November 8, 2022

RGB Tour: Rio de Janeiro

How do you kick off a post for a city that has so many things going for it? There was Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, some of the world's most famous beaches, swimsuits and snacks on practically every corner, and a guaranteed M&G with the band. Dear Mickey: here's a relocation address if you want to maintain the Happiest Place on Earth title.


In all seriousness, Rio de Janeiro's reputation as a beautiful travel destination is how we landed on doing the back half of the Brazil tour. As soon as our flight landed, we went to our hotel to drop off our things and immediately set out to see Christ the Redeemer to maximize the best weather day we got in Rio. We skipped lunch to avoid losing sightseeing daylight, and I have never been victimized by stairs so quickly in my life. Really poor life choice there, but thankfully I had an emergency granola bar in my bag, and the payoff of the view was totally worth it. Naturally, we found a hidden escalator on the way back down.

It was incredibly busy, and what you don't see in everyone's carefully angled Instagram shots is the absolute swarm of people just out of frame. It's impossible to put your arms out in the traditional "I'm mimicking Christ the Redeemer" pose without hitting at least three people on each side. It was a little surreal to see such an iconic statue in person at full size, but what I didn't realize is that a big part of the appeal (for me, at least), is that the area around the base of the statue also serves as an elevated lookout with a 360 degree view of the entire city. The cute monkeys chilling on the electric equipment taking chips from a couple of brave tourists were a bonus.

After Christ the Redeemer, we Ubered straight to Pão de Açúcar, or Sugarloaf Mountain. Christ the Redeemer offers a clear view of Sugarloaf, and vice versa, so it was neat to visit both in the same day and get to see the differing panoramic views of the city and to be able to look out and say "I was on that peak earlier!" Sugarloaf Mountain has a lower level called Morro da Urca, and you travel between the two by cable car (cue Song to Sing lyrics, but thankfully the cable was just fine). We stayed late and got to spend our first evening in Rio de Janeiro watching the sun set over the city from the top of a mountain, and then stuck around to see the night time view of a million city lights. It was the perfect ending to an amazing day, and I know I will never forget it.

Days like this are absolutely why I do what I do. I wish I could package it up in a little box and gift it to anyone who doesn't "get" why I travel for a band. I got to hear my favorite songs, meet my favorite band, and stand in the middle of one of the natural wonders of the world all in a 24-hr period. When I think about it like that, I want to ask right back, "How could you NOT?"

The Meet and Greet

Oh man, this show. So many words ahead.

So back in January, I attended Back to the Island. For anyone who may not be aware, BTTI always includes an individual photo with just you and the band, and this year, they canceled photos at the last minute. To make up for it, they offered every BTTI attendee the opportunity to choose one show on the RGB tour to receive a free concert ticket and photo makeup. I chose Rio de Janeiro because it seemed like a great way to ensure meeting Hanson in a country where I know it's virtually impossible otherwise, and I'm always down to get a photo with them in a fun new place. After years and years of watching other M&G groups gather at doors and enter seamlessly with a staff member, it did not occur to me that the language barrier might actually be an obstacle. I assumed we would show up early with our passports, find the rest of the M&Gers in front of the venue doors, and we'd be fine without even saying a word.

But when we showed up (exactly on time and not early at all thanks to traffic), the venue and box office were inside a mall. The line was outside in the parking lot nowhere near the venue entrance, and not a single fan with a M&G was in sight. After a pretty terrible attempt at a conversation with box office staff, I understood just enough to gather that we needed to take a right past the box office, and the place we needed to be was in between...something I didn't understand and something else I didn't understand. So we took a right, saw an exit, and the only thing that made sense was to go outside where the line was. I stopped and asked multiple people if they knew where to go for the M&G via a translation app, and at least three of them told us it's impossible to meet the band. We finally found a few girls that knew what M&Gs were and tried to help us, but they didn't know where to go and hadn't seen anyone else with one, either. We finally went back to the same box office staff member who told us to go right, and after another communication fail, he finally physically left the office and walked us to where we needed to be, which ended up being only a few feet past where we had taken an extreme wrong turn and exited the building. By the time he dropped us off, we were very late, they were already calling M&G names, and only two people were left ahead of us. We cut it incredibly close, but thankfully we made it.

The guys were kind as always, and we were given a moment to speak to them with just the two of us before taking our solo photos. I considered asking to hear "Truth" because the "Truth" and "With a Little Help From My Friends" pairing is the one thing I regretted missing the most on this tour that I never got to see, but I decided that it didn't feel right making a song request in a place that sees Hanson so infrequently. (I also had a weird feeling about not wanting to mess up the chemistry of the last setlist of the tour and wanting to let things just play out naturally, but maybe that's going too deep). Instead, I fangirled about seeing waterfalls and thanked them for their time before heading a stampede that miraculously did not send me into a faceplant even after hurdling a ton of randomly spaced steps in the dark.

The Show

One thing I've failed to mention until now is that in Brazil, doors don't open an hour before the show; they open TWO hours before the show. At our first stop in Sao Paulo, I joked that an extra hour of silence is better than an hour of some past openers, but by Rio I was ready for any musical distraction to help pass the time. The fans around me made no attempt to keep personal space for those two hours, and suddenly it made sense why we saw multiple girls passing out and getting pulled over the barricade at several of these shows. Also, for what it's worth, I don't condone squeezing your way to front row after it's full, but here's a freebie tip if that's your style: when you're picking where to go, probably don't choose the spot between two people who obviously came together. I'm no mathematician, but I don't need a probability formula to tell me that your odds of success would've been much higher if you'd simply tried my side that was further from the stage and had a stranger next to it.

