November 12, 2020

Coming Back For More: Perennial Live

 I wanted to get a jump start on this blog post while everything is still fresh in my mind, but as I'm writing this, it's T-minus 2 hours until tickets for the December shows go on sale, and let's be honest: I feel like I may vomit. If you don't get that way when you buy tickets, you're a calmer human than I am. If you do feel sick when buying tickets or rushing into a GA venue and were hoping it goes away eventually...I'm here to tell you it doesn't. And if you're trying for tickets for any of the upcoming shows, best of luck, and may the odds be ever in my favor. (jk, good luck to you too!)

Perennial Live felt a lot like a warped Hanson Day with extended concerts and less events. The location, the setlists, and the people in the room all felt reminiscent of HDays past. The masks, lack of lines, and 10% capacity--not so much. I thought a series full of members only songs might be a bit more mellow and not allow for as much dancing and jumping around, but I had a really good time and found plenty of opportunities to enjoy the music and the space to move. Bonus points for mouth coverage during a set where you know less lyrics than usual. Who cares if you don't know the words if nobody can see you singing the wrong ones?

Instead of trying to do a chronological recap of everything that could get repetitive with three similar sets, I thought it might be more fun to do a countdown of some of my favorite moments from this trip:

10. Not show related, but that awkward moment when we pulled up to do curbside pickup at a restaurant, turned on the radio, and Spotify chose that exact moment to blast an ad at earsplitting volume that said "EXTREME NAUSEA" instead of music. Nothing says support your local pizzeria like damaging their employees' eardrums with ads for stomach medicine. (tbh I probably should've taken note of the brand for future ticket buying stress.)

9. Getting to hear new songs. It was my first time hearing both "Nothing Like a Love Song" and "Good Days." I knew we'd hear the first one since it's the new single from Perennial, but "Good Days" was a nice surprise. I know we're all struggling right now and the year as a whole sucks, but there are definitely some good days to celebrate, and I'm grateful for the two I had in Tulsa this month.

8. "The Ballad of Seymour Better Times" during the first show. When Zac got to the line "My journey may be long before I'm done, so won't you play the drums," the whole room broke out into an unplanned stomping session to add to the fake drum effect. I thought it was so clever right up until everyone did the exact same thing for "play the horns" despite the fact that stomping on a wooden floor sounds nothing like horns, so I feel like something was lost in translation there. The initial idea was a good one, at least. Just in case I haven't already fangirled hard enough about this song in previous blogs, let me remind you it's in my top three all-time favorite Hanson songs and I will never stop being impressed by the clever ending.

7. Hearing "Georgia" as we waited for presidential votes to be counted felt historically appropriate. No political statements were made, but you can't deny that Georgia HAS been a little back and forth lately.

6. That great moment when a really stupid dance move for "Get The Girl Back" finally makes sense about seven years later. For years we've always jokingly pushed our hands out during "Get the Girl Back" in an exaggerated "back up" motion (inspired by elbow throwers and crowd pushers of tours past), so it felt more relevant than ever to mime literally getting girls back on their side during a pandemic requiring social distance. It's about tiiime that you get the girl back to her table.

5. Learning that "Be My Own" started out as "Be My Home." Before Taylor started singing it, he explained that those were the original lyrics to the song. I can definitely hear how they'd work interchangeably, and the idea of asking someone "Do you want to be the one I know, to be the place I go, to be my home?" is incredibly sweet. I'm glad he shared that with us and I'm curious what made them ultimately choose "own" over "home," but it's a beautiful song either way.

4. Taylor soloing "A Song To Sing" with the extra verse. I've heard this song performed live with that verse a handful of times now, but I'm pretty sure that's the only time I've heard Taylor pull it out during a solo. In general I try not to read too much into things that are ambiguous at best, but it was hard not to hear "Don't wander through this glassy surface expecting to find more than me" without thinking about it as a reminder to fans to stop looking for Hanson to be anything other than themselves. It may not have been his intention, but that's what I got out of it. "Compromise" hit pretty hard as true for the same reasons.

3. Isaac's "Grace Unknown" solo on the third night. He put so much emotion into it, and when he got to the line that says "Any time the silence starts to feel like home/ I can hear my heartbeat," he stopped playing entirely, closed his eyes, and thumped his hand on the wood of his guitar to the rhythm of a heart. The whole room was quiet while he did it, and it gave the perfect erie effect of a heartbeat echoing in silence. He also blew us away with further flawless performances of "Watch Over Me" and "Something Loud." We don't get a lot of Isaac leads and solos, but when we do, Isaac usually nails them and leaves you wondering why he doesn't do it more often. Cue the most interesting man in the world: 

2. "Thinking Bout Something." I didn't have any hopes that this would be played, so having it pulled out during a fan club set really surprised me. If you read this blog with any regularity or even just stand near me at shows when it gets played, then you already know I love this song and am a big cheesy dork when it comes to doing the dance. As I mentioned back in February, it has officially been 10 years since I learned it or practiced for any sort of accuracy, so we just get progressively worse each time. I always say I'm going to go back and relearn it, but then I never do. When they played it at the first show and I was at a 2nd row center table with room to dance and spotlights and cameras around, we made the executive decision: time to actually follow through on that much-needed practice.

