September 4, 2022

RGB Tour: Winnipeg

Living in the southeast U.S. comes with a certain "niceness" stereotype. You've probably heard the phrase "southern charm," and if you've ever been to a small town down here, you'll eventually realize that we smile and wave at anyone who drives past on a country road, regardless of whether or not we've ever seen you in our lives. Of course there are always exceptions, but I got a similar vibe from Winnipeg and wasn't surprised to learn that the slogan on their license plates is "Friendly Manitoba."

My interactions were minimal, but everyone was incredibly kind. This could partially be due to the fact that the venue doubled as a church that Sunday morning and most of my interactions with Canadians were people inviting me to the service, but inviting the sleep-deprived disheveled looking girls on the street to church rather than side-eyeing them is extending a bit more grace than some southerners do, so I'm still giving them credit. My favorite moment was a guy in buffalo plaid balancing two armloads of Tim Horton's who strolled right up to us and asked if we were waiting for the concert tonight, "eh?" and used "eh" roughly three more times. It was the most adorably Canadian thing I have ever seen in my life, and like I said, some stereotypes exist for a reason.

The line was surprisingly the hottest I waited in all tour, including North Carolina and Georgia in July, but that's because having shade makes a big difference. At one point before the show, Zac walked out and said "You could not be in more direct sunlight if you tried." Thank you, Joey Tribbiani. I responded maybe a bit too enthusiastically, "Yes, but there's a bench!" (What I probably should have said is "Too bad that shade you're throwing isn't actually helping with the sun.") I don't think he understood my bench excitement, but come on, how many times have you shown up to wait in a line and found built-in seating exactly where you need to be, and it will fit all of your friends? My answer was zero until Winnipeg. For what it's worth, instead of fangirling about seating, other Holly managed to counter his comment with a song request for "World Goes Around," but I'll let her tell you about that. 

Moments later, Andrew came out to set up the fan club banner, and we rigged it to act as just enough shade for the two of us sitting there. Thanks, hnet, for the unexpected SPF membership perk. 

We had a reporter and M&G in our car, and the other three of us were first in line, so everything worked out perfectly so that we all wound up in the front together. I loved that Hanson opened with "Waiting For This," I got irrationally excited about "Crazy Beautiful" like I always do, and it was a weird adjustment seeing Zac back on drums for "Don't Let Me Down" after two shows of frontman status. I guess it got progressively tamer each time I saw it on this trip. Isaac played "For Your Love" as his solo again, only this time he split the crowd participation into two parts down the middle of the crowd. He said "This is the first time I've ever done it this way," and I couldn't help but lean over and joke to my friend, "This is also the first time Isaac has ever said 'this is the first time' and it was true." Jokes aside, the crowd participation was strong and it was a great moment.

I'm really surprised to admit that the best song of the night, though, was "Wake Up." I'll be honest here. It's a fine song, but I don't really connect with the lyrics, so it's not my favorite from the album or even my favorite from the Blue section. So when I say Zac's performance of this song absolutely blew me away, I really mean that with no favorite song or rare or stage antics strings attached. It felt like he put every ounce of everything he had into that performance, and it sounded absolutely stunning. Towards the end I was angry that I hadn't started recording when I realized just how special it was, but I was too busy picking my jaw up off of the ground. As soon as he finished singing, someone screamed "Are you KIDDING ME?" and honestly? Same. How could I ever stay home again with them out there sounding like THAT in random cities?

After the show we waited to say goodbye, but Isaac was the only one who came out. I really don't blame them since they had just completed four shows in four days, and I'm thankful the show was as good as it was when they must have been completely exhausted. Also same, but at least all I have to do is show up.

I Don't Want To Go Home

My friends were all driving back down to Minneapolis the day after the show, but I paid a little extra to fly directly out of Winnipeg instead so I wouldn't have to take off an extra day from work. That backfired spectacularly. While waiting at my gate in Winnipeg, I got a notification that my flight was delayed two hours. My first layover was exactly two hours, so I was going to miss all of my connections. In the end, there was literally nothing that could get me home that same day, so I figured I might as well drive back down to Minneapolis with my friends and just fly out of MSP instead of being stuck alone in Canada overnight. This was incredibly hard for Delta to grasp and they kept trying to reroute me from Winnipeg to Vancouver to Minneapolis before I finally got them to understand that I was GOING TO MINNEAPOLIS IN A CAR and I didn't want a single flight from Canada, period. After five wasted hours in the airport, I had a new route home, my friends came back and rescued me, and I managed to see a bit more of Winnipeg than I originally planned. I also got to witness the laughably terrible rendition of MMMBop that Border Patrol asked us to sing to prove that we really had been in the country for Hanson.

