December 7, 2010

It must be the end of the road...(Baltimore 11/13 & Falls Church 11/14)


People warned us that the Sonar is a crappy venue in a sketchy part of town. I didn't think much of this warning because someone always seems to say every venue is in a sketchy part of town. When we got there, I realized it was true. I was immediately glad we didn't bother to come early. There were homeless people everywhere, and even walking in groups was a bit scary. The closest bathroom was at a subway a few blocks away, and you had to ask for a key in order to use the bathroom. The key was given to us wired to a set of metal tongs, which further cemented my opinion of the area.

We didn't arrive until some time in the afternoon, and we were somewhere around the 60s in line. There was no walk, so we considered trying to go to the in-store performance and signing, but we didn't want to move our cars and we weren't about to walk a mile (ironic, huh?) and risk getting lost. It was cold and we were miserable and exhausted (Valerie and I drove all night with less than an hour of sleep), so we gave up trying not to be the oddballs and laid out some blankets in an attempt to catch up on a little sleep. We gave ourselves an hour to take a nap and ignored the handful of strange looks. Of course we were all so delirious at that point that instead of sleeping, we kept talking and giggling, and maybe a little of ducking and hiding, followed by more giggling. Needless to say, there was no sleep, but at least it was warm.

When we got inside, we realized there really wasn't any raised area or place to stand off to the side where you could see. You were either up front with a good view, or you weren't. There were already 2-3 rows of people filling up, but we spotted empty space by the barricade on Isaac's side, though it was very far to the left. I had to choose between standing in 2nd row behind some taller people to have an obstructed view of all 3 Hansons, or standing at the barricade and know I wouldn't see Zac at all. I decided I'd seen enough of Zac and would see him again in Falls Church and opted to stand in the front instead. It turned out to be a wise decision because somehow by the time Hanson hit the stage, the crowd had shifted enough that I could see all 3 of them just fine.

There was a door to our immediate left that seemed to lead outside, and before Hanson came on, there was a commotion and someone from the venue pulled a curtain from the stage and held it over the door, while Hanson clearly sneaked through. It kind of reminded me of someone holding up a sheet while someone changes behind it--it might cover enough to get the job done, but it's pretty obvious.

It's hard to know what to say about the concert itself because while the experience is different every time, there are only so many ways to express how awesome Voice in the Chorus is, or how much fun I had jumping during If Only, you know? I guess a few things that stand out would be Taylor getting distracted and messing up the lyrics to Penny and Me. I feel like he messed up something else during the acoustic set or shortly after as well, but I can't remember what. At the end of the acoustic set, they left the stage to Taylor for a solo, so I got pretty excited because I think this was the first solo of this leg of the tour for me. He said "Hmm, what to play..." so I attempted to shout "Believe!" but it didn't come out very loud. I'll leave it at the top of my list of songs to hear for now. He played Never Let Go instead, which of course made most of the crowd go wild, though I think it should definitely leave behind it's "rare" title by now.

At some point during the show, a really drunk girl shoved her way up to where we were and tried to get in front of us, saying she was trying to get to her friend or something. I guess that works when you're in the middle of the crowd, but she hardly needed to get between me and the barricade to get to any "friend". She knocked Sam's purse out of her hand, and sadly we haven't seen her camera since, so part of me wonders if the girl was just playing drunk fan in order to do something a little more underhanded. There was also a lovely girl behind us shouting "Kiss me, Taylor!" But there's always one of those in some variation, isn't there?

The encore, Gimme Some Lovin', was a good surprise. We were all singing and dancing to it as it was played between sets, so it was nice to hear it from Hanson, and it was also a first for me.

Overall it was a good show. Not the best area I've been to (this is what English teachers call understatement, folks), but there was zero line drama, we got a good spot without trying, the setlist was pretty good, and we weren't around anyone particularly obnoxious during the show (minus Taylor girl, but she didn't last for long).


We were all so tired and cold that we didn't bother to show up early for Falls Church either. I had my first Noodles & Co experience instead, and I'm sad to say I'm hooked even though there isn't a single one within a 3 state radius of my hometown. We joked about making tour plans revolve around which cities have a Noodles & Co in the future. Why not?

We made it back with minutes to spare before the walk. Surprisingly they were still giving out numbers, and I was #121. You can see a definite decline in caring over the course of the whole trip--I started out as #1 at the first show, then fell to 121 by the last (the decline in temperature may have been directly proportional to this decline too, however). Valerie and I got in line to pick up her tickets from will call, and Hanson came out just as it was her turn at the window. Zac turned and looked suspiciously at those of us getting tickets and asked, "Are you guys going to walk?" I told him yes, that we were just hoping to pick up our tickets first, which seemed like a satisfactory answer because he turned and followed his brothers after that. I guess maybe he thought we'd rather stay and pick up tickets? Or maybe he thought we were in line for the show already, who knows.

The walk was good, and my feet were on their way to being numb, though I vividly remember the walk I took there in October 2008 being much more brutal on my feet (or quite possibly, my feet were just wimpier back then). I managed to see the grossest debris yet on this walk as I narrowly escaped stepping on a freshly dead squirrel. I'd rather not think about the number of people who may not have been so lucky. This particular walk speech stood out to me a little more than usual because Taylor referenced the way he snapped at some fans on the St. Louis walk for not wearing their shoes. He told us he was going to deliver the same message to us, only without yelling. The rest of the speech just seemed very clear and well spoken to me, and I'm glad I went on this walk. Near the end Taylor said something about the walk not being about Hanson, and Zac, who was standing in the very back of the crowd shouted "Aren't those guys 12?" It was definitely a well-timed moment for comic relief, and so dead-on that I think several of the turning heads weren't expecting to see Zac as the source, but rather an insulting bystander.

Back at the venue, I spotted Nikki Reed standing a few feet away from Taylor, grinning, barefoot, and aiming a camera at him--all things I'm extremely used to seeing from any other fan. I heard she was coming to the show, but I was impressed to see that she took the walk as well AND did it barefoot.

Once we got inside, we debated which area would deliver the best view. Having been on Isaac's side for the vast majority of these shows, we opted for Taylor's side and stood at the front of the bar area. In retrospect, I'm not so sure I'd make that same decision again. I guess I'll pare down the rant I had going and just say that there was an extremely drunk girl who was using one of the poor guys William walked in from the VIP door as a human stripper pole. Needless to say the guys William brought moved shortly after the show began, and I don't mean Hanson.

Unfortunately, this same girl was a little distracting throughout the whole show, straying into the walkway in front of us where security had to continuously remove people. I tapped her more than once to let her know she needed to move, and I'll give her a little credit by saying that every time I tapped her, she moved without putting up a fight. I think she was just honestly so far gone that she didn't know she was being obnoxious or in the way. She definitely had a good time, at least, though I bet her morning was a bit rougher than mine.

One thing that definitely stands out to me show-wise was Zac playing Go solo on the guitar. It was absolutely beautiful and blows every other time I've heard that song live out of the water completely. At the end, he spoke to the crowd and said that since we probably knew the words, we could sing the chorus in the background as he sang the main verse. I was really impressed with how well the crowd pulled this off, and seeing the huge grin on Zac's face while hearing us was priceless. It was a really neat moment to witness and I'm glad I was there to be a part of it. Taylor singing Love Me was another highlight, though my memory of hearing it in Atlanta in 2007 has me thinking it was somehow better the first time.

The encore was ridiculously amazing too. There was a poll on and people could vote for which album they wanted the encore to come from. This Time Around won, and though I had voted for it as well in hopes of hearing In the City, they took the closing in a different, more subdued direction. They closed with Save Me, Dying to Be Alive, and A Song to Sing, all of which they livestreamed on their website. It was different from the usual crazy energetic encore, but it kind of made me sad winding down my last show like that. A Song to Sing definitely had me missing these guys already.

