by a dancing balloon, but I happily put up with it just picturing the hopping kid on the other end of the string.

At the end of the show as Hanson was leaving the stage, the host announced that there would be one more song, to which the crowd erupted in cheers and all three Hansons looked like they might throw knives, clearly not being aware of this extra song. The host quickly realized his mistake and added "'--but not by Hanson! YOU guys are going to sing!" And we did. We sang Happy Birthday to Zac as someone brought out a massive cupcake with a candle that they trusted Taylor to light, and for the first time I watched them not smash cake in anyone's face.

November 5, 2011

Northampton, New Haven, Boston, Portland


Northampton 10/7/11

Northampton feels like so long ago that I really don't have a lot to say about it. We showed up probably two hours before doors, and since it was seated we went exploring. It was here that we encountered our first "Occupy _____" group. I was completely unfamiliar with this movement prior to this trip, but I'm more than educated about it at this point after finding disgruntled Occupy crews in almost every city we hit. This particular bunch was small in number and gathered in front of the Bank of America, chanting and holding home-made signs but seemed a bit less organized and represented than most others that we saw.

The show was good. We had front row seats so it was nice to walk up and get a good spot without having to wait in line forever, and we were super happy that The Walk won the album voting. Out of all the shows I did, this was the only show I actively voted for on a regular basis, so I was incredibly happy when my pick finally won. "Tearing it Down" was a definite highlight. It's a decent song on the album, but it easily plowed through to one of my favorite live songs as soon as I heard it. We actually sat down during the acoustic set which was another memorable moment because really, how many times do you sit at a Hanson show? There's something fantastic about sitting with your feet on the stage instead of standing with some heavy-breathing girl pressed against your back, screaming the lyrics to "Go" with more energy than Zac gives during "Rock 'n' Roll Razorblade."

New Haven

As soon as we showed up at Toad's and saw a slew of drunk Yale kids, we knew we were in for an interesting night. Several scaled some metal structure and the police had to shine a light on them to make them come down. One ran over to me and Valerie and stole a fry out of our bag before we could respond, and I stopped another from sneaking under the blanket of a fan who had her head turned. The next day, a random girl wearing a banana costume asked "Are you really waiting for HANSON?!" I responded, "Are you really wearing a banana suit?" You know it's bad when you're being judged by a girl in a giant banana.

While I wasn't overly excited about hearing Middle of Nowhere as the winning album, I was pleasantly surprised by  how good the show was. It also probably ranks as the loudest show I've ever been to with all of the screaming echoing in the room. Zac later explained to us that it was due to the layout and shape of the room, but I'm not convinced that it wasn't just due to the insane over-excitement of a lot of the people there. At some point during the show, I saw Isaac wiping his nose and filed it away in my head with a simple "huh, they must be getting sick." No kidding, as we would soon find out a few days later.

After the show was this weird phenomenon of girls without pants. I guess the venue opened up to be some kind of dance club after the show because there was a huge line of scantily clad girls and oddly normal looking guys waiting to get in. Almost every girl was wearing the same one-size-fits-none tube skirt, and I saw a whole lot more of New Haven than I ever wanted to that night. Let's just say if you ever hear me say "she must be from New Haven," don't take it as a compliment.

Boston

Boston was the site of my first parallel parking job of the trip, and I was darn proud of it. Unfortunately, it was also the place where my poor mutilated tire decided to fight back (long story---I basically tore my hubcap during the SIO tour last November and never fixed it), so I spent an outrageous $7 on scissors and a good 15 minutes trying to saw off the offending piece to keep it from puncturing my tire. My poor car puts up with a lot for this band.

We were in the balcony for the show and it provided a good view of a surprisingly full floor. I've since heard people say that the show sold out, but I'm not convinced. Still, it was a decently full venue for such a large capacity. The energy was pretty high and the major highlight here was hearing Hanson cover Weezer's "Troublemaker." I expected it to become a tour staple, but this turned out to be the only night they played it.

After the show we sat out by the bus and huddled for warmth like dorks and had a pretty good time just talking to friends and getting to know people. It was here that I unknowingly received the high five of death from Zac that ended up getting me and eventually every person that traveled with me sick. Sorry guys, I didn't want that something either.

Portland

This is the single weirdest city I've ever visited due to the homeless population. Dad jokingly told me to stay away from the "Maine-iacs" but had no idea how much truth was in that statement. There was the guy that offered to sell us drugs and then offered them for free when we refused (for the record, we still refused), the old bald man that fawned over my nail polish before proudly showing off his own, the guy that creepily stopped to say "I like you. You look good," then walked away, and many, many more people that gave a generally weird vibe. I didn't necessarily feel in danger, just more of a "what kind of twilight zone am I in?" feeling.

