October 7, 2017

MOE Tour: St. Petersburg

St. Pete was simultaneously one of the best and worst shows of my trip. It was sunny and almost 90 degrees and was held in an outdoor venue in Florida. The wait in line actually wasn't half bad, and I got to meet a few new friends. I just didn't realize exactly how ready I am to escape into the safety of artificial heat or AC at doors on a normal day until it wasn't an option this time.

I started feeling a little sick right around the time I finally secured my front row center spot before the MOE. I racked my brain for what I had eaten and drank and came to the quick and horrifying realization that I had only had three things to drink all day: chocolate milk at 5 am, coffee around 9 am, and a Pepsi around 2 pm. I was a dehydrated idiot that had spent all day in the sun, and the sun continued to shine directly on my back as the pre-show fan club event started. I tried to clap and sing along and exhibit some level of enthusiasm, but really I was just sweating and woozy. Taylor tried to amp up the crowd during "Dance Like You Don't Care" demanding participation during the line "jump in the air like a wild man," but I couldn't even pretend to jump. I felt like the obvious wet blanket on the fun in the front row just standing there while everyone around me looked excited, and I hoped Hanson wouldn't see my lackluster reaction and think I was bored.

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After about six songs, we were treated to a Q&A session. I'm not a big fan of these in general because people have this funny way of 1) asking things that have been asked a hundred times before, 2) asking something nobody else cares about, or 3) asking when Hanson is going to return to (insert city/state/country here). The one question from this event that stood out to me was someone asking about the inspiration behind "Runaway Run." I remember them saying that they hadn't really shared much about that song with us before. They said it's a song about longing from a younger perspective which somehow got them spontaneously singing the Beach Boys and emphasizing "Wouldn't it be nice if we were older, then we wouldn't have to wait so long" and telling us to instantly erase that from our memories. Too late, Hanson. It's one of the few things I actually did retain. I don't think they specifically mentioned the connection between that line and the opening line "And I waited for you," but I assume that's the correlation anyway. They also talked about the trend of songs today not being subtle at all and mentioned appreciating the art of adding sexual tension to a song without being so obvious about it (inadequate sick person paraphrase here). Kudos to whoever asked that question, because I enjoyed hearing more about "Runaway Run" and it elicited an answer I had never heard them give. It also got them to add that song to the setlist later.

We had to start lining up for pictures after the Q&A, so I immediately went to the bar and overpaid for some much needed water to rehydrate first. I knew I must have looked ill or made an impression with my earlier lack of energy when it was our turn for the group picture because Taylor skipped the formalities and greeted me with "Are you tired?" I explained that I felt overheated and told him I thought I'd be fine since I stopped and got water. Thankfully I really was fine for the rest of the show, and I'm happily clutching that water with both hands in our picture as though someone might take it from me.

There was some crowd drama after that, but by the time the show started I don't think anyone could focus on anything except the awesome performance in front of them. And despite all the anxiety, I think the St. Pete crowd energy might have been the best I saw out of all seven of the shows I've seen so far. Hanson was on fire and put every ounce of energy they had into the show, and so did everyone in the audience. That bottle of water worked a miracle and I felt so alive and energized the entire time. The crowd jumped and poured sweat in unison. There was a moment during the show when I was singing and clapping and I realized that every single person I could see was doing the same, and it hit me how great it is that you can basically be yelling at someone one minute and then join a pretty impressive choir with them the next because we're all here for the same reason, and the only reason those fights happen in the first place is everyone is so passionate about this band. Hanson made it abundantly clear to us that night why we were there and why we'd always keep coming back, dehydration, disagreements, and all.

I'm looking at the setlist and am genuinely baffled how it could possibly look the same as every other setlist from this tour on paper but still feel so different and so perfect while it was happening. I don't mean "different" because it felt like a different set of songs or a new concept; it didn't. It just felt different from the night before and the night after and the other hundred nights I've seen Hanson because every performance is its own individual experience, and the only possible explanation is that music is freaking magic. I know it. Hanson knows it. Every other fan that comes back time and time again knows it. There are no adequate words, pictures, or livestreams that can explain it; you either know it or you don't. I'm so thankful that I do.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Yay, I was looking forward to this post! I'm so glad we were line buddies, and I loved the bit at the end...about how we're all there for the same reason. Sometimes I feel like an addict, but at least I'm not the only one? Music IS freaking magic!! I couldn't have said it better myself. :)