Since it was our last show and Lacie's birthday, we really wanted to wait by the bus and say goodbye. Zac was the only one that came out while we were there, but for what felt like the hundredth time, he politely took his time signing autographs and taking pictures with anyone that asked. When he made his way to us, Rachel and I ended up saying that it was our last show at the exact same time, then laughing because we kept doing a lot of the same things over and over as the trip progressed (in addition to being the girls with long hair, glasses, and grey sweatshirts at any given moment). I laughed and explained that I thought we were slowly becoming the same person, and he told us we were a couple of lemmings.
And while I'm sure he was going on the general connotation of the word as beings that are identical and follow each other, the actual definition is frighteningly close to what some might say of Hanson fans:

Lemming: (n) a member of any large group following an unthinking course towards mass destruction

Cue the image of a bunch of fans running off a cliff, ironically chanting "And we won't go down!"

We said goodbye to two friends that had to hit the road right after the show, then got some ridiculously good sleep and made a last trip to Noodles & Co. before hitting the road for the last time. Or I guess I should say, for the last time this tour ;-)

*I started this blog after my 11th concert. I realized there would be many more to come, and I was starting to lose little details and memories from each show already. 20 shows later (bringing the total to 31), I'm glad I started this. I know most of it doesn't mean anything to anyone but me, but I'm okay with that. It's fun to look back and remember little things I had forgotten and see how my perspective has changed over time. Here's to 20 more and then some!

December 4, 2010

Atlanta 11/10/10 & Charlotte 11/12/10

These shows were great because I got to spend time with more friends I hadn't seen (okay, hadn't seen since Halloween, at least).


We got up early the day of the show and drove to Atlanta from Orlando. Even with a good night's sleep behind us and driving during daylight hours, it felt pretty long. We arrived around 2 or 3 PM and were in the 60's in line. We also had pretty perfect timing and ended up directly next to our friends in line even without making any specific plans about meeting up.

This walk was the first I took on the trip since I worked the walk table at the FL shows, and it was also the first walk that was pitch dark outside. Bare feet + night time + Atlanta = scary combination, but I did it anyway. Atlanta was actually the first city I ever took the walk in over three years ago, so I was glad I got to participate. As per my usual, I ended up at the back of the walk before the halfway speech, which added an extra layer of creepy. As we neared the end, a small group of us got stuck at a red light with Zac leading the way as everyone else got away. Or was that Charlotte? I'm not sure anymore, but it's entirely possible that it happened twice.
Getting in line after the walk was, once again, chaotic. This time I had a will call ticket that wasn't released until 6 or so, so after we came back from the walk, there was a massive crowd taking over the front of the venue. The venue/Hanson tried to separate the line in two, with walkers on the left and non-walkers on the right. The box office was located directly between the two lines, so you can see how this got messy fast. It was impossible to discern who was trying to get a ticket and who was trying to smash themselves into the walk line. I talked to the people around me and found that I was standing behind 3 people who also needed tickets, so we reasoned that we were as "in line" as we were going to get. We stood waiting for what had to have been at least 15 minutes without ever moving, even though it was obvious other people were managing to get tickets. It was so packed that when I looked back, I saw Taylor and Isaac looking around looking like they were trying to assess the situation to find a hole in the crowd so they could get back inside. Instead, Taylor had to push his way through, and I ended up sandwiched even closer than I already was when he went past us. In the end, those of us needing will call tickets had to forcibly push past lots of people who were "in line" for the show.

As soon as I got my ticket I got out of the mess and found my other friends in line, past the big cluster of people, thankfully. Being in the front is great, but sometimes it feels equally as great to relax further back and not have to worry about all of the chaos.

When we got inside, we saw that each side of the venue had raised sections with chairs and tables. There were probably 4 on each side, and each one was raised slightly higher than the one below it, so they offered a good view. It was the perfect size for all 6 of us to spread out across the front of one. It was so nice to be able to sit before the show and during the set change, and it was especially nice for the pregnant one of the bunch.

The show was great, with the exception of closing with The Ugly Truth. I love my Hanson, but I can't love that song no matter how hard I try to. I think Taylor loves it because he gets to run around the stage uninhibited and jump from the piano, but it's a little bit of a crowd killer. People don't seem to sing along so much or jump around, and it's just generally not one of my favorites. I had a great time dancing with my friends during the rest of the show, though. We all did the TBS dance, or what we could in a confined space, anyway. Though I've heard Strong Enough to Break probably a dozen times in the past, it felt more special that night after having quit my job recently. It was definitely my own personal anthem for a little while during that time. We were all a little ridiculous acting out Oh Darling again, and of course we danced during Give a Little.

This was the 2nd time I watched as a guy and a girl were pulled on stage (not counting my own experience), and the whole thing ran pretty smoothly. Taylor picked the guy out first and then let the guy pick the girl, which I thought was cute. They did a good job going with the flow and looked like they had a good time up there. Suddenly I wonder if a lack of guys near the front ever has any impact over whether or not they do the whole dance bit on a given night, but this guy was in the front row ready to go, so it worked out. (after seeing the stage in Baltimore and St. Pete, I realize that stage size must be another important factor in the planning. No way would they want someone tripping and ripping out important cords on on of those tiny stages!)

We waited out by the bus with Heather because it was her last show, and we were thoroughly entertained by some cats as we waited. Someone had propped the stage door open with a brick, and we all watched and laughed as a cat stealthily sneaked (that's right, sneaked. Snuck isn't a word no matter how much better it sounds) past the door and into the venue. When a worker came out, we let him know, and we laughed even harder as moments later we saw the cat come running out after clearly having been chased. It gets better, though. Instead of being scared off, the cat returned with a tiny cat gang, and we watched incredulously as not one, but THREE cats slipped through the door a second time. This time when they were chased out, the door was shut firmly behind them, lesson learned. There was also the creepy remains of what must have been some kind of Halloween costume laying off to the side in some overgrown weeds. It was metallic silver and looked like some kind of space suit without a head, but the body still retained shape, so if you didn't look carefully, it looked like a shiny dead body thrown by the wayside. I should have taken a picture for sure. Zac was the only Hanson to come out, and once again he took his time with the fans, giving out both autographs and pictures. I caught a random piece of conversation where he mentioned having been naked at some point, and stating that he couldn't remember whether or not he was in the shower at the time. No idea what that was about! He also seemed enamored with Megan's little brother and was all smiles while talking to him. Her brother got Zac to autograph the back of his hand, and Zac warned that he was a little sick and didn't want to spread germs. A few days later when my cough came into full force, I realized he wasn't lying.


I can't remember what time we showed up for this one; some time between 12 and 3 is my best estimate. I think we were somewhere between 50-70 in line (this is why I need to start forcing myself to write this stuff down closer to when it actually happened). It was Valerie's Birthday and we were all really excited to be there. Two friends even came to surprise everyone else and didn't let it slip that they were coming, which was fantastic. I think in all there were...8 of us that stood together in the balcony. I'll cut off the numbers there because I think we'd reach the upper teens if I included everyone we were collectively friends with at the show; it was definitely like a big party!This was dark walk #2, and this time I smartened up and fished my flashlight out of the trunk (or rather, Rachel mentioned how useful it would be to have a flashlight, and I realized I actually had one somewhere in the car). It got really cold that night for some reason, and stepping in freezing mud wasn't one of the highlights of the day. Once again I ended up in the back of the walk, and I think Valerie and I were actually dead last at one point. I think Valerie or Rachel commented on the lack of fire ants since previous Charlotte walks, and Isaac turned around and added that it was probably too cold for them. I'd believe it. On the way back, our group got cut off from the front portion by a red light and traffic once again, and Taylor waited impatiently on the other side of the road. As we finally crossed, Taylor stood defiantly in front of a big truck to make sure we made it. As we passed him, the guy in the truck actually started revving his engine in a threatening way. As Taylor stepped away and the truck drove off, I heard "Hey, ya'll, I've got a big truck!" in that mock-hick voice, followed by a chorus of giggles. Back in line, I met back up with all of my friends and found out just how awesome Taylor had been to Morgen, and my respect for them grew even more.

