December 14, 2019

Wintry Mix Tour Part One: Denver & Omaha

When I travel to Hanson shows, I’m usually guilty of not making the most of my time. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve been where I barely saw more than a sidewalk or the inside of a venue. I’ve driven over the Hoover Dam in the dark but never actually saw it. One time I went to New York City and mostly just visited a Chipotle and a Subway (well, THE subway, too, but I actually do mean the sandwich chain). Bottom line: the list of places I’ve been is far more impressive than the amount of sightseeing I’ve done in most of those places. 2019 has been an epic travel year that helped to change some of that for me, and somewhere along the way while hiking waterfalls and playing the piano backstage at the Sydney Opera House, I had to ask myself what in the world I’ve been doing with my life up until now. How could I possibly go to all of these amazing cities and not take advantage of the things they have to offer? I told myself that I’ve been doing it all wrong and that I need to make more of a point to set aside time to do more touristy things when I travel.

And then came the Wintry Mix Tour. The fun thing about Hanson never coming anywhere near you is if you’re going to have to travel to get to a show anyway, it kind of doesn’t matter which one(s) you pick. So instead of driving myself ~7 hours to my closest show in Atlanta, I opted to fly to Denver where I met up with a few friends and road tripped from Denver to Omaha to Austin and then ended in Dallas. Over the course of five days, I hit four new states and six states total. It all sounds very Do/Go/Be on paper, but in reality, once again I found myself sightseeing a blur of dark highways, sidewalks, and hotel beds. No matter how much I wanted to carry on the wanderlust streak of 2019, it was absolutely nothing like my grand adventures in Australia and Hawaii and Lake Tahoe earlier this year. Somehow it still felt right.

Just before doors opened for my first show in Denver, it began to rain. The temperature continued to drop and within minutes, the rain turned into a slushy mix before fully committing to snow. I was freezing, but I can’t imagine a more perfectly ironic way to usher in the Wintry Mix Tour.

The show opened with “Finally It’s Christmas” and then jumped right into an upbeat new song called “Don’t Ever Change” followed by “Rock ’n’ Roll Razorblade” and “Lost Without Each Other.” Four songs in, I was already feeling a little winded and asking my friend “What kind of Benjamin Button setlist is this?!” since they usually wait until the end to tire us out with those songs. The only time the show slowed down at all was for a brief acoustic set in the middle with three new songs—“Annalie” (Zac lead), “Better Man” (Zac solo), and “Serious Woman” (Taylor solo). I would have loved an Isaac solo to go with the rest, but at least he got to slay (sleigh?) "Run Rudolph Run" at the end of each show.

“Annalie” is destined to go down in Hanson history as a classic earworm of a Hanson song. It is ridiculously catchy and got stuck in my head for the rest of the trip after only hearing it once. It sounds a little Simon & Garfunkel and has this super happy upbeat sound that I can’t get enough of (like "Cut Right Through Me," but better). I’m forcing myself to wait to listen to it again until the album drops so I don’t overdose on bad quality live recordings right now, because I totally will if I let myself. “Better Man” is one I need to see the lyrics before I come to any solid conclusions, but boy can Zac sing. “Serious Woman” is another I couldn’t grasp many of the lyrics in person, but the piano reminded me a lot of Andrew McMahon in his SoCo days, and Hanson can bring that on in droves as far as I’m concerned. I'm definitely excited for the release of Against the World.

The biggest setlist change between Denver and Omaha was one that might have left a few others disappointed that Taylor switched out a new song for an old school throwback, but the minute he sat at the piano and started talking about Underneath Acoustic Live, I got the biggest involuntary grin on my face. The UAL version of "Crazy Beautiful" is one of two songs that drew me back in as a fan, and I wanted to hear the solo version live for years before it finally happened. I smiled the whole way through and felt like an idiot for being so much happier to hear this old song in the place of something new, but what can I say? It's a great song, I'm forever in love with the piano, and I love that even after twelve years of shows my heart can still speed up at the sound of a great piece of music. The only thing that would've made me happier was if he did the faster part at the end, but that just gives me something else to hope for in the future.

The Omaha show also got a soundcheck party for fan club members. I have to say it didn't actually resemble a real soundcheck considering they didn't practice any of the songs they played at the show, but it was better for that reason, and I think it would have been dull if it was just a normal soundcheck of songs we'd get to hear again later. The best part was getting to hear "White Collar Crimes" simply because if Zac is up to the challenge of playing the drums on that song, then I feel reassured that he has healed well since his accident. The worst part was getting back in line afterwards, being first behind everyone with a number, and then being told by a fan that "We're going to continue with numbers but aren't sure where we left off, so we're going to restart you at #100 and work backwards." That earned a solid "nope" on my end, and I was so confused by this logic and why we were even starting numbers up again an hour before doors. I think my confusion was mistaken for some sort of newbie cluelessness, but really though, I've been to lots of shows and worn plenty of numbers between 1 and 100 and don't need someone to fansplain it to me (totally trademarking "fansplain," btw). I've just never been to a show where the number system includes estimates and rounding up, and I'd like to keep it that way. 😂(We compromised and everyone walked away happy in the end.)

As for the rest of the trip outside of the shows? I don't have any fun rollercoaster or waterfall stories this time. First off, it was freezing. I kind of forgot to eat on day one and got a terrible migraine because it turns out you can't rock out in full force with only half a Voodoo Donut in your stomach (I truly forgot everything EXCEPT for the donuts.). On a positive note, I learned that placing toe warmers on TOP of your foot is far superior to sticking them to the bottom. I also learned that in the event that you forget to eat more than half a donut on day one, eating half of a large pizza by yourself on day two is not a suitable solution, especially when day three includes 17 hours in a car. We argued a little about whether or not we'd have time to make a detour into Iowa, but it turns out the argument was taking place IN Iowa, so that one resolved itself. We met Taylor after Omaha when it was 20 degrees out, and his face looks exactly the way my entire body felt for the first three days. And finally, if you're going to drop your only pair of sweatpants in a mud puddle, definitely do it at a truck stop at 3am so that you can freak people out when you run into the bathroom holding mysteriously brown-stained pants at arms length while you make your way to the sink. I only wish the sleeping bag story coming up in part two was nearly as misleading and funny.

No comments: