August 31, 2022

RGB Tour: Fargo

Consider this your friendly RGB Tour installment of “Places Holly Never Meant to Be.” I knew when tour dates were announced and I only planned for Nashville, Atlanta, and Raleigh that I would want to add something later, but I had no idea where. I figured I would know it when I saw it even if it came down to “I have these two days off in a row; where is Hanson playing on those dates?” The lightbulb came in the form of a friend randomly asking me if I needed Fargo tickets because she knew another friend with extra third row seats. A state I’ve never been and third row seats to a sold out show? My gut answered “Yes, yes I do.”

We got to Fargo from Minneapolis with just enough time to hit the visitors center, grab lunch, and check out a few murals. The visitors center was full of movie references which I’m ashamed to admit were lost on me because I’ve never seen the movie Fargo. I’ve now seen the woodchipper, though, and can make an educated guess about its gruesome role in the film. We actually planned lunch at Wurst Bier Hall before we ever left for the trip thanks to 3/5 of us being adventurous eaters always in search of something new to try, so half of our table was happily eating salad and a bacon flight while the rest of us were reaching over each other tasting exotic sausages. I have zero regrets about my main choice of pierogi in a spicy sriracha butter and curry sauce, the rabbit and rattlesnake sausage dog I tried was decent though not amazing, but my first taste of borscht was a major letdown (the resident Russian in the car assured me it was subpar and I shouldn’t count it anyway).

Despite having third row seats, it turns out I’m not actually capable of turning down open front row even if it means I have to stand and wait in GA rather than sit in a chair. It all worked out, though, because I was able to give the seats to friends who needed a better view. Just to give a little context, this show was outdoors at Fargo Brewing Company with a running train track directly behind the stage, and it was the first show to sell out on the RGB tour. My expectation was for a packed semi-drunk crowd, and Fargo did not let me down.

My first inclination that things might get interesting came when a girl in the second row spilled beer in the lap of the girl next to me before the show started. Let’s call this person “Drunk Girl,” because anything else I can think to call her would be unkind. I wasn’t all that concerned that someone (gasp!) spilled beer at a brewery, and Drunk Girl was super apologetic at first and even started wiping it up with her skirt, which tbh was a tad questionable because she didn’t give any indication that she understood that rubbing this stranger’s thigh with her makeshift skirt-napkin might need approval. The real red flag, though, was when Drunk Girl said mid-swipe “I’m so sorry! But this is a beer store so you’re going to smell like beer” and then shrugged like it was common sense. Hold your beer, North Dakota, because I need to consult Hansonstage to see if I should add this one to my show count or start a new list of the number of beer stores I’ve attended.

The first few songs went fine, if not a little weird when we got to "If Only" and Taylor didn’t jump once. It felt so strange and foreign to me to be jumping without him, but then he finally said something to the effect of “For those of you who know what’s missing, this stage is a trampoline” and turned it into this little “if you know, you know” moment for those who had been to other Hanson shows. I definitely noticed and was glad for an explanation.

Things started to go downhill when I felt a hand squeeze onto the barricade between my elbow and the elbow of the girl next to me around the start of the acoustic set. Before I could react, the hand was followed by a crushing body slam that rammed me hard into the metal barricade. Re-enter Drunk Girl in this part of the story. For reference, I’m pretty small and so was the girl next to me. Drunk Girl was not, and I think she managed to body slam us both at the same time while trying to squeeze in between us. I didn’t know the girl next to me but got the impression that she was fairly young, maybe in her late teens or at least a good bit younger than me. My assumption is that she was probably not used to being bulldozed by drunk women, and while I try not to be either, I felt like between the two of us, I probably had more experience keeping them back. A combination of self-preservation and maybe a little bit of dormant mama bear instinct gave me momentary hulk strength, and I managed to position my elbow and shove Drunk Girl back with my whole body as hard as I could to get her off of us. It worked. For what it’s worth, I’ve been following Hanson for 15 years and have spent all 15 of them often being written off as the weakest link in the front row for wannabe stage rushers thanks to my size. Spoiler alert for anyone making that assumption: it ain’t me.

Thankfully, or so we thought at the time, there was a member of security directly in front of us when this happened. We tried to call him over and he told us “I didn’t see anything,” shrugged, and said “That happens in the front” when I explained what happened. Drunk girl never hit us that hard again since she lost the element of surprise and security was ~watching, but we spent several songs with her shoving up against us, trying to squeeze her arm between our bodies, and just generally being an awful distraction while pressing her entire body against my back. At one point I was being visibly rocked into the barricade while making eye contact with the security guard and motioning behind me so he would see, and he just smiled and shrugged like “What can you do?” I don’t know, your job? 