When we got inside, we headed for the balcony on Isaac's side and got decent spots where we could see (well, as decent as you can get at Amos's without being on stage. There really is no decent spot in that venue between the random poles and high-mounted speakers). I thought the crowd was going to be horribly dull watching their reaction to Jarrod Gorbel, but they perked right up for Hanson. Oddly I think out of the whole trip, this was the worst reaction I saw for Jarrod, and the best reaction I saw for Hanson. How sad.

The show had great energy and a great setlist. I'm tempted to say it was my favorite of this leg because of the people I was with; we had so much fun that night. Change in My Life had several of us in tears; it was an awesome moment for sure. Give a Little and Lost Without Each Other brought a full on dance party where we quit looking over the balcony at the stage all together and just let loose. I think I had my back to the stage for the entirety of both of those songs. To anyone else, we probably looked like crazy drunk people, but really, we were just ridiculously happy. In the City brought the perfect end to the perfect show, and Rachel and I had just been talking about how we wanted to hear it as a closer. We jumped like crazy after dancing like crazy, and we walked out feeling like we had been beaten up, but in a good way. That is probably the most tired I've ever been after a show, which was really unfortunate since we had a 7 hr drive to Baltimore and we planned to leave immediately. After cupcakes and hugs, a few bittersweet goodbyes and a cracked hubcap, we hit the road yet again.

*1/18/11  I'm not going to edit this entry because it makes for a good laugh, and quite frankly, I obviously don't really remember enough details to correct the error anyway. As Valerie pointed out in the comments, she didn't even take the walk in Charlotte, so scratch all of the stuff I attributed to her on that walk. I think maybe it was Whitney U.? How the heck do I not know who I walked with in Charlotte? I guess when the number of friends I saw matches the number of shows I went to on that leg, things can get confusing.

November 27, 2010

Epcot Food & Wine Festival 11/8 and 11/9

We spent the first day exclusively at Epcot. We saw Captain EO, which was hilariously cheesy. The first time the screen showed Michael Jackson's face, a little girl behind us whispered loudly, "Mommy, is that a girl?" We couldn't help but burst out laughing at that. Completely priceless. We also rode Test Track, some kind of boat ride featuring Donald Duck in Mexico, another boat ride through Norway, and I put on my big girl pants and opted for the more intense version of Mission Space, which turned out to be much more intense than I remember it being when I was 16. Soarin' was probably my favorite, though.

Since the Food & Wine festival was going on and I managed to not spend any money on tickets, I decided to let myself try out a few things. The prices were actually pretty decent, but the portions were small. This actually works well for someone who has spent the day riding rollercoasters and intends to jump and dance wildly for an hour or so. My first choice was a potato pierogi with sour cream, caramelized onions, and sausage from Poland. Yum!

Next was chocolate mousse from France, which was so delicious that I made an involuntary sound at the first bite. It was so good that we went back to France on the 2nd day and I tried a Napoleon, something I had been eying the first day when I got the mousse. It was good, but not nearly as good as the mousse.

We chose to wear Hanson t-shirts that day, which sparked a lot of random conversations with the Disney staff. The girl at the Kim Possible station talked to us for a few minutes about how she didn't know they were still making music, and she had just seen them in the break room and was excited about it. Apparently "the young one" was buying a Snickers from a vending machine. The guy taking our picture with Duffy (apparently Mickey's new teddy bear? Ploy for money if I ever saw one) asked if we were going to see Hanson. I told him no, so he got defensive and said "Oh, I just thought you girls look a little young to like Hanson." I asked how old he thought we looked. He said 20, which led us to question how old he thought Hanson was. Normally people think we're too old to like Hanson, so it was just weird that he thought Hanson was older. I think he had Hanson pegged about right, he just thought we were all younger than we are.

I was happily surprised at how many people turned up to watch the show, and I think Hanson felt the same way. Taylor made several comments on stage that led me to believe that he didn't expect a lot of regular Hanson fans to show; he seemed impressed to see familiar faces and a sea of Hanson t-shirts in addition to plenty of curious vacationers. We ran into some other friends that didn't care about where they were going to be and also like to dance, so we had a blast rocking out by the wall for every show. We had our own little flash mob every time they played TBS (which was every single show, so 6 times total). Because of where we we re st anding, we were mostly surrounded by the random vacationers, and there were a few times where we were getting more attention than Hanson during TBS. The 2nd day, the awesome girls we met up with brought glow sticks and we had a blast dancing around like fools once again. I've come to the realization lately that people probably peg me and my friends as the drunks at any given show, but we're just naturally awesome.

I also couldn't resist splurging on some sequined Minnie ears.

November 24, 2010

Ft. Lauderdale, FL 11/6/10

This show was about as unlucky as St. Pete was lucky, but it happens. Besides, the lucky days wouldn't seem nearly as awesome if there weren't a few downers mixed in, right?

The drive to Ft. Lauderdale from St. Pete was an experience in itself. Surviving four years of college with insomnia (which is now more or less cured) left me with the ability to stay awake for long periods of time and get by on minimal amounts of sleep. It never fails that when I'm on the road, everyone hits that point of passing out from exhaustion before I do, and even when I hit it, a 30 min.--1hr nap will usually cure me long enough to get me to the next destination. That being said, I drove the whole way from Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete with one passenger completely passed out, and one who was in and out of sleep but was only semi-conscious at best. The GPS somehow took us on a two-lane back road the whole way there, and the signs for panther and alligator crossing didn't make me feel very safe.

We finally pulled up to the venue around 6 AM, and I was shocked to realize we were the first ones there. While we had every intention of being early in line the day before, the purpose of driving through the night to Ft. Lauderdale was more of a way to not spend money on a hotel than anything else (FYI--we showered at a friend's house later that morning. No hotel does not equal no shower!). I got a little sleep early that morning, but no more than an hour or two, and I was also having that queasy excited feeling that means I can't eat much. Not a good combination.

The line was pretty laid back and I fully enjoyed meeting a group of teenage guys and girls that were at their first Hanson show. The guys seemed the most excited about being there, and they were absolutely adorable about it. I guess one was #31 in line because I remember hearing him say "Hey guys, little known fact! Hanson's favorite number is 31! Now who wants to trade with me?" No takers, obviously, but I got a kick out of it. They also ran into Taylor at some point in the day and were really excited about getting a picture with him. One of them mentioned wanting to hear Save Me live, and they were definitely the reason it got played later during the show. They seemed really impressed that I was first in line and had a sleeping bag, though I tried to explain that it wasn't anything special and showing up at 6 AM was actually nothing for lots of fans.

There was lots of confusion with the walk line and due to circumstances beyond our control (and fault), we lost our spots at the front. We got in after the walk line was done, and some friends manged to save a spot for me up front, but there wasn't room for both of us and we got split up. The stage and barricade were both pretty high and I was squished, so in retrospect I honestly wish I had gone with Rachel to stand off to the side instead of staying in the front row.

The show was good but I think my mood was killed a little bit by that point, and watching a bra fall from the balcony almost onto Taylor didn't really lift my spirits. The one highlight I recall was Save Me as the encore because the guys we met earlier kept shouting for Hanson to play it throughout the show. At one point, Taylor even shouted back "Hold on, it's not time for that yet," or something to that effect. It was cute, and I was excited to hear it for the first time.

