January 14, 2021

And The Winner Is...: Listener's Choice

Confession #1: I don't like setlist voting. This is probably old news if you know me personally or have kept up with this blog, but I feel like it's an admission that needs to happen before I can talk openly about a series of shows with a "Listener's Choice" theme.

Confession #2: The "Listener's Choice" setlists were my favorite of all four themes (if we can look past my wildly festive love for all things Christmas). I know, I know, this feels kind of incongruous with confession #1. In my defense, all of my favorite parts of these shows were the surprise songs HANSON threw in, not necessarily the songs fans voted on, so I still stick by my dislike of voting in general. However, if voting on half of the setlist is how we motivate Hanson into one-upping our votes with killer picks of their own, sign me up. Direct me to voter registration. Send me the campaign materials and the unsolicited texts and consider me a supporter of this party. 

The energy at these shows was high from the beginning I think partly because the setlists were amazing and partly because they were the last shows for the foreseeable future. The first night, people lost it at "Georgia." People lost it again at "Save Me." But the moment we collectively lost it and COULD. NOT. GET. IT. BACK?

"Kind of a Girl."

First off, as someone who hates setlist voting mostly due to ruining the element of surprise, consider me surprised. Delighted. Fired up. Dead, buried, and brought back to life because this random left-field performance was THAT GOOD. Everything about it was tight--the drums, Isaac's guitar solo, and Taylor seemed very much in his element throughout the song.

While I never had the pleasure of seeing it performed by the original band, I'd say Hanson's "cover" did it justice and I was thrilled to see it played at all three shows. I fully regret not taking the one opportunity I had to see Tinted Windows live, and it makes me sad to think that the talented group behind this song has suffered the loss of one of their own. I'm glad Taylor chose to play it, and I think it was a nice way to honor his bandmate and friend.

At the first two shows, "Kind of a Girl" was followed by "Voice in the Chorus." This one seems to be under the radar of most fans and feels all but forgotten by even the band, but I like it. Everything about this song screams SIO tour to me. Maybe my appreciation for it is biased and based more on memories than music, but "Voice in the Chorus" works for me the way a certain scent might bright you back to a specific place or moment. Hearing it live puts me right back into a crammed front row of some hole in the wall venue with Isaac headbanging and that one piece of otherwise perfectly styled hair that would fly free while the whole room is losing it because there is so much energy on stage. It's definitely one of those songs that thrived in a specific moment of time, and I think maybe that time is over unless Hanson chooses to revive it, but even then it wouldn't be the same. It's still nice to hear it once in a while and remember how fun it can be.

I thought that nothing could top "Kind of a Girl," but then the second show made a "Kind of a Girl" sandwich on "Troublemaker" and "Don't Stop Believing" bread with a side of "Stories" and then "Dream Girl" for dessert. You can stop reading right here and just imagine mindblown emojis for the rest of the post, if you want.

So let's talk about "Troublemaker." Back in 2011, Hanson did a proper recorded version of it for Billboard's Mashup Mondays. You can add Weezer to the list of bands I loved before I rediscovered Hanson, so I was excited for this cover and remember watching that video over and over. About a month later I got to see it performed live at the Boston HOB and I remember being ecstatic and thinking "YES! Now it's going to be a tour staple at the rest of the shows and I'll get to hear it more!" Naturally, they never played it again. Fast forward almost 10 years, and they finally broke it out of the vault only for the 2nd show of the Listener's Choice series. It was kind of great getting to hear Taylor sing the line "Having seven kids" now that it's true, and I'm not even sad that he didn't get all the lyrics right because he practically had a novel in 20pt font taped to the floor, and I sure didn't know all the ones I used to know either. It was still an epic surprise and one I really did not mind being front row for. I won't drag you down "Don't Stop Believing" memory lane too, but it's a great crowd song that lets Zac roam the stage, and it made an already great setlist combination even better.

The final show had a similar setlist to the first two with the added bonus of "Sunny Day" at the end, though I was a little too distracted to fully enjoy it watching security try to contain a very happy drunk girl to her increasingly distant table as well as some guy who wandered up to sip his beer and head nod front row Isaac. This definitely fell into the category of "not my table, not my problem," but it was just close enough that I couldn't entirely ignore it, either.  Predictably, my favorite part of the third show was "Thinking Bout Something" because luck dealt my friends and I three side by side tables in the center, and it felt like a giant line dance going on. Over the years it seems like less and less people participate in the dance, but after hearing TBS six times over the course of these streaming shows, it feels like it's making a little comeback. Feel free to join us next time! The best part is laughing when you trip over your own feet, or in some cases, your friend's.

One of my favorite parts of writing these reviews is often retelling the random outtakes that happen along the way, but there's really not much to tell when the only places I went were Cain's and my hotel room. The most exciting thing I did outside of the shows this time was spend more money on Cheesecake Factory delivery than the hotel, and that awkward moment I got literally stuck in an elevator because my backpack strap got caught on the handrail. One moment I was walking out behind my friends, and the next they turned around and I had disappeared to ride back down to the first floor while crying laughing. At least one of the three stayed behind to free me. You're the real MVP. 😂

It's hard to believe this series of livestreamed shows has come to an end, but here we are in January 2021 with one heck of a year behind us and still plenty of obstacles to get through before we can enjoy "real" concerts again. While I know there was a certain amount of risk involved in choosing to go to any of these shows, I am confident in my own safety precautions, and I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to be in the room with these songs, these musicians, and a few of my friends. Even in the months between when I was stuck at home, planning table decorations, having mild panic attacks about buying tickets, talking about the best (and occasionally worst) parts of the shows, and just generally having something to be excited about again lifted my spirits in a way I don't think anything else could have.

Thank you to Hanson, to Cain's, and to the fans who made this experience not only possible, but relatively safe and incredibly enjoyable during a time when we all needed some good days (and no thanks to the lady in seat 13D, who provided me neither safety nor enjoyment, just ranty blog post material). I'm going to miss this like crazy and look forward to "seeing" you all on the island, even if that island is digital and it takes us another year to trade the stream for the ocean in real life. It'll be worth the wait.

Credit to Yelena for the photo on the right side of the title graphic. Thanks!

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