When I finally landed home around 9pm the day after I intended to be back, I could not get to my car in the airport parking lot fast enough. As soon as I backed out of the space and headed towards the exit, I heard an unmistakable rhythmic "thunk thunk thunk" sound from somewhere in the back. Fantastic. I pulled into the closest space, inspected my tires, trunk, and under the car, and saw nothing wrong. I made it about a mile before I knew I couldn't continue driving with that sound and reluctantly pulled into a Walmart parking lot to inspect it again. This time, I discovered that the locking lug nut from my rear right tire had been stolen. I don't know enough about cars to know if the sound I was hearing could even possibly be due to that little missing piece (I only heard it when applying the brakes), but I knew in any case I shouldn't drive it sounding like that, so I called AAA around 9:30pm and was told it would be an hour wait.

During that hour, I dug in my glove compartment and found not only my wheel lock key, but four spare lug nuts. An hour and a half after my quoted hour, I watched a youtube video for how to properly secure a lug nut, dug out the tools in my spare tire compartment, and fixed the thing myself. A quick loop around the parking lot confirmed that that was not the source of the noise, and a second call to AAA provided me with "We're looking into finding someone to help you." At this point I called my mom and she suggested that she could drive the 45 minutes to me and then follow me to my dealership which happened to be just a few blocks away. We'd drop the car there, put my keys in their after-hours drop box, and she would just drive me home and I could call the dealership and explain in the morning.

At 12:30am after three hours of being ghosted by AAA, my mom finally made it and followed me to the dealership, which I turned into only to find a locked gate fully blocking the entrance and no way to leave a car. I burst into tears at this point, because literally what else could go wrong? Left with no other options, I slowly drove it 30 miles home and prayed the whole way, then stayed up to rent a car online because I had to be at work the next morning and my mom had to go out of town in six hours. On five hours of sleep about five minutes away from being dropped off at Enterprise the next morning, I got a call saying that they're sorry but they're completely out of cars. Not the type I asked for, just cars, period. My options are a minivan or a truck, because of course they are. I opted for the minivan and 100% expected to find it stolen after work at this point.

The end of the story is I finally got my car looked at and was told that they never heard any noise, and they took all the tires off and put them back on and didn't find anything wrong. They suggested that perhaps the sound I heard was a water bottle that was trapped in my spare tire compartment. I made sure to let them know that the water bottle got trapped in there AFTER the noise started when I went digging for tools, and thanks for mansplaining, but I did not rent a car for two days and panic that my brakes could go out because I had a freaking water bottle in my trunk. As soon as I took it on the highway I DID hear the noise again, but it went away and I haven't heard it since. At this point, I'm not even going to ask questions; I'm just happy to be home.

This definitely tops my list of worst travel experiences ever, but I am so grateful it happened going home instead of trying to get to the shows, and I'd endure it again if I could go back and record "Wake Up" from the beginning. I'd also do it again for "Rambling Heart" with a side of pierogis.

I'm always hoping that the sand meets the sky, but inevitably sometimes the s*** meets the fan, too. Fortunately, as I heard in Winnipeg, "the world goes around." ❤

August 31, 2022

RGB Tour: Fargo

Consider this your friendly RGB Tour installment of “Places Holly Never Meant to Be.” I knew when tour dates were announced and I only planned for Nashville, Atlanta, and Raleigh that I would want to add something later, but I had no idea where. I figured I would know it when I saw it even if it came down to “I have these two days off in a row; where is Hanson playing on those dates?” The lightbulb came in the form of a friend randomly asking me if I needed Fargo tickets because she knew another friend with extra third row seats. A state I’ve never been and third row seats to a sold out show? My gut answered “Yes, yes I do.”

We got to Fargo from Minneapolis with just enough time to hit the visitors center, grab lunch, and check out a few murals. The visitors center was full of movie references which I’m ashamed to admit were lost on me because I’ve never seen the movie Fargo. I’ve now seen the woodchipper, though, and can make an educated guess about its gruesome role in the film. We actually planned lunch at Wurst Bier Hall before we ever left for the trip thanks to 3/5 of us being adventurous eaters always in search of something new to try, so half of our table was happily eating salad and a bacon flight while the rest of us were reaching over each other tasting exotic sausages. I have zero regrets about my main choice of pierogi in a spicy sriracha butter and curry sauce, the rabbit and rattlesnake sausage dog I tried was decent though not amazing, but my first taste of borscht was a major letdown (the resident Russian in the car assured me it was subpar and I shouldn’t count it anyway).