Out by the bus after the show, all 3 guys came out again, and Rachel and I decided to get our inflatable keyboards signed by Taylor in addition to a microphone from our "lead singer" of the 80s Hare Band who had never had the opportunity to meet Hanson or get an autograph (see my Halloween post if that makes no sense). The crowd was much larger and was held back behind a barricade, so the guys were pretty quick to come out, but they were also pretty quick to leave. We could tell Taylor had no clue what we were giving him to sign, but there were so many people around that there wasn't really a chance for us to explain. It makes me wonder how many things they've had shoved at them where they walk away thinking "What the heck was that anyway?" or "Why did they want THAT signed?" Plenty, I'm sure. Zac stayed out the longest again and since it only seemed reasonable to get Taylor to sign the keyboard, I got a picture with him instead. Isaac was too crowded/occupied. I have to say I'm really appreciative of how much they put into trying to please their fans. It only took a few seconds, but he was very nice about it and it's crazy to think just how many people's days (or weeks, or heck, even lives) they make just by taking a moment to smile for a camera.

November 23, 2010

St. Petersburg, FL 11/5/10

This was probably the luckiest I've ever been at a show. Alright no, I take that back, but it was pretty close. Top 3 at least. Everything just seemed to strangely fall into place for us.

We were first in line and first in the venue, and when it finally came time to go inside, I was a little shocked to see the front row already almost full when we walked in.  At first we were pretty far over on Isaac's side, but when we overheard the girls in the dead center say they were only staying for Jarrod Gorbel's set, we jumped on it and stood behind them instead and took their spots when they left.

It was neat to meet someone who understood our passion for Hanson that felt the same way about Jarrod. I believe the girl in front of me said it was her 7th show, and later when we talked to Jarrod, he mentioned her by name as being a loyal fan. Hanson's got a lot of work to do if they're going to remember the names of everyone who has seen them 7 times ;-)

The show was really good and it was definitely the best spot I've ever been in during a concert. There was no barricade and it was a small stage, so it felt pretty intimate. The girl and her boyfriend standing directly behind us were great and we had a blast dancing like fools and rocking out together. They also got in on our ridiculous "that's what she said" addiction that lasted for the whole trip. Unfortunately, small stage + front row center+ no barricade = whoever's on stage can hear you. So when I cracked a that's what she said joke while Jarrod was talking and we started laughing loudly, he heard us and stopped to ask if it was a pity laugh. Oops. We took the time to explain ourselves and apologize after the show. There was also an awkward moment where Jarrod realized there was a big gap in the crowd to my left where two girls had sat down. At first it felt like he was staring right at me during the song, and I had a moment where I thought okay, this is one of those times where he picks some random girl in the audience to sing to or whatever, and I'm in his line of sight. Then he stopped singing dead in the middle of the song and said "Is everything okay? Did somebody fall down?" and looked to my left, and I realized he had been trying to figure out the lack of people next to me. I gave a pitiful thumbs up as someone else yelled out "People are just sitting down!" Ouch! Oh well, he was a trooper and kept playing.

I don't need to add that Hanson was awesome. Rachel and I were a little bit ridiculous with our dancing, definitely moreseo than I'm used to, but I've got to say I loved it so much that I adopted it for all of the rest of the shows. I'll forever be in love with Thinking 'Bout Somethin', Give a Little, and Lost Without Each Other from now on (not that I wasn't already, but the ridiculous dancing sealed the deal). I fully loved Voice in the Chorus and Isaac and Zac's crazy headbanging; Isaac's hair is just perfect for it. I didn't fully love Taylor shoving Dimitrius right into our faces for his guitar solo during the band intro (no barricade and the height of the stage put his crotch right at our faces). It was equally terrifying when Isaac came up to the center to encourage the crowd during Hey because it felt like we might punch him when we were throwing our fists up.

It was a really awesome experience for me personally, but I didn't get the feeling that the rest of the crowd was all that excited to be there. It felt like all the energy was coming from us and a few other people nearby, but there were several times where it felt like we were the only people jumping (during appropriate times; I swear. We weren't just hopping during Carry You There or anything obnoxious).

We were somehow just as lucky after the show. Heather had caught a guitar pick from Isaac, Rachel got me my first setlist from Muff, and one of the awesome venue guys went backstage and grabbed her a call sheet. We went out by the bus in hopes of getting the setlist and call sheet signed and Heather wanted pictures. I don’t think I’ve ever been at the bus when all 3 came out in the same night, or when it has happened, they were all in a hurry or I managed to miss one of them while I was getting something from the car. Somehow, they all came out and were all pretty leisurely about it. Isaac was first and quickest, but he took the time to sign autographs and take pictures. Zac came out when Isaac was almost done, and he stayed out for what felt like a long time and seemed to be pretty chatty. Taylor came out a good bit later after the crowd was significantly smaller, but he signed autographs and took pictures as well. It seemed a little cheesy, but I debated asking him to sign next to Give a Little. Before I could make up my mind and ask, though, he had already taken the setlist from me and signed it. When I took it back I saw that he had indeed signed right over Give a Little and had dated 2010 directly next to that song. Probably just a lucky coincidence, but I’ll take it. I actually had a lot of fun just talking to everyone I knew as we waited around, and I had that awesome excited feeling of just having finished and awesome show and knowing that I had several more ahead. Our luck carried over to parking when we got to the car and didn’t have a ticket even though we’d been parked in the same spot for way more than the allotted 2 hours. The whole day was definitely a success.

November 22, 2010

Make it Out Alive (a Hare raising event)

As soon as I heard that Hanson was going to have a member event in October, I secretly wished it would be on Halloween and I could somehow go to it. As soon as I found out it was true, I started plotting. When I realized tour started the next day, things got dangerous.

Long story short--my desire to go to this one show somehow spawned into me hitting 9 shows and being on the road for over 2 weeks. I'm not sure how it happened, but I'm glad it did.

For this show, I ended up going with 6 other awesome girls, and we came up with what I still hold as the best group costume idea ever. And okay, so nobody else seems to get it, but I still think it's genius. Are you ready for this? 80s Hare Band. Basically we were an 80s Hair Band, only we substituted "Hare" for "Hair" and added bunny ears and tails to the ridiculous 80s attire. If you want to add another complicated layer, you might call us a "hare band air band" because we also carried inflatable instruments, but we left that part off of the contest card. We'd like to think that we didn't win (or even rank, sadly enough) based on the fact that 1) whoever did the judging didn't get the genius idea, or 2) nobody wanted to shell out 7 prizes if we won. The truth is it probably just wasn't as awesome as we all thought, but like I said, I still think it was an amazing idea.

Anyway, it was a blast. How often do you get to scout out ridiculous clothes at thrift stores and glue glitter and sequins to anything they'll stick to? Maybe once a year for Halloween enthusiasts, but my Halloween experience as an adult started and ended with my tiny Alice in Wonderland costume from freshman year of college. Lesson learned. This was a lot like prom--most of the fun was in buying and wearing the dress. There's just some kind of inner joy that only a girl can comprehend in walking into a thrift store, finding the perfect pair of $1.50 80s heels, and then bedazzling the heck out of them with multi-colored glitter. Try it some time.

We didn't line up until 6, but of course there were already a bunch of people in line. We got a big kick out of the poor tour manager soldering locks off of the trailer hitched to the tour bus. I'll never know what went wrong, but it was entertaining to watch. The costumes were really interesting, and I was impressed that I didn't see a single person in line not wearing a costume. I was also impressed with the obvious lack of 1) slutty outfits, and 2) people dressed as Hanson. I guess I should have a little more faith.

