June 9, 2019

Tonight Is The Last Night: Buffalo

You know that feeling when you’re sitting in front of a giant plate of your favorite food, and you reach the point of being full and KNOW you should really stop, but it’s so good and there’s still food on the plate so you keep eating anyway? That’s kind of where I’m at with String Theory right now. No, I don’t feel sick or queasy now that I’ve overindulged, but after ~17 String Theory shows (does BTTI really count?), I think I’m finally ready to put down the fork. It has been a real treat to see things through from start to finish and with plenty of exciting stops along the way, but I’m officially ready to move forward and am excited to see what new project comes next.

Despite being the same String Theory show as every other city I visited, Buffalo was actually a completely unique experience for me due to the trip itself. I bought tickets almost a year ago, but I never made solid plans to go. As it turned out, no one was able to make the trip with me, and I dragged my feet on whether or not to attend alone right up until Hanson Day when I finally decided I didn't want to regret sitting out the "last" String Theory show when I already had a great seat and the time off from work. Finding a direct Spirit flight for a full $250 less than every other airline pretty much sealed the deal. My crammed personal item and I would be making a 24 hour trip to Buffalo.

It wasn't my first time going to a concert alone, but I haven't done it for Hanson since 2007 (and even then I split a hotel with a few other fans). Though I did wind up selling my extra ticket to a friend and not sitting "alone," this was my first time flying somewhere, staying in my own hotel room, Ubering, eating, and just generally doing everything solo. I didn't hate it, and there's kind of a liberating feeling of independence that goes along with putting yourself out there and doing what you want with or without the help or approval of others. In some ways going alone made me appreciate my usual travel companions even more, but it was also nice to step a little outside of my comfort zone and find out that I'm totally capable of doing things for myself, too.

There's another thing I learned by flying solo, and that's that no matter where I go, I'm never truly alone in a room full of Hanson fans. I went to the bar to buy a bottle of water and ran into an old friend I haven't seen in a few years who was there to enjoy the show with her husband. When I found my seat and sat down, the person behind me tapped me on the shoulder, smiled, and identified herself as a friend of a friend. Three seats down my row was another old friend that I met through my local street team over 800 miles away, and later I ran into the pair of girls that called security to toss us a key when I locked us onto our balcony at BTTI earlier this year. I spotted friendly faces everywhere, and a couple of kind strangers even waited with me for my Uber to show up after the show when Hanson took off and I suddenly found myself about to be left completely alone outside at night. I doubt they'll ever see this, but thanks again. All the kind people I interacted with reminded me of the great community we have.

As for the show? On a completely different note from the warm fuzzies I got from *most* of the crowd, I got to see a whole new trend of what happens when people aren't bold enough to rush the stage but still can't quite behave. I think at least a few people might need to amend their claims of "Hanson is my favorite band" to "Hanson is my favorite Instagram backdrop" for accuracy purposes. I've seen the occasional "how cool is this, see where I'm at! Hanson is right behind me!" style selfie from people excited about their spots, and there's really no harm done there. This was not that. This was some weird selfie parade of people wandering past front row to the stage in front of other people's seats and throwing up thumbs-up, OMG faces, and hugging each other in photos with their backs to the stage right in the middle of "Tonight." Part of me wants to make excuses for them and remember that it's always somebody's first show and that there's nothing wrong with being a little over-excited. But then I remember the setting and the fact that even teenage starstruck me would have known better than to run down the aisle at a seated orchestra show and stand in front of each brother taking selfies from multiple angles during the last somber song, and my sympathy morphs back into thinking the adults doing it could have exercised a little bit more self control. #DoGoBehave really made it full circle this tour.

Though the selfie parade may have earned a full paragraph for its standout weirdness compared to other shows, my overall experience was a good one, and I enjoyed the final (for now) performance of a solid set of songs. I may not have the same enthusiasm and excitement for String Theory as I did before my first show, but it's since been replaced with a familiarity that I'm sure will morph into nostalgia before I know it, the same way being sickly full of that favorite meal will turn right back into a craving as soon as you start your diet. (I'm not sure where all the food analogies are coming from. Clearly I shouldn't write on an empty stomach).

I found myself watching the triple drumming of "Siren Call" intently, knowing I might not get to see it performed that way again. I sat through "Battlecry" remembering how magical it was to see at the Sydney Opera House and desperately hoping that it gets reincarnated into a rock song without an orchestra and played to death on future tours.  I looked around and saw the faces of so many others nodding their heads and quietly grinning looking up at the stage in awe, and I got the sense that yeah, I was silly to ever think of it as going alone. Besides, sometimes flying solo and simply showing up to be part of the crowd is how you end up making that lifelong friend you'll find yourself in another part of the world with a decade later, and when you really get lost in great music, it doesn't matter who's sitting next to you. If you've ever let worries of going alone stop you, don't wait for tomorrow. You never know when "Tonight" really is the last, and as cheesy or morbid as that may sound, it's one reason I'll always push myself to avoid those "wish that I was there" moments and do things like fly to New York and share an experience with a room full of strangers over regretting missing out later. So far? I can proudly say I've got an equal amount of selfie parade photos and regrets.

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