And finally, the show. During our brief accidental visit to the line, we were given printouts of the characters from the Don't Let Me Down video (I got an angry looking Reggie Willie head that I prayed wouldn't escape my pocket and make an uninvited appearance during the M&G) and instructed to use them during DLMD. Ironically, Hanson chose to open with that song, which was completely out of their usual order. I have no idea if they were tipped off or if it was a coincidence, but I kind of enjoyed being able to aggressively wave Reggie Willie at them every time they wanted us to fist pump.

During the solos, Isaac opened by saying he was going to play a song that hadn't been played much on the tour, so I immediately started recording with happy memories of Brasilia's surprise "Greener Pastures" on my mind. What we got instead was the absolute cheesiest speech I have ever heard in my life about how women are castles that deserve to be guarded or won or whatever knight-ish imagery can induce the most vomit. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally happy for Isaac and his "put a ring on it" skills and am genuinely glad he has a love that inspires him to put it in a song and share it with the world. I'm sure it resonated deeply with someone just like I'm sure there's a song out there that gives me goosebumps while someone else yawns. I don't even dislike the song, I just can't cheer and swoon with sincerity for a speech that goes out to "all those old-fashioned guys and girls looking for that special forever kind of love".  If people had real-time captions, mine would have been flashing *stares in single.* Also, I did ten shows and heard "For Your Love" at five, so I should really know by now not to trust anything he introduces as rare.

The stark contrast I can't help making here is when Taylor started introducing HIS solo. I honestly did not mean to stack these two moments up for a good brother/bad brother compare and contrast segment, but Isaac, if you want to take notes, here's a pen. I'm not sure how to get you access to Taylor's apparent ability to read my mind, but we'll work on it. Anyway, Taylor started introducing his solo by talking about how he was going to play a song he couldn't stop thinking about all day and about how important the words and the meaning are, and the whole time I'm thinking "It can't be Truth. I'm not that lucky." But then it WAS "Truth," and I'm standing there grinning like an absolute lunatic because they're playing THE SONG while also regretting not mentioning it during the M&G because Taylor probably would have appreciated if I verbalized a thing he was already thinking. They'll never see this, but I still want to say thanks to Taylor for going with his gut feeling, because his gut feeling was also my gut feeling, and that feeling was utter happiness by the end of "With A Little Help From My Friends."

The rest of the setlist was more or less the usual for this tour, but every song was so full of energy, and I really didn't want it to end. "I Don't Want To Go Home" was certainly a bittersweet and true way to finish things off. After the final bow, all three Hansons jumped down off of the stage and grabbed hands down the entire front row, and our non-existent personal space became even smaller as arms shot out all around from everyone trying to get a moment of Hanson's time. I gave up trying to save the inches between me and the barricade and figured I might as well give the girls behind me their best shot. The guys were so gracious, grabbing as many hands as possible and even making two rounds going all the way down the line and coming back up it again. When they were almost done, I looked down and was mildly horrified to find that I was bent pretty far over the barricade from the force of the crowd, and my shirt was pulled dangerously low in the process. I literally couldn't move to fix it until Hanson cleared the area, so I spent the final moments of their goodbyes with an arm slung awkwardly over my chest. We said goodbye to a sweet fan we met in the M&G line, and then it was over.

Beach, Please

We had one extra day after the show, so I put it to good use exploring the beaches. In the spirit of discussing exposing more skin than usual, I have to give a shoutout to Brazilian beach culture, which I really admire because it feels like such a body positive place. We saw a wide range of coverage from tiny thongs to swim dresses and oversized t-shirts on people of all shapes and sizes, and none of it felt out of place. If you know me, you know that I'm a little bit obsessed with swimsuits. If you know me well, you know that I'm always hunting for styles that will cover my backside, a goal that gets harder and harder with current trends. When we decided to go to Brazil, I challenged myself to temporarily let go of my usual quest for modesty and embrace a "When in Rio" mindset. I bought a cute little Brazilian bikini, and while I'm probably not going to roll up to the next BTTI in a thong (you're welcome), it was kind of freeing to let myself not worry that I was showing too much skin or what some random stranger might think, even though I was quoting a modified Twilight script in my head half of the time as the palest person on any given beach.

"Your skin is pale white and ice cold. I know what you are."

"Say it."


But I digress. Liberating beachwear excursions aside, we also Ubered to the furthest stretch of beach and walked three miles from Leblon to Ipanema to Arpoador and back to our hotel on Copacabana to squeeze in as much beach sightseeing as possible. We tried to watch the sun set from Arpoador rock, but it was so cloudy we couldn't see much. I'm just grateful the rain held off until we got on our red eye flight back home.

So that's it. I came home and had to go back to normal life with work and bills and no infinity pools and no Hanson shows. I guess that's the trade off so I can hopefully earn the money and time off to do it all again somewhere else with a new set of songs, new tourist destinations, new experiences, and a few of the same friendly faces along the way if I'm lucky. If you feel like you're being spared my usual super cheesy endings, don't worry, I've saved you some:

It's called pão de queijo, and trust me, it has just the right amount. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really like your witty writing! And I love that you're not afraid to critique Hanson. Even though I am happily married and ooey-gooey loved up, that speech kinda makes me gag. :D