The one upside was some of the most amazing food at a local restaurant called Sprouts & the Bomb Diggity Bakery. It was so fantastic that we ate there twice.


Of course we got fantastic spots only to find that the show would be canceled halfway through due to the sickness going around to everyone on the bus (and unfortunately me at this point). From what I remember, they came out and played a few songs, then disappeared backstage for a few minutes. At this point, we knew something was up, and not necessarily something good. When they came back out, they announced that Underneath had won the voting, but in order to give us a better show, they would play SIO instead. They only got through one song before quickly realizing that wouldn't cut it, either. I can't remember too many specifics except they seemed to be struggling to do songs with Isaac and Zac leads to let Taylor's voice rest, but with everyone being a bit sick, it was still too much. I watched Taylor mouth "Watch Over Me" to Zac, and Zac shout back "No, it's too much." It seemed obvious that Taylor wanted so badly to continue the show, but it just wasn't in his best interest and his brothers knew it. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed, especially after having camped out and gotten close to front row center, but I'm glad they made the responsible call that might have saved them more sickness and damage to their voices in the long run. Seriously, no hard feelings from me. I know they would never cancel a show without very good reason, and I'm glad they're all okay. I can't say I'll be making the drive back to Portland when they reschedule, though.

November 4, 2011

The Musical Ride Tour in List Form

Shows Attended:
1. Chicago 9/27
2. Chicago 9/28
3. Northampton 10/7
4. New Haven 10/8
5. Boston 10/9
6. Portland 10/11
7. Lancaster 10/17
8. New York City 10/18
9. Falls Church 10/19
10. Philadelphia 10/20
11. New York City 10/22
12. Norfolk 10/23
13. Charlotte 10/25
14. Atlanta 10/26
15. St. Petersburg 10/28
16. Ft. Lauderdale 10/29
17. Epcot 10/31
18. Epcot 11/1

Albums Heard:
-Middle of Nowhere: 3
-This Time Around: 4
-Underneath: 3
-The Walk: 3
-Shout it Out: 1

Shows canceled:
.5 Portland 10/11
1. Albany 10/12
2. Pittsburgh 10/13

Trip Casualties:
1. rear hubcap
2. windshield wipers
3. right headlight
4. Hanson pen
5. necklace for Hanson pendant
6. Valerie's hairbrush
7. favorite shoes
8. tent
9. GPS
10. GPS #2 (no kidding...I'm on my 3rd GPS in a month)
11. Silver glitter hairbow

Number of...
-Days on the road: 28
-Times we got lost: 0
-Rotating travelers in my car: ~10
-Energy drinks consumed: 2.5
-Chocolate milks consumed: 20395828
-Miles traveled: OUCH
-States visited: ~15
-Bananas in the bunch: 6
-Priceline deals: ~5
-Terrifying parallel parking jobs: 2
-Cakes/cupcakes smashed: 2
-Hours in my day: 1,440

...okay, just kidding on that last one.

All in all it's been an incredible month and I'm already missing the road. Show reviews and a few photos to follow soon.

November 3, 2011

Where's the Love?

I've started and restarted this post because I can't seem to get what I want to say exactly right. I've witnessed a lot of rude behaviors this tour and have been very disappointed at the obvious lack of common decency and consideration for others. There's so much I want to say and so much I shouldn't. Then I realized that Hanson has already said it, so I'll let the lyrics speak for themselves:

Something's been going on and I don't know what it is
You don’t mind the taking girl, but you don’t know how to give
You drove me crazy but I don’t know baby
You’re thinking that it’s me you’re fooling
Where’s the right in, all our fighting?
Look at what you’re doing

Where’s the love
It’s not enough
It makes the world go ‘round and ‘round and…
Where’s the love
Give it up
It makes the world go ‘round and ‘round and ‘round

Can you tell me what you see whenever you look around?
We’re tripping all over ourselves and pulling each other down
We’re separating, consciousness is fading
Are you thinking that it’s me you’re fooling?
Where the right in, all our fighting?
Look at, look at, look at what we’re doing

(Repeat Chorus)

Dark clouds all around. lightening, rain pouring down
Waiting for the bright light to break through
Face down on the ground
Pick us up at the lost and found
We’ve got to change our point of view, if we want the sky blue

We’re segregating, consciences are fading
You’re thinking that it’s me you’re fooling
Where’s the right in, all our fighting
Look at what we’re doing

(Repeat Chorus)

Won’t you, won’t you give it up



No, really, give it up.