We went back to our hotel room and played the youtube tutorial on the giant TV, and surprisingly, it only took about two runs through it to get it right. My absolute favorite moment of the whole weekend was the moment it got played at the final show. I was front row center with another table of friends right next to me and one adjacently behind. During one of the moves that requires spinning around, I took stock of the room and realized virtually everyone within my line of sight was also attempting the dance. I think it was the most people I've seen doing it in one place since I was on the set for the music video, and it was fun to actually know what I was doing for a change and not have to stop to spiral into a fit of laughter because we lost our place or stomped on each other's feet.

1A. Drumsticks. For the last show, we had a few extra friends coming meaning we needed two tables instead of one. There was definitely that nervous moment before buying tickets of what if we only get one table, what if we get one amazing table and one terrible one, how do we figure out who sits where, etc. By some miracle, we got two side by side tables front row center and it became a non-issue (which definitely falls in to the Sydney Opera House category of how is this even happening?). I was with one friend in particular who is a Tulsa local and has been such a gracious host chauffeuring us around and being generally awesome, and she's the only one of us who had never been given drumsticks. Once we knew we had those tables, one thing led to another and suddenly we were buying programmable light up masks and planning operation get Morgen sticks. Morgen's mask said something along the lines of "sticks, please," and the rest of us had "sticks" with arrows pointing towards her.

I knew they weren't guaranteed, but I was mostly mentally prepared for her to get them at the end of the show when Zac stepped forward with sticks in hand. What I was NOT prepared for, however, was when I saw someone rush past me from behind to claim them first. Everything happened so fast and things got confusing after that. The stage rusher got sticks, then someone else got sticks, then Morgen got a third pair, and I was so annoyed by people rushing but also so relieved that she still got sticks that gratitude won out in my mix of emotions. I put my hands together 🙏 and mouthed "thank you" to Zac (which he couldn’t see, because #masklife) while my friend Rachel did a very similar gesture right next to me. Then suddenly he’s going back for a final pair of sticks and aiming them towards our table, and the three of us just froze and stared at him and each other for a moment. I finally stepped forward and took them when I realized that if I didn’t, a second stampede was likely to start. The whole thing was super unexpected, though very much appreciated, and it occurred to me that maybe our “thank you” gestures looked a lot more like “please" and he gave them to us because he was confused. Or maybe he was just already in the Oprah zone and figured why not one more? ("You get sticks!" "You get sticks!" "Everybody's getting sticks!") Who knows. 

1B. My favorite part of the whole encounter though is what happened next. It felt selfish to keep a second pair when my whole table already had some, and 2 sticks + 3 people is bad math, so I immediately turned and looked for someone to give them to. I noticed a boy and his mother behind us who were slowly stepping forward but also politely keeping distance, so that sold me on giving them to him. It wasn't until my friends and I were talking in the hotel room later that I realized my brain skipped a few of the details of how that actually went down. I left fully thinking I handed the sticks to the boy. What actually happened is I had been aiming to give the sticks to the boy's mother (on his behalf, she was just closer), and Rachel took them out of my hand and gave them directly to the kid. This was all so seamless and exactly what I had intended to do that I didn't realize I didn't do it myself. The best part is there was zero communication between us when this happened. From an outside perspective, Zac gave me sticks and my friend literally stole them out of my hands and gave them away to a stranger. I'm pretty sure friendships have been canceled over less. The fact that she knew exactly what I was trying to do without either of us speaking and then carried it out so well that I didn't even realize it wasn't ME doing it...that's friendship goals.

And for a bit of relevant balance, here's a list of my #1 least favorite moment:

1. Maskless stage rushing. I don't care who gave you permission or what invitation you think you received, under no circumstances should you be leaving your table without your mask and going into someone else's space. It's against Cain's policy, and it's against common decency. I need you to feel a little less "Hakuna Matata" and a little more "Be Prepared." TL;DR: Do what you want at your own table, but stay there. #GetTheGirlBackToHerTable2020

Soapboxes and mask rants aside, I had a really good time and feel incredibly lucky to be able to go to these in-person shows and spend some time with friends even if I can't do it as often or in as large of a group as I would like. I don't want to be too harsh here and I know we all have lapses in judgment sometimes, but I do believe it's our responsibility to take care of each other and do our best to follow basic guidelines so that we can slow the spread and continue having the privilege of attending these shows. I'm thoroughly excited for next month's Christmas Ball, and I can't wait to see the room full of whatever range of ugly sweaters and ballgowns people choose to wear. (Those of you watching from home...I'm counting on those cheesy Christmas pajama photos!)

P.S. All I want for Christmas is to hear "My Favorite Christmas Sweater." 🙏 <-- P.P.S. Just to be clear, THOSE are please hands 😂