Despite having third row seats, it turns out I’m not actually capable of turning down open front row even if it means I have to stand and wait in GA rather than sit in a chair. It all worked out, though, because I was able to give the seats to friends who needed a better view. Just to give a little context, this show was outdoors at Fargo Brewing Company with a running train track directly behind the stage, and it was the first show to sell out on the RGB tour. My expectation was for a packed semi-drunk crowd, and Fargo did not let me down.

My first inclination that things might get interesting came when a girl in the second row spilled beer in the lap of the girl next to me before the show started. Let’s call this person “Drunk Girl,” because anything else I can think to call her would be unkind. I wasn’t all that concerned that someone (gasp!) spilled beer at a brewery, and Drunk Girl was super apologetic at first and even started wiping it up with her skirt, which tbh was a tad questionable because she didn’t give any indication that she understood that rubbing this stranger’s thigh with her makeshift skirt-napkin might need approval. The real red flag, though, was when Drunk Girl said mid-swipe “I’m so sorry! But this is a beer store so you’re going to smell like beer” and then shrugged like it was common sense. Hold your beer, North Dakota, because I need to consult Hansonstage to see if I should add this one to my show count or start a new list of the number of beer stores I’ve attended.

The first few songs went fine, if not a little weird when we got to "If Only" and Taylor didn’t jump once. It felt so strange and foreign to me to be jumping without him, but then he finally said something to the effect of “For those of you who know what’s missing, this stage is a trampoline” and turned it into this little “if you know, you know” moment for those who had been to other Hanson shows. I definitely noticed and was glad for an explanation.

Things started to go downhill when I felt a hand squeeze onto the barricade between my elbow and the elbow of the girl next to me around the start of the acoustic set. Before I could react, the hand was followed by a crushing body slam that rammed me hard into the metal barricade. Re-enter Drunk Girl in this part of the story. For reference, I’m pretty small and so was the girl next to me. Drunk Girl was not, and I think she managed to body slam us both at the same time while trying to squeeze in between us. I didn’t know the girl next to me but got the impression that she was fairly young, maybe in her late teens or at least a good bit younger than me. My assumption is that she was probably not used to being bulldozed by drunk women, and while I try not to be either, I felt like between the two of us, I probably had more experience keeping them back. A combination of self-preservation and maybe a little bit of dormant mama bear instinct gave me momentary hulk strength, and I managed to position my elbow and shove Drunk Girl back with my whole body as hard as I could to get her off of us. It worked. For what it’s worth, I’ve been following Hanson for 15 years and have spent all 15 of them often being written off as the weakest link in the front row for wannabe stage rushers thanks to my size. Spoiler alert for anyone making that assumption: it ain’t me.

Thankfully, or so we thought at the time, there was a member of security directly in front of us when this happened. We tried to call him over and he told us “I didn’t see anything,” shrugged, and said “That happens in the front” when I explained what happened. Drunk girl never hit us that hard again since she lost the element of surprise and security was ~watching, but we spent several songs with her shoving up against us, trying to squeeze her arm between our bodies, and just generally being an awful distraction while pressing her entire body against my back. At one point I was being visibly rocked into the barricade while making eye contact with the security guard and motioning behind me so he would see, and he just smiled and shrugged like “What can you do?” I don’t know, your job? 

Drunk Girl even got into a yelling match with one of the other women next to us twice and was so up in her face that everyone around us was yelling for security because it looked like they were about to throw punches. The security guy in front of us literally walked off to point and laugh with another member of the security team instead of doing anything. It was the most condescending thing I have ever seen in my life, like they thought it was so cute these little MMMBop girls couldn’t handle a GA crowd. At that point I knew we were completely on our own, and I almost wished the girl would go ahead and hit me in front of the guy so he’d be forced to kick her out and we could be done with her. Who knows, maybe he would have taken a photo for his mysoginist buddies and said "it happens" instead.

