August 29, 2021

I Get Around: Iowa State Fair

I had no intention of being at this show. When it was announced well over a year ago alongside the possibility of a world tour with new music, I told myself I'd rather save my PTO for something more worth the effort. Why spend money on a flight to Iowa for a one-off show with a predictable setlist when I could buy a flight to a tour stop, potentially hit 5+ shows in a row, and get new music? It was an easy pass for me.

Fast forward to the summer of 2021. Out of my last 17 shows, 16 were at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa. I'm grateful for every one of them, but suddenly the prospect of seeing Hanson open for the Beach Boys in Iowa seemed downright exotic. Throw in an unexpected John Stamos appearance, and two weeks before the show, my resolve to hold out crumbled. The only problem was I had already requested off part of the week right before to see Hanson in Tulsa again. I would have to make a last minute time off request and also somehow operate as a functional adult at work on about three weeks of no actual downtime. I started to talk myself out of it as fast as I had gotten on board.

The deciding factor came down to one final question that I asked myself, a variation of the same question I've used more than once to push myself to do/go/be when I'm starting to question if I should stop/stay/rest:

Years from now, are you going to remember that extra day of sleep, or are you going to remember the night you saw Hanson join The Beach Boys and John Stamos on stage?

It works every time.

I'd love to tell you that we showed up early and enjoyed the food and the rides and say clever things about how we had the perfect summer day where Hanson opened for The Beach Boys, and the fair opened for Hanson. But truthfully, it was hot and crowded in the middle of a pandemic, and as I get older my motion sickness on rides grows inversely proportional to my trust in fair construction, so we showed up at 5:30pm just in time to find a secluded corner to eat a corndog. 

Hanson's set was mostly as predictable as I would have guessed over a year ago, but just seeing them that happy and getting to be there to support them made it something special anyway. They played longer than I expected for an opener and got in a full 13 songs. Highlights for me were getting to hear "Give a Little" for the first time in what feels like way too long, and living through the awkward moment of attempting the TBS dance alone since I bought my ticket too late to sit with friends. It's definitely more of a group project. I was surprised that they didn't play any of the new singles from Against The World, but I got to hear them all the week before and really can't complain. I just thought it was a good opportunity to share their new music with a larger audience.

I really wasn't sure what to expect from The Beach Boys set, but the show was incredibly fun. They blew through song after song with a full ten-piece band including John Stamos on drums and guitar, one of the original member's sons, and a guy that can really nail an unexpected flute solo. The whole crowd sang along, and it was impossible not to join in and dance like we were all going to be in a music video about surfing.

I expected Hanson to show up for the encore, but I did not expect the encore to be three songs or for one of them to be a Hanson song. They started out with "Summertime Blues," and I immediately thought of the videos I've seen of tiny Hanson singing it a capella. Next was "Where's The Love" where The Beach Boys band played the music and Hanson provided the vocals. I know Taylor usually gets in the occasional "round and round" arm spin on WTL, but it was cute seeing the whole band get into it for lack of anything else to do with their hands. (Cue Taylor making dad puns and pointing to Mike Love after saying "Where's The Love".)

"Fun, Fun, Fun" was the highlight of the night with Taylor singing lead and Hanson looking so gleeful to be up there with musicians they've clearly admired since childhood. At one point John Stamos disappeared, then ran out to the front center of the stage and opened his jacket to reveal an old school Hanson shirt to the crowd. We ate it up, and I think Hanson was really enjoying the love and antics as well. 

I feel like this blog is starting to sound like the song title with the amount of times I've used the word "fun," but it really, really was. It was great to see everyone on stage and in the crowd having such a good time and enjoying what felt like a celebration of live music together, regardless of who we actually came to see or what decade we were born. I'm glad I got to experience The Beach Boys and a moment of music history that will never happen in that same way again. Getting to see an older band show up decades after their original hits and still filling the stands with fans spanning several generations was as treat that I can only hope is a glimpse into our own future. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be looking up at 80-year-old Hanson, surrounded by fans of a younger band and feeling connected by a timeless love of good music, and I'll think back on this day.

Whether I have that luxury or not, I certainly won't be 80-years-old looking back on that fantastic night of sleep I got in my 30s (if only because I've deprived myself of most of them). No regrets.

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