August 27, 2021

Underneath & The Walk: ATW + Concert Series

While I love being a “traveling fan” and all of the fun and memorable things that go along with following a band, I’d be lying if I said it was always easy. I’m no stranger to sacrificing sleep and downtime in order to chase another show, and as a result, out of the past 26 days of August, I have spent exactly one resting at home. I’m on day eight of eight work days in a row, and I’ve been ready for a nap far more times than I’ve been ready to write this blog. Spoiler: I’ve had time for neither. I don’t usually like to wait this long before writing a show review because I start to forget things, but sometimes life and Uncle Jesse get in the way. Thank God this post has been far more delayed than any of my recent flights, at least.

I knew when the ATW + Concert Series was announced that I should try to reign myself in and not go to every show. I skipped July, but I knew that if I made it to just one set, it would have to be August because Underneath and The Walk are my two favorite albums. I’ll spare you the story I’ve already told of how I rediscovered Hanson, but the main point is that Underneath has sentimental value to me as the album that drew me back in, and The Walk feels important because it was the first album since MON that I was around for in its entirety. I got to pre-order it, listen to it the day it dropped, and experience my first tour with it. Both played significant roles in me becoming a life-long fan.

Since it has already been a few weeks since these shows and it’s always hard to summarize every detail even if they happened yesterday, I thought a list format might be best for this one. Here are a few of my takeaways:

1) When you're sleep deprived and laying at a certain spot on the sidewalk in front of Cain's, and the sun is at just the right angle, the building being constructed across the street totally resembles the building on the Against the World cover. Kind of.

2) HOLY CHAIRS. Did we get old, or did back to back shows in the same city just make bringing chairs easier than usual? Whether they were rented or brought from home by those who drove, almost every single person in line had a chair. I really mean this, and it was bizarre. I’ve waited in plenty of Hanson lines and there are always a few chairs, but they are usually in the minority. This time I was in the minority sitting on the ground. I’m okay being the outlier because I know I can’t bring a chair with me to any other shows, so I might as well not get too comfortable (also, I may or may not have packed a small cot, so can I really talk about excess camping luxuries?) #whenyougetoldandstartusingachair

3) Speaking of camping, if you are a light sleeper, you will not sleep here. This was my first time attempting it in Tulsa, and OMG, it was SO LOUD! There’s an overpass right next to the venue, and it stays busy and full of big trucks all night long. The second night I intentionally moved further away from it, but was instead accosted by—I kid you not—a small tornado of empty pizza boxes rotating loudly against the sidewalk for what felt like hours. Earplugs and ZZZQuil weren’t enough to get me more than a combined two hours of sleep either night. Not sure I’ll ever do that again, but those are famous last words, so no promises.

4) I was happy to hear “Dancing In The Wind” for the first time in what felt like forever, but I definitely missed Taylor on electric guitar. (thankfully those pizza boxes waited until the following night to traumatize me, so I wasn’t stuck thinking about them dancing in the wind during this song)

5) “Broken Angel” and “Believe” were absolutely flawless, and I will continue to be a sucker for a piano ballad for the rest of forever.

6) The first chords of “Great Divide” opening up a show might be the single most nostalgic sound in the Hanson catalog for me. The only thing missing was this throwback that will make no sense to you if you didn’t attend the first leg of the original Walk Tour.

7) Isaac’s solo of “A Minute Without You” on the second night is probably my new favorite performance of AMWY ever. This one requires an actual longer story. When it was time for solos, Isaac came out and started “Deeper,” which was confusing for two reasons: 1. “Deeper” is not on The Walk, and 2. “Deeper” IS on Underneath, and as such, was already played the night before. He didn't make it very far before he stopped, laughed, and admitted that he was playing the wrong song. (It felt like a great throwback to the very first BTTI where Isaac did the opposite and accidentally started playing "Wish That I Was There" instead of “Deeper.” Something about this song calls for entertaining mishaps.)

He switched to AMWY instead, which still wasn’t on “The Walk” and only made slightly more sense, but I’m just here for a good time and not to make setlists, so what do I know? The thing about AMWY, though, is we all know every piece of it by heart and have been singing along for decades. If you take Taylor out of the equation, we don’t stop knowing where to sing the “Oh, yeahs!” And if you take out the drums, the electric guitars, the piano, and just strip it down to an acoustic guitar with a single voice—apparently we don’t change the volume we’re used to singing at, either. So when Isaac asked us to join in some crowd participation to back him up, we did. We sang one particular “oh yeah” back so enthusiastically that he stopped playing and said we were so loud that it made him forget the words. It made for a good laugh and I think set us all on an unspoken goal to continue to sing even louder for the rest of the song. Challenge accepted.

8) It felt like Hanson had really practiced and prepared to bring their best for both of these shows. I watched the livestreams in July and noticed several missed lyrics and chords, particularly on the new songs, but they were MUCH more polished this time. These were solid A+ shows to be proud of.

9) I know I can't keep acting like every show after a year's worth of seated tables is the closest thing I've had to normal, but being back in a GA crowd in Cain's did feel a little more like a normal Hanson show than the seated show in Virginia. The moment that really sealed it for me was dancing elbow to elbow during "Lost Without Each Other" and not being able to let loose with an awkwardly excessive amount of room to spare. I was able to disappear back into the comfort and "safety" of a crowd without 6 feet of dancing space on all sides (ironic, huh?), and there was something nice about that even if I loved the spaced out tables for other reasons. Totally missed that space for TBS, though.

10) Cheesecake factory closes at 10pm. I'm putting this here in hopes that one day, we will remember this fact well before 9:45pm, which in my experience is the peak time to recognize a sudden need for Cheesecake Factory.

11) I can always count on Hanson to make my face light up. 💚💙❤️

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