As we walked in the venue, I stepped on a knife, and it just didn't quite register in my mind that it was fake at first. I stopped and had a bit of a "Did I just step on a knife?" moment, and then a random guy carrying a box of merch inside stooped down, picked it up, handed it to me, and said "Here, this is for you!" then walked away smiling. So of course I did what any 80s clad girl with bunny ears would do; I gave him a WTF look, tucked the knife into the waistband of my skirt, and kept walking to scout out a good spot. The whole thing was weird and I'm still not sure what exactly happened or why. What I do know is there's a rubber knife somewhere in the trunk of my car and some person out there without one.

We ended up with a good spot on Taylor's side, technically front row just behind a speaker. It ended up being the best spot possible for us. Earlier I debated whether to take an inflatable keyboard or an inflatable guitar. The piano player in me wanted to take the keyboard, but the practical part of me (is there such a thing anymore?) knew it would be easier to fake rock out on a guitar than on a keyboard in the middle of the crowd. The pianist in me won out, so I took the keyboard and hoped for the best. With the speaker directly in front of us, we were able to stack the keyboards on top of it and create our own mock piano right in front of the real one. We were ridiculous rocking out on the keyboards and guitars the whole show, and one of us even had an inflatable microphone to sing into. The show wouldn't have been nearly as good without the amazing girls I was with.

Of course Hanson was awesome too. They managed to play both songs that have been at the top of my "must hear live" list for the past three years: Dancing in the Wind and In the City. It was also really neat getting to hear the Ghostbusters theme song, and I had never heard Hand in Hand either, so overall the setlist was pretty killer. We were slightly disappointed that they didn't play Evening at the Big Top, but I decided that they probably didn't even remember that it existed, and I'd rather hear Ghostbusters anyway. Their costumes were cute and clever with Zac as the 3 musketeers candy bar, and the expected sword jokes just kept coming.

It was a blast, we took awesome pictures, we rocked out on inflatable instruments, we ate great mexican food and pizza, and we left the crown plaza (and the back seat of my car) with about a pound of glitter.

August 4, 2010

Raleigh 7/31/10

We arrived around 12:45 PM and I was #44 in line. Since we went all out for Asheville, we decided to take it easy in Raleigh and aim for a good spot in the balcony. I helped with the walk table again, and though the walk looked smaller to begin with, I think we ended up with more cards filled out than in Asheville. I also noticed a good bit of children on the walk, and it was so cute getting to stamp the hands of a pair of brothers who must have been around 4 and 5. I said "Hey, you guys are going to get some stamps. Would you like that?" They nodded shyly, but then shouted "Look, mom!" and showed them off as soon as I was done. So cute! I even stamped the hand of an infant asleep in her mother's arms.

Instead of the blistering heat from the day before, this walk had clouds and a little rain. It still seemed to be shorter than any I remember going on, but I forgot to check my watch this time.

Isaac was one of the first ones back from the walk, (I recall someone shouting "Isaac won!") and he came up to me and complimented me on my dance moves. I joked with him about how those dance moves were pretty nonexistant and told him I was slightly mortified, but he was really nice about it and I thanked him for having me up there anyway.

The line was dramatic again, but I tried not to worry about it since we were headed for the balcony anyway. It was a little nerve wracking because once again, they didn't open the box office or will call tickets until the same time doors opened. One friend had a will call ticket, and one had to purchase one.

Let me say that the Lincoln failed as a venue in my eyes. We were told different things by different people all day long regarding camera policies, the number system, and even box office times. When we got inside and my friend tried to buy a ticket (after waiting in line for ~6 hrs and being told the box office would open with doors), she was told "I'm sorry, but I'm not sure we have any left to sell." Really? How can they not be sure if they have tickets? I got pretty angry though my friend seemed pretty composed. I think I mentioned to the employee that it was completely unacceptable that we had been waiting in line for 6 hrs and had specifically asked about tickets, and no one told us it was sold out. Another employee tried to get her to just sell us the ticket and let us in (since we were clearly mad), but the first employee was adamant that they get permission first. She said something along the lines of "But we've oversold already!" Yikes! In the end, we all went inside without the one friend and saved her a spot. She was able to buy one from someone outside and get in just fine, but I'm beyond disappointed that the Lincoln would open the box office without knowing whether or not they had tickets. Completely incompetent!

We ended up with good spots at the front of the balcony as planned, and the show was great. It was indeed packed, and I'm glad I was upstairs rather than in the crowd. I was so tired at this point that I actually fell asleep sitting on my stool leaning against the railing between Rooney and Hanson's sets. Pitiful, right?

The setlist was great and the energy was great, but I think my tiredness and the epicness from the night before made it seem less amazing than it really was. They played a new cover for the first time called "Roll With It," and once again invited girl on stage to dance--this time with Robert from Rooney.

One song that got me excited that I had no idea would have such an effect on me was "Hey." I guess I got so used to hearing it in 2007/2008 that it turned into a staple, and I didn't realize when it was gone. I definitely noticed its presence, though, and it really stood out to me for some reason. We also got "A Minute Without You," "If Only," and "Lost Without Each Other," the three songs that I could hear over and over and over and be happy. LWEO was made to be an encore song and it always ends a show on the perfect note for me.

Afterwards, we went out to the busses because I wanted to get a picture with Taylor since it was my last show. Somehow, it just seemed right that I get a picture and a chance to talk to him after the whole crazy dancing thing.

It rained and we got split up and I seriously considered giving up and going to the car--especially since my umbrella was inside it. Unfortunately, I realized I gave my keys to friends who had to walk several blocks, so my options were pretty limited after that.

Isaac came out first, and a few friends and I got a group picture with him. He was pretty talkative and extremely nice to all of us. Points for Isaac!

It started raining a little harder and my keys were still MIA, so we all huddled under a tree to keep the rain off a little. I also met a really nice fan who hadn't been to a show in years that shared her umbrella with me. I don't rememer her name or have any way to contact her, but whoever you are, thanks!

Taylor finally came out and announced that Zac wasn't feeling well, but he took the time to sign autographs and take pictures. My friends and I got a group picture and I got an individual picture as well since I didn't have any. We talked a little about the whole dance idea and I asked if it was something he was going to start doing regularly. He grinned and was cryptic and said you could never really tell.

We finally left after he moved on, and as exhausted as we were, we went in search of a hotel. We turned down two due to the price, but finally found one that was pretty cheap. Strangely enough, as we checked in (around 2:30 AM), a few guys standing on the balcony asked us what brought us here. We told them Hanson, and one of the guys told us he was good friends with one of Hanson's good friends (Shannon Curfman), and he said he had been offered the opportunity to play bass for Hanson 9 yrs ago but had declined. He joked about how if he had taken them up on the offer, he wouldn't be staying in a motel like that now. No kidding! Small world, though.

Inside the room was grosser than the streets I've slept on for Hanson, I'm not even kidding. There were scuff marks on the walls, it smelled bad, and the comforter on the bed felt a little damp to touch. We quickly decided we'd be sleeping on top of the beds in our sleeping bags, and joked that we'd rather be back at The Orange Peel.

As tired as I was, I was even dirtier, so I opted to take a quick shower. I took off all my clothes, jumped in, pulled the curtain shut, and promptly screamed and jumped back out. The largest roach I have ever seen in my entire life--and I live in Charleston--was staring down at me from the top of the curtain. I swear it was about half the size of my open hand, and I'm not exaggerating at all.

We packed up all our things and packed them back up, and when I "demanded" a refund, the clerk didn't so much as ask any further questions. She obviously knew how gross it was.

