October 28, 2015

Roots & Rock 'n' Roll Tour: New Orleans

New Orleans was my non-negotiable stop on this tour. It's been a complicated year for me, so when I bought all of my tickets I didn't have a clue which cities I would actually be able to make it to and which ones I might have to sell. New Orleans is the one city in the United States I've always wanted to visit but hadn't had the opportunity yet, so when Zac's 30th birthday fell on those dates, I knew I had to make at least this one work. It ended up being the one stop on the tour where most of my friends went, so we met up from various places and played the role of tourists for a change (can I coin the term TOURist?). We celebrated Zac's 30th by splurging on good food.

There was Crawfish Étouffée

Fried Alligator

Bread Pudding

Beignets with Chocolate Milk

Chocolate Covered Apples

And Pralines I ate so fast I didn't stop to think about pictures.

In addition to the great food, we saw the Garden District, the French Quarter, a cemetery, a Dr. Seuss art gallery, a whole lot of Mardi Gras beads in trees, and apparently Nicholas Cage's old house. Oh yeah, and Hanson.

The show started with a crowd-sized rendition of Happy Birthday to Zac (during which he sang "Happy Birthday to me" with big pointed thumb gestures at himself. The guy will never actually be 30 inside), followed by the first time I have ever heard "Teach Your Children." They brought out a new Leon Russell cover called "Delta Lady" and gave us an Isaac-heavy set the second day with back to back performances of "Deeper" and "Hand in Hand" as well as closing out with "Watch Over Me." The first night closed exactly the way you would expect with a cheesecake in Zac's face and a smile on everyone else's.

Click HERE to check out a few more pictures from the shows.

October 27, 2015

Roots & Rock 'n' Roll Tour: Atlanta

The great thing about traveling for this band and being a part of this fan base for an extended period of time is that there comes a point where going to a show "alone" stops existing. You can plan alone, you can float between friend groups, but the feeling of "I don't know anybody here" just ceases to be a thing. Still, Atlanta was my first time in seven years planning a trip on my own without gluing myself to a specific group of friends the entire time. I carpooled with one group of friends, shared a hotel with another, spent time in line with yet another group, and then braved the shows surrounded completely by strangers.

The whole experience brought me back to what it felt like to be the new kid that doesn't know everybody. It's a little unsettling and awkward, but it also holds a lot of potential for new friendships if you let it. While I would have loved to share these shows with the girls I have grown so used to traveling with, I have to say it reminded me of what I miss out on when I do that every other time. I like to think that I'm open to meeting new people and making new fan friends, but the truth is having that core group of best friends can also be a little bit of a crutch. It's not one I use on purpose, but I think when you get a little too comfortable in the space you've carved out for yourself, you wind up letting other opportunities to make new friends suffer for it. So yes, I  missed my usual partners in crime in Atlanta. But I also really enjoyed getting to connect with some newer friends I might not have had the opportunity to spend time with otherwise. High fives to you girls for making my time in Atlanta a fun one. :-)

As for the shows, I was ecstatic about the whole cover song concept from day one. I may or may not have told Zac in Cancun that the Christmas/Cover song set was one of my all-time favorite Hanson shows ever (to which my friend immediately pointed out "You do realize you just told the guy your favorite Hanson show was one where he didn't play any of his own music, right?" Oops. Not what I meant). It didn't disappoint. "God Only Knows" was phenomenal. Zac and Taylor's voices blend together so well it's like the same person singing a duet with themselves sometimes. "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" was an unexpected highlight too, and it has been stuck in my head ever since ("Goodbye to Ro-o-sie, Queen of Corona...").

I've heard "Chain of Fools" before, but never cared much about it. Let Zac sing it though, and it's time to do a double take. Isaac looked really into it too even though he wasn't singing lead. Zac nailed "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" as I knew he would, though I'll never be able to sing along to "touching you, touching me" with a straight face.

There were two big stand-outs to me over the course of these two shows.

1. A Song For You. (video courtesy of Rachel H. from the Dallas show)

I had never heard this Leon Russell song prior to the livestream of Hanson's Chicago show a few weeks ago. I was hooked the moment I heard it on Yahoo, and hearing it in person was even better. People can argue about the quality of Taylor's voice and who should sing lead on what song, but I feel like this song showcased every good thing about it. Tell me Taylor's voice is gone, and I'll point at this song and carry on my happy fan way.

2. How much I actually appreciate Hanson songs.

That probably sounds ridiculous, but what I mean is that hearing the cover songs I was so excited about made me realize how much I really do appreciate Hanson's original songs. Every time they threw in a Hanson tune on covers night, I got this huge involuntary grin and couldn't wait to sing along. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess.

I try not to give mine too much down-time to find out, though. Can't wait for round two of my Roots & Rock 'n' Roll Tour experience in Los Angeles and San Francisco next week!