Drunk Girl even got into a yelling match with one of the other women next to us twice and was so up in her face that everyone around us was yelling for security because it looked like they were about to throw punches. The security guy in front of us literally walked off to point and laugh with another member of the security team instead of doing anything. It was the most condescending thing I have ever seen in my life, like they thought it was so cute these little MMMBop girls couldn’t handle a GA crowd. At that point I knew we were completely on our own, and I almost wished the girl would go ahead and hit me in front of the guy so he’d be forced to kick her out and we could be done with her. Who knows, maybe he would have taken a photo for his mysoginist buddies and said "it happens" instead.

After I realized there was no help to be had and Drunk Girl was still practically laying on my back, I finally turned around and yelled in her face "YOU CAN EITHER ENJOY THE SHOW FROM THAT SPOT OR SPEND THE REST OF YOUR NIGHT TRYING AND FAILING TO GET THIS ONE. YOUR CALL," and turned back around and ignored her. I don't know if I hit on some profound drunk girl logic or what, but I never felt her touch me again for the rest of the night, and I even noticed her singing along happily after that. It was wild.

No matter how many paragraphs I dedicated to her, Drunk Girl did not manage to ruin my night, and I did have one particularly great moment despite the chaos. Rewinding back to Minneapolis for a minute, after the show I briefly met Isaac and Taylor and used the opportunity to ask Taylor to please play “Rambling Heart” if there was any chance it would fit into a setlist over the next two days. He repeated back “you’ll be at the next two shows?” like he was trying to commit it to memory, so I confirmed yes and he said the odds were good that I might hear it. I knew it was already on several previous setlists but had mostly been written out and replaced with something else at the last moment, as was the case in Minneapolis, so I was elated when he walked out onto the stage in Fargo for his solo carrying a guitar.

I love Hanson’s music so much, but if you were to ask me to identify some sort of travel anthem for myself and pick a song that describes how I feel about traveling to shows, I’d tell you it’s Something Corporate’s “I Woke Up In A Car.” I feel every one of those lyrics in my little rambling heart, and “Rambling Heart” is the first Hanson song that really gives me those same feelings of loving life on the road and embracing the chaos that comes with it, even if my doses are much smaller than the musicians that wrote them. It’s a beautiful song and I was grateful for the opportunity to hear it. I was also grateful that Drunk Girl didn’t try to make a comeback during it, because I have no idea what I would have done and I’m glad none of us had to find out.

I’ll leave you with the lines that describe exactly how I feel in those little moments that I'm always chasing, like standing front row in a new city watching a halo of illuminated bugs dancing around a band member playing your new favorite song because you asked. They can be few and far between at times, but they're worth all the drunk girls, the travel fails, and the chaos along the way:

“I'm alive in this moment, watch the world melt away

And every new road feels like right where I belong

I wouldn't want it any other way”

August 27, 2022

RGB Tour: Minneapolis

And I Waited

For round two of the RGB tour, I flew from South Carolina to Minneapolis, then roadtripped from Minneapolis to Fargo and Winnipeg with four friends. If you enjoy reading fan experiences and are also a reader of the blog Scream and Be Frees or Hansonstage, be forewarned that we traveled together for these three shows and our stories are bound to have similarities. We’re also different people with different perspectives that didn’t stand next to each other every night, so I’m sure there will be some variation, too. It might even be fun to see what stood out more to different people in the same room.

Personally, my trip to Minneapolis was flawless. I got upgraded to first class, and somehow the only flight delay I experienced cut down an obscene layover from three hours to two and gave me an extra hour of sleep. That never happens. Thanks (for once), American!

We arrived at the venue just late/early enough to experience some of the joys that always seem to accompany middle of the night adventures. First, I was catcalled by a homeless man who started out with your standard “Hey baby, you’re beautiful. What’s your name?” which has been universal creep language for decades, but he really brought things forward into the 2020s when he began trying to guess my name (“Is it Melissa? Britney? Maybe you’re a Laura…”), and when I finally said “No,” he goes “Oh, so it’s Karen.” Dude’s got jokes.

Not long after that, we were approached by another man who was walking alone carrying what appeared to be a garment bag fresh from the dry cleaners (again…this was still the middle of the night. Context is everything). He told us he was going to meet his son who just got off a shift from a pizza shop and asked if we’d like ten free pizzas. Just to be clear, there were only three of us. We politely declined, listened to him ramble about something else unrelated, and then he wandered away. I was certain he was either lying, confused, or a little of both until about half an hour later we started to see people wandering down the street separately from each other with pizza boxes in hand coming from the direction he had gone. I’m not sad we missed out on free street pizza, but there’s something nice about the seemingly weirdoes of an area really looking out for each other.