We ended up at a Wyndham for a higher price, but that's probably the best sleep I've ever had in my life and the beds were great. I'll definitely keep that chain in mind for future Hanson trips. :)

August 1, 2010

Asheville 7/30/2010 (a.k.a. I danced with Taylor Hanson and all I got was this stomach ulcer)

Before the Show

I was extremely excited when I found out Hanson was playing at the Orange Peel again. The concert there in 2008 was hands-down the best Hanson show I've ever been to, so a few friends and I decided to go all out for this show and get there early enough to be up front.

The camping part was actually pretty fun. One of my all-time favorite camping moments has to be when I woke up to hear a pedestrian telling someone "Tell them they don't have to camp to see Jesus!" in a very serious voice. I considered getting up and telling her not to worry, that I was totally capable of seeing both Hanson and Jesus one day.

There was this neat little locally owned organic grocery store across the street and their ice cream freezer had broken down. It was horrible for them, but they started selling all of their ice cream for $1 regardless of size/price/brand before it was all melted. We picked up several and sat around sampling them. I have to say the chai vanilla was my favorite.

There was a pretty big turnout for the walk, but it was also the shortest walk I've ever witnessed. Not counting the beginning or ending speeches, the walkers were gone for a total of 20 minutes! I hear it was pretty blistering, so maybe that's why.

The line was intense closer to the show because there were a lot of M&Gers and the will call tickets weren't released until 30 min. before doors, meaning there were tons of people milling around the front of the line. Thankfully, everything turned out okay for us. My friends and I all ended up in the front row, and I was just a little to the left of the center. I didn't have high hopes for Delta Rae because I had listened to their demo while voting for the opener, and I just didn't like it. I'm SO glad they won, though, because they were pretty amazing. They had very strong voices that blended well together. I've loved Rooney for years, so I was excited to see them too. They rocked, but it felt so short. I guess I got used to a long wait for Hanson during the Use Your Sole Tour.

It was so hot waiting for Hanson to come on. The staff kept spraying the crowd with water bottles to cool us down, and it was much appreciated. I didn't even care that I got sprayed directly in the face at one point. The show itself was amazing and has definitely replaced the last Asheville show as my favorite show of all time.

The setlist was awesome. We got to hear Dancing in the Street for the first time, and I was really excited to finally hear Man from Milwaukee. The crowd was pretty energetic and the guys seemed really on as well.

Give a Little

At the beginning of Give a Little, Taylor walked off the stairs on the side of the stage and came back with a guy dressed as one of the Blues Brothers. The guy proceeded to dance to the whole song. It was so fun and unexpected; a nice surprise to throw in that none of us saw coming. After the verses ended, the guys kept playing in the background while Taylor talked. He said something to the effect of guys needing a little encouragement, and he moved around and mimicked how one should dance for the right effect. Then he pointed at me and motioned for me to join him on stage, and at that point, I knew it was going to be my favorite show forever. This could never be topped for me, and I'm okay with that.

For some strange reason, it didn't occur to me to turn him down. When Taylor Hanson is asking you to get on stage with him, you don't stop to weigh the pros and cons (or at least my adrenaline rush prohibited me from doing just that). I used my arms to boost myself up on the barricade (which came up to just a few inches below my shoulders--I'm 5'2" as is evident in the giant gap between our heights), and with a combination of my arms, my friends around me shoving me upwards, a security guard spotting me, and Taylor pulling me from the stage, I managed to get up there without falling and breaking anything.

It was completely unplanned (on my end, at least), and I had no clue what he was wanting me to do. I assumed he was about to teach the crowd a dance or something and use me to help lead. I thought that was doable since I did live through the TBS video shoot. Once on stage, I couldn't hear a word he was saying into the microphone. I can't tell you how nerve wracking it was to be standing up there, watching Taylor talk and point at me, and having no clue what he was saying. I got really worried that he was somehow explaining what I was supposed to be doing and was completely unaware that I couldn't hear him. I got even more nervous as I heard the crowd respond to whatever he was saying. They would intermittently erupt with cheers and screams in response to something he said, which was both exciting and worrisome. I knew SOMETHING exciting was happening, but had no clue what, and it suddenly seemed like I was the only one in almost a thousand people left clueless. I was shocked when he came over and started dancing with me. It was just so sudden--no explanation, no time to react--and there was no easing into it.
If you've seen the videos, you'll know I can't dance. My apologies for any awkward second-hand embarrassment. Had I known what was going to happen or had enough common sense to outweigh the adrenaline rush of the invitation, I might have just declined. It was the first time they pulled a fan on stage for "Give a Little," so I just had no idea what was going on; there was no precedent set for what I was doing. But as awkward as it was, I'm glad it happened.

Speaking of awkward, have I mentioned what a bad dancer I am? I'm talking sat-glued-to-a-chair-to-avoiding-dancing-at-prom bad. Or maybe it's not that I'm so terrible, but more of a mixture of moderate terribleness and severe lack of self confidence in that department. I'm going to blame part of the awkwardness from this particular occasion though on the whole taboo of getting into a Hanson's personal bubble (that and, you know, being in front of 900 or so people). Why else would people get so excited over having him shake their hands, or put a hand on their shoulder in a picture? He's off-limits. Even with him clearly trying to dance with me, it felt wrong or dangerous to get too close, like I might be misinterpreting his actions and do something wrong. I remember pulling back at one point when he spun me and tried to pull me into him again because my brain was still shouting at me that I was getting in his personal bubble.

So Taylor tried his best to lead me, and I tried my best to follow. I'm not sure if anyone could tell, but I forgot to change shoes before the show and was wearing Rainbow flip flops. How I managed to step on the slick barricade and not fall on my head is something I can't explain. Seriously--one wrong step would have been the difference between becoming "that girl that Taylor pulled on stage" and being dubbed "that girl that pulled Taylor off the stage." Let's not even think about how badly that could have gone. Anyway, I actually lost one of my shoes while we were dancing and had a fleeting thought about how this was taking the whole barefoot thing a little too far. I debated trying to retrieve it, but thankfully realized how awkward it would be to stop dancing to get my shoe.

I was more comfortable with "Elwood" because he wasn't trying to do anything too complicated, thankfully (maybe wisely learning from my ineptness with Taylor?). There was an awkward moment where I tried to twist down (during the "oh oh oh" part), only I didn't realize we were so close that his knee was directly underneath me. So instead of doing a cute twist, I created a pretty awkward PG-13 grinding motion down onto him by accident. Oops! When it was over, there was lots of hugging and general happiness on stage. I was directed to the stairs to leave because it would have been too difficult to get back in my spot over the barricade. On my way, I was congratulated and high fived by a few women standing off to the side near the stage, and no one gave me a hard time about getting back in my spot up front.

The whole "what the heck did I just do?" mentality didn't set in until way later, and I went through the rest of the show kind of dazed. I'm generally a calm person, so I can honestly say there was no crying or screaming on my part (thankfully, right? Just how awkward would it have been if he pulled a screamer up there?). Instead, I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I still can't. About halfway through Dancing in the Street I realized I had been replaying the whole thing in my head and not enjoying the awesome new cover, so I snapped back into it a little and was able to enjoy the show in front of me again.

I've also got to say that as shy and nervous as I usually am (I used to literally shake when I had to give a presentation in front of a class of 20), I wasn't nearly as nervous as I should have been up there in front of so many people. I think knowing that the crowd was just as shocked as I was made it a little easier. I also knew most of the people in the front row, so when I looked out into the crowd, really all I was seeing was my friends being excited for me (side note: the handful of goofy faces I made were in response to people in the front row giving me that "can you believe this is really happening right now?" face. I should have saved my "no, I really can't" faces for later, but what's done is done).

The day ended with my friends and I sitting in a parking lot taking pictures with each other, and a horrible moment where I borrowed one of their SD cards to upload to my laptop and in a rush of excitement, stuck it in my disc drive. With some tweezers and a hairclip, we were able to retrieve it. It's kind of a miracle that I was able to operate a car after that, but none of us lasted too long and we had to stop to sleep after hitting up a Waffle House.

