October 26, 2018

String Theory: Atlanta & Nashville

This post picks up right where the last one left off, at 4am coming home from Phoenix. The abridged version is this: I am an idiot who planned a cross country trip to see two shows, then three days back home, and then a six hour drive to the next two shows with a four hour drive in between and then a nine hour drive home again. The problem is I (perhaps willfully) forgot those three days "off" from traveling were actually full overnight shifts for me at work. The day before I left for Atlanta, I worked 11 hours overnight, took a three hour nap, packed, and somehow slept again that same night and got up at 6am to leave. These shows did an excellent job of reminding me that while I am physically not the same stupid college student that once drove nine hours home overnight from Birmingham, AL to run straight into my 9am English class, sometimes I make the mistake of acting like it. It's a miracle I made it to Atlanta and back home on my own, and I sure hope I remember this feeling next time I look at flight prices and think "Nah, it's just a six hour drive."

Both of these shows were packed. Nashville was definitely sold out, and Atlanta must have been really close. For the Atlanta show I was in the last seat on Zac's side a few rows from the stage. The drums seemed a little overpowering from there at times, and I noticed during the second half of the show I had trouble hearing Zac and Taylor's vocals on a few songs, but I think that was more of a technical issue than my seat location. This particular venue had a light pattern projected on the back wall behind the orchestra that changed with each song, and I had to appreciate the fitting starry backdrop during "Reaching for the Sky."

Despite having rehearsed and performed this show plenty of times by now, this one brought out the kind of technical difficulty no amount of practice can fix. It wasn't bad or even all that noticeable if you hadn't already seen the show, but Taylor's acoustic guitar didn't work during "No Rest For The Weary."  You can't exactly stop an entire symphony for one instrument, so he kept playing silently. Isaac tried to give Taylor his guitar at first, but there wasn't time to switch mid-song. They handled it like true professionals, Taylor strumming his heart out on an oddly silent guitar on the off chance that it would work, and Isaac picking up the chords on his electric guitar to fill the void. They played the whole song that way, and it was a weirdly good performance to see them soldier on and another beautiful show overall. And as for instructions on how to act at these shows? Fear not, the Atlanta Symphony souvenir shop has us covered:

(I only wish there were a few to distribute later when people screamed bloody murder and literally chased Taylor and Zac from the stage door to the bus. This is why we can't have nice things.)

I was really excited for Nashville because it looked like a cool venue with lofty ceilings, chandeliers, and some unique tiers of box seating all around the room. We opted to sit side-stage similar to where I sat in Denver, but behind Taylor's piano instead of behind the drums. It was fun to hear some bells (and a giant xylophone?) that my ears hadn't picked out at any of the earlier shows. The crowd was pretty respectful, though come to think of it, so was Atlanta pre-bus. Way to uphold the stereotype, southerners! There was a funny moment during "Chasing Down My Dreams" when Zac started early. He sang the opening line "Now that I've started" before anyone else actually started. If you're going to screw up a line, it might as well be that one. We all had a good laugh at the irony and he sang it again, this time with the rest of the orchestra. I had a ton of fun at this one and was so ready to stand up and clap during "I Was Born" when the invitation finally came. As much as I'm loving String Theory, I know I'm going to be so excited to see a "normal" Hanson show again the next time I have that opportunity.

I've really enjoyed seeing this show from so many different angles, and by this point I have seen it just about everywhere from front row to the balcony to the side of the stage and behind the orchestra. They've all offered something a little different and I've enjoyed each one for different reasons. If you only get to do it once, I do think going for center in the middle of the crowd or balcony is the best sound and view, even if you love front row every other time. Of course if you have front row for your only show, you also aren't going home disappointed. In any case, see it if you can, and try a few different views if you get the chance. You know the drill. Get out there and Do, Go, and Be(have). If you're not sure why, just ask the Atlanta Symphony. 😉

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