The line was pretty relaxed all day, and by the time doors opened I was lucky enough to snag a great spot in the front row on Taylor’s side. It was my first time seeing Allen Mack Myers Moore opening, and I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the energy of having a full band on stage instead of Hanson’s usual guy with a guitar formula.

The first noticeable difference in the setlist from my previous shows was when Isaac pulled out “For Your Love” for his solo. He introduced it by saying “This is the first time this song has been played on this tour,” and while it was the first time *I* heard it this tour, that statement was not actually true. I swear I’ve heard Isaac make incorrect “This is the first time…” statements about songs at least four times now, but I’d probably suffer from setlist amnesia too if I was in the middle of a 90-show run. 

After my last three shows were over, I was sad to hear that I missed “Dressed in Brown Eyes” featuring John Calvin Abney on the harmonica later in the tour, so I was really happy to get to hear it in Minneapolis featuring Zack Mack from AMMM instead. It’s such a fun fan club song and I’m glad it made its way into a regular show.

It's Happening

I could try to pretend that I have anything left to say about this show that doesn’t relate to “Don’t Let Me Down,” but let’s be real. When I look back on this show in the future, the thing that is going to come to mind is the guest appearance of Reggie Willie.

I'll rewind for a moment just in case your forwarding address is under a rock: One of Hanson's singles from their latest album Red Green Blue is a Zac lead called "Don't Let Me Down" that features guitar from Zach Myers of Shinedown, who also happens to be Zach Myers of Allen Mack Myers Moore who was opening for Hanson at this show. If you have any hope of understanding what happened, you need to have seen the music video first.

I think we all had a little bit of an inkling that Reggie could make an appearance since Zac did a version of it already in Springfield, Zach Myers was heavily teasing his presence on social media right before the show, and this was the last “real” show Zach would be at to play guitar. At one point I even said “wouldn’t it be cool if he broke out the muscle suit from the video?” However, no version of me could have predicted the involvement of fruit.

When they all walked back out on stage for the encore, the lights were dimmed but I immediately noticed the tank top and shorts and knew we were about to get an epic performance. Unlike in Springfield, this time Zac was wearing the full original costume from the music video- Dum Bell’s gym shirt, yellow shorts, and upper body muscle suit with sunglasses. When Zac/Reggie walked out from behind the piano and the lights came back on, you can literally see the video I was taking at the time fall over and aim at the floor for a moment as my brain short circuited trying to process what I was seeing. I swear my hand just lost function momentarily while all power was rerouted to my eyes to decipher reality. It took me a split second to decide THAT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT REAL, and I got a good laugh thinking of the socks or whatever might be stuffed in those shorts for comedic effect after how thirsty fans got from the previous performance. This was clearly Zac’s troll response to the collective fandom meltdown those tiny blue shorts caused in Springfield.

I was laughing right up until he put his hand down his shorts and pulled out an actual banana, took a bite, and lobbed it in my general direction. There are certain situations in life where you’d like to think you know how you would react if it happened to you, but sometimes it takes actually being in that situation to find out what’s really in your heart. I’m proud to say that when that crotch banana came flying over my head, my gut instinct was to duck—not catch it. I think my favorite part was relaying this story to my absent friend later whose casual reply was “Well duh, you’re allergic to bananas!” Minor details. 

(P.S. Shoutout to Zach Myers for the best look of instant regret I have ever seen in my life the second after he bites the banana and seems to register that he's now committed to chewing and swallowing it.)

Though the whole thing was clearly meant to be some exaggerated workout display, a few of his moves were definitely bordering on bad male stripper vibes, and I couldn’t help but remember a time years ago when the same friend and I saw a small taste of something similar. You can check out the full story in my Instagram post below, but TL;DR, I’m pretty sure I met pre-fame Reggie back in 2013.

The whole performance was hilarious, and I'm really glad I got to be there in person for what has got to be the biggest "WTF is happening" moment I've ever experienced at a Hanson show. Well, maybe second to the time Taylor unexpectedly invited me on stage and then SUPER unexpectedly started dancing with me. And maybe third to the time that one guy jumped head first out of the balcony in front of me. I think the bottom line here is that anyone who thinks all Hanson shows are the same is not living the same fan life I am. Thanks, Hanson, for never letting me down when it comes to having a good time.

I finally got a new phone that does decent things even if it can't write blogs for me just yet, so while I'm usually quick to give you the thousand words instead of the picture, I'll leave you with a full HD video of my view for once:

TL;DR BTS lingo translation: "Don't Let Me (Look) Down". (Am I doing this right,  Rachel? 👋🤣)