July 26, 2010

Random Ramblings/ Tour Talk

I’m a writer. Not by profession, but by nature. When something touches me in some way, my inclination is to write about it. I’ve written about Hanson and the way their music affects me a few times, but I’ve never tackled the subject of their tours specifically. It’s worth its own write up, because there is something inherently different in hearing a song you love through the medium of stereo speakers or headphones and in hearing it live with no buffer between their lungs and your ears.

But I would be lying if I led you to believe it’s about sound quality. It’s not. Sometimes the sound levels are so skewed and off-balance that I only know what they’re singing because I know each song by heart. Sometimes there’s one speaker in my face and another in my ear, and it’s all so loud that it starts to make my head pound. Sometimes someone forgets the lyrics and messes up an entire verse from my favorite song, or a guitar string breaks, or a mic loses signal. And more often than not, there are people screaming and drowning out the sweet music I traveled so far to hear, but it’s all part of the experience.

So I’ve effectively described what it’s like to see a live show—any live show—but that’s only part of my goal. For me, it’s more than just a show. Literally, it’s usually more like five, depending on the circumstances. To see Hanson live is to go on a mini-tour with people that feel the same way I do. It’s a vacation from all of the stress of your job, or your family, or your school work. It’s an excuse to forego makeup and healthy food and a good night’s rest and several social norms (such as the stigma that lies with dancing in streets, walking barefoot in public, and sleeping on sidewalks). Above all, it’s an opportunity to just let go and be. Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first), but there’s something so liberating and transcendent about standing in a room full of people who feel the same way I do, people I’d never cross paths with otherwise, and just letting go.

For me, it’s an opportunity to be something I’m normally not: uninhibited. I’m an adult, a college graduate, a professional with responsibilities and bills and worries, just like the majority of the population. I wake up, I dress conservatively, I smile, nod, explain things, and maintain composure throughout the day. I return home, I eat a modest meal, I plan, and I go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. But when tour time rolls around, I’m something entirely different. I wake up in the middle of the night and drive six hours to meet up with fellow fans. I wear ponytails and t-shirts and flip flops, and I laugh so hard that I snort. I take part in the most ridiculous conversations I’ve ever heard in my life regarding llamas, beef jerky, and stinky feet. I eat burritos and gas station hot dogs. I sing at the top of my lungs. I’m happy.

When I first started writing this, I intended it to be some kind of praise for Hanson’s music, but I realize it’s more than that. In fact, half of the things I love about tour so much aren’t even directly related to Hanson at all. It’s crazy how much can be built around a piece of music, but here I am, 20 shows, thousands of miles, and hundreds of hours later, completely taken away by these guys and what they unknowingly do for me. They give me an outlet to be something I’m not brave enough to be most of the time—my own, quirky, self. And that’s something worth chasing for the rest of my life.

June 9, 2010

Shout it Out Release 6/8/10

Today was a day kind of like Christmas, only we're not lucky enough for it to be an annual occurrence. Hanson's fifth studio album, "Shout it Out," was released in the U.S. I feel like I'm cheating on a long-time relationship with "Underneath" by saying this about an album I've just "met," but I think I've got a new favorite. :)

My exposure to this album was very different from any other because I heard most of these songs in live settings the very first time I heard them. In the past, I've heard clips of songs, seen parts in podcasts, at least seen a tracklisting--but last May, I didn't as much as know a single title or note from the new album. The whole experience of hearing so many songs for the first time without any tainting from others' opinions was amazing. I don't think I can ever love any song as much as I loved the song "Use Me Up" in that moment. After hearing it live several times on tour and finally playing it directly from my own CD, I still can't love it as much as I did that first time. The word "Epic" is overused these days, but I mean it when I say that moment was epic for me.

Of the album, I heard ten out of twelve songs in live settings for the first time ever:

Waiting for This (Tulsa)
Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin’ (video shoot)
Kiss Me When You Come Home (Tulsa)
Carry You There (Tulsa)
Give a Little (Bamboozle)
Make it Out Alive (Tulsa)
And I Waited (Bamboozle)
Use Me Up (Tulsa)
These Walls (Tulsa)
Musical Ride (Tulsa)

Part of me thinks the release was a little less exciting knowing that I was only truly getting two new songs. But in a way, it was also more exciting after building up anticipation for songs I already knew I would love. After spending a good portion of my day blasting Shout it Out, here’s what I have concluded:

1) Taylor wasn’t lying when he admitted to being a fan of vague. The guys always seem to leave room for interpretation for most of their songs. It’s one of the qualities that makes them good songwriters, but the English major in me is always analyzing and looking for deeper meanings. Waiting for This has me clapping and singing while wondering exactly what it is that we’re supposedly waiting for. Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin’ begs to be danced to, but I couldn’t stop myself from submitting a question asking about what that “something” might be during one of the live streams (Thinking back, hopefully I worded it better than “Hey Zac! What is it that you’re thinking about?”—vague questions aren’t nearly as useful or appreciated as vague lyrics). During the same stream, we all explored a different side of vague as the guys joked about the vague nature of “Give a Little” and what exactly is being gifted, and what that catchy little “oh oh oh” is referring to.

2) I can dance. True, the album hasn’t given me any sudden skill in dancing, but it’s definitely given me some dance-worthy songs to help me come out of my shell. The Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin’ video shoot really helped me gain confidence in just letting loose, and now that I’ve got that, I think I’ll use it to jam out to Give a Little as often as possible. It’s really impossible to listen to either of these songs and not bust a move—or at least a body part while trying.

3) Isaac is 1/3 of Hanson. Maybe that’s why it felt like 1/3 of the songs were missing. The album is a little shorter than their usual, and the obvious lack of Isaac leads is a little disappointing. I love the songs that are on the album, but after picking out 5 at random to share with my mom, then realizing they were ALL Taylor leads, I started to miss Isaac even more.

4) Taylor and his piano were meant to be together. I’m a sucker for lots of piano, and this album definitely has it. The piano solo in Kiss Me When You Come Home keeps leaving me ready to clap in my car, forgetting where I am. Give a Little has a great hint of piano playing in the background, but I wish it was louder. Hopefully it will really stand out live. Me Myself and I is also a beautiful piano—driven song, and I can’t wait to learn it. And on that note, I also love the simple piano in Use Me Up. Zac’s more in my league as far as piano skill goes.

5) They need to hire me as a copy editor. ASAP. Someone went rampant with the commas. Most of the lyrics in the booklet read as though someone inserted a comma every time they heard a pause in the song. I know that's how it generally works in spoken English, but songs are a little different. For example, no comma is necessary in the line "You don't need, a Cadillac, 'cause I'll be waiting..." even though there's an audible pause at that point in the song. The formatting of the 2nd track is also a point of interest for a grammar nazi like me. In all of its publicity for the single and video release, it was written as "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'." Now, it's written as "Thinkin' 'Bout Somethin'" on the tracklisting on the back. And while the "G" is magically present inside the booklet, "somethin'" suddenly grows its "G" back every time it's used within the lyrics.

6) There are some notable similarities to past Hanson songs. I don't mean this as a bad thing, just simply something I couldn't help noticing. "And I Waited" immediately brought "Leave the Light On" to mind. They have very similar intros and guitar parts. The piano progression in "Kiss Me When You Come Home" is very reminiscent of "Been There Before." I thought this immediately even the first time I heard it at the SUSU recording in Tulsa. It's a little more subtle, but I also hear a guitar riff in "Musical Ride" that sounds VERY similar to a more obvious in "Thinkin(g/') 'Bout Something." Lastly, the beginning of "Me Myself and I" sounds very much like a Billy Joel song to me for some reason. I wouldn't say the whole song does, but something about the beginning definitely sounds similar.

May 23, 2010

Charlotte Bamboozle 5/22/10

*Edit- Just realized this was my 20th show! I guess this is some kind of milestone?

This was the most last-minute decision I've ever made in going to see Hanson. I ironically posted a facebook status along the lines of "Hanson is going to be a 3 hr drive away, and for the first time, I'm staying home." Really, I didn't want to shell out close to $50 for a 30 min. set, so I decided to sit it out. The day before the show, I saw on twitter that LiveNation was going to give away a pair of tickets to Bamboozle to one person who retweeted a message. On a whim, I RTed it once, and won! I made the drive and met up with two friends before the show.

The tickets I won were lawn seats, but the seating was all way below the lawn, so we had a perfect view. We arrived around 5 pm and decided to sit in the grass near the Hanson merch tent. My friend noticed that Zac was sitting on the bricks in front of us, but we decided to leave him alone. We saw several groups of girls recognize him and ask for pictures, and he was very polite and took pictures with every person that asked. We also saw security tell him to get off of the bricks; it's good to know that the Zac Hanson card doesn't work for everything, or at the very least he didn't pull it in this situation. He looked like he was trying to go somewhere, but every few feet, more people would stop him. It probably took him about 30 min. to make his way to where he was going, but he was so polite taking pictures with everyone that stopped him.

We arrived in time to see Cartel, and I enjoyed their set. I also really enjoyed Good Charlotte, who played a surprising number of songs that I recognized. They played a song from their new album that hasn't been released yet, something about a drunk girl; I don't remember the title, but I liked it. They also made an obvious point to leave out Hanson when they were getting all the fans to shout it out for the other bands. They mentioned every other band, and we could tell that some girl up front was definitely letting them know. Several songs later, Benji said "Hey Joel, we forgot Hanson!" It was obvious it was intentional, and it was kind of cute the way they did it.

Hanson played after Good Charlotte, and I think they chose a great setlist for their limited time. It was only about 30 min. and 7 songs (Waiting for This, And I Waited, A Minute Without You, Give a Little, Penny and Me, Thinkging 'Bout Somethin', and Lost Without Each Other are the ones I can remember). I have pretty much vowed not to let myself listen to the new music until the release date, so it was kind of neat getting to hear And I Waited and Give a Little in a live setting for the first time I heard them. I REALLY liked Give a Little, but I don't feel like I could hear And I Waited well enough to judge it yet. All in all it was good, and we stayed seated in the grass. I'd be willing to bet this will be the only time I ever sit down for an entire Hanson show, but it was a nice change from the usual chaos. My only complaint is I think they should make more of an attempt to connect with the audience. All of the other bands made more of an effort to talk to the audience and make little jokes. I guess Hanson chose to let the music speak for itself, but I feel like they would gain more fans if they would talk a little more.

After the set, a huge line formed and Hanson consented to sign autographs for their merchandise only, and no posed pictures were allowed. While the rules were strict, I've got to give them props for staying to sign for every last person in that long line. All Time Low came onstage as the autographs started, and they drew attention to us asking "WHO is back there signing autographs while we're up here!" and mentioned how long the line was. It seemed pretty lighthearted, though. They even said "I haven't met Hanson yet, but I love them already."

I didn't buy anything or get an autograph, but I waited in line with my friends and was going to take a picture for one that got an autograph. I did get the picture, but I also walked straight into a block of concrete and scraped my foot, just as my friend was walking away from Zac, giving him an unobstructed view of my clumsiness. Oh well, I was bound to make a fool out of myself in front of one of them sooner or later. My record of three years was just too long.

All Time Low was so-so. They talked a lot and did a pretty good job of pumping up the crowd, but they had too man curse words in their songs for my taste. Boys Like Girls was last, and by that time I had a bad headache, so I was kind of over it. They also got fans to cheer for each band, but they completely left Hanson out on purpose and didn't mention them again. It seemed like an intentional snub, not something playful. We left early so we didn't have to fight the crowd to get out though, so I don't know how the second half of their set was.

My trip home was horrible. My headache only got worse, and about 30 min. into the 3.5 hr drive, I started feeling really sick. I decided I must have gotten food poisoning from the McDonalds I ate earlier in the day. Ironically, some guy at the entrance to the show had us sign a petition against the chicken McDonalds uses and gave us some anti-McDonalds info, so it was a pretty good combination to make me want to quit McDonalds for a while.

March 8, 2010

Thinking 'Bout Somethin' video shoot 3/6/10

When Hanson announced that we were invited to watch them shoot the video for their first single from their upcoming album, I was excited. When I found out that first single is going to be "Thinking 'Bout Somethin," I got a little irrational and decided that maybe I could make the trip. So with about 2 weeks' notice, I made the best irresponsible decision I've ever made and bought a plane ticket to Tulsa (p.s. Priceline's Name Your Own Price is my new hero).

The experience was unforgettable and probably ranks as one of the most exciting things I've ever taken part in. I tried not to get my hopes up too much in case there wasn't enough time to get a shot with the fans in it as extras. I thought that maybe they would throw us in the back and tell us to move around like we were having fun, but we wouldn't really be a big part of the video. I couldn't have been more wrong.

We arrived around 7:30 AM, and at that point there might have been about 20 fans there. We watched as the hired dancers practiced a few runs through their dance.

Shortly after, they had those of us that were present (maybe 30ish?) get in a shot behind the hired dancers. They instructed the people in the front to do the twist, and the ones in the back to have their hands up. We just did that while the other dancers did their choreographed moves. We did a couple of takes, but no more than maybe 30 minutes and that part was done. At first I thought that was the only fan shot, and we would spend the rest of the day watching Hanson film. It didn't happen that way at all.

After more people arrived...and arrived...and arrived (a news article estimated around 500 fans), they asked EVERYONE to go out into the street and spread out. We started out just dancing on our own behind the official dancers (I stuck to the twist--seemed safe enough). Then they told us we were going to learn the "Hanson slide." It was so fast and we were all so confused in the beginning. I was worried that I was never going to learn it, but we did it so many times that we all ended up feeling like pros. At some point early on, Zac ran into the crowd and blended in somewhere in the middle/back and did the dance with us--while eating an apple. I don't know.

I have no idea how many times we must have done it, but it had to have been like 30 at least. We worked for 3-4 hours just doing the same dance sequence over and over and over. I'm sad to admit that I didn't even realize Hanson was dancing with us until it was all over. I was probably 1/3 of the way back in the crowd, but I'm so short and generally unobservant that I just didn't know. I assumed they were off to the side watching somewhere, but honestly we were all working so hard that there wasn't time to think about where Hanson was.

Around 1:30 we finished shooting the big crowd scene, and the guys thanked us for coming out and sang us the chorus acapella.

We were a little confused as to whether they were dismissing us or sending us off on some kind of lunch break. My friends and I were unsure and didn't want to be in the way, so we took part in some general awesomeness with ourselves instead.

We did come back at the very end when we got word that fans were watching, but we walked up RIGHT as they finished. Fortunately, we did get to take a few pictures of the second shooting location where there was a big mural and a few props set up.

Update: The final product is out! I'm very happy with the end result.
(P.S. If the whole thing seems random to you, go pick up a copy of the Blues Brothers. It's an homage to a scene from the movie with Ray Charles. See Tay's Music Exchange? See what they did there? Brilliant.)

If you were skilled at Where's Waldo as a kid, you might spot me at 1:51 on the far left looking all awkward and twisting. I'm elsewhere at 2:52, but don't waste your time on that one. Oh, and check 0:56 for proof that you CAN rock out on a tambourine, but only if you're Weird Al.