After I realized there was no help to be had and Drunk Girl was still practically laying on my back, I finally turned around and yelled in her face "YOU CAN EITHER ENJOY THE SHOW FROM THAT SPOT OR SPEND THE REST OF YOUR NIGHT TRYING AND FAILING TO GET THIS ONE. YOUR CALL," and turned back around and ignored her. I don't know if I hit on some profound drunk girl logic or what, but I never felt her touch me again for the rest of the night, and I even noticed her singing along happily after that. It was wild.

No matter how many paragraphs I dedicated to her, Drunk Girl did not manage to ruin my night, and I did have one particularly great moment despite the chaos. Rewinding back to Minneapolis for a minute, after the show I briefly met Isaac and Taylor and used the opportunity to ask Taylor to please play “Rambling Heart” if there was any chance it would fit into a setlist over the next two days. He repeated back “you’ll be at the next two shows?” like he was trying to commit it to memory, so I confirmed yes and he said the odds were good that I might hear it. I knew it was already on several previous setlists but had mostly been written out and replaced with something else at the last moment, as was the case in Minneapolis, so I was elated when he walked out onto the stage in Fargo for his solo carrying a guitar.

I love Hanson’s music so much, but if you were to ask me to identify some sort of travel anthem for myself and pick a song that describes how I feel about traveling to shows, I’d tell you it’s Something Corporate’s “I Woke Up In A Car.” I feel every one of those lyrics in my little rambling heart, and “Rambling Heart” is the first Hanson song that really gives me those same feelings of loving life on the road and embracing the chaos that comes with it, even if my doses are much smaller than the musicians that wrote them. It’s a beautiful song and I was grateful for the opportunity to hear it. I was also grateful that Drunk Girl didn’t try to make a comeback during it, because I have no idea what I would have done and I’m glad none of us had to find out.

I’ll leave you with the lines that describe exactly how I feel in those little moments that I'm always chasing, like standing front row in a new city watching a halo of illuminated bugs dancing around a band member playing your new favorite song because you asked. They can be few and far between at times, but they're worth all the drunk girls, the travel fails, and the chaos along the way:

“I'm alive in this moment, watch the world melt away

And every new road feels like right where I belong

I wouldn't want it any other way”

August 27, 2022

RGB Tour: Minneapolis

And I Waited

For round two of the RGB tour, I flew from South Carolina to Minneapolis, then roadtripped from Minneapolis to Fargo and Winnipeg with four friends. If you enjoy reading fan experiences and are also a reader of the blog Scream and Be Frees or Hansonstage, be forewarned that we traveled together for these three shows and our stories are bound to have similarities. We’re also different people with different perspectives that didn’t stand next to each other every night, so I’m sure there will be some variation, too. It might even be fun to see what stood out more to different people in the same room.

Personally, my trip to Minneapolis was flawless. I got upgraded to first class, and somehow the only flight delay I experienced cut down an obscene layover from three hours to two and gave me an extra hour of sleep. That never happens. Thanks (for once), American!

We arrived at the venue just late/early enough to experience some of the joys that always seem to accompany middle of the night adventures. First, I was catcalled by a homeless man who started out with your standard “Hey baby, you’re beautiful. What’s your name?” which has been universal creep language for decades, but he really brought things forward into the 2020s when he began trying to guess my name (“Is it Melissa? Britney? Maybe you’re a Laura…”), and when I finally said “No,” he goes “Oh, so it’s Karen.” Dude’s got jokes.

Not long after that, we were approached by another man who was walking alone carrying what appeared to be a garment bag fresh from the dry cleaners (again…this was still the middle of the night. Context is everything). He told us he was going to meet his son who just got off a shift from a pizza shop and asked if we’d like ten free pizzas. Just to be clear, there were only three of us. We politely declined, listened to him ramble about something else unrelated, and then he wandered away. I was certain he was either lying, confused, or a little of both until about half an hour later we started to see people wandering down the street separately from each other with pizza boxes in hand coming from the direction he had gone. I’m not sad we missed out on free street pizza, but there’s something nice about the seemingly weirdoes of an area really looking out for each other.

The line was pretty relaxed all day, and by the time doors opened I was lucky enough to snag a great spot in the front row on Taylor’s side. It was my first time seeing Allen Mack Myers Moore opening, and I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the energy of having a full band on stage instead of Hanson’s usual guy with a guitar formula.

The first noticeable difference in the setlist from my previous shows was when Isaac pulled out “For Your Love” for his solo. He introduced it by saying “This is the first time this song has been played on this tour,” and while it was the first time *I* heard it this tour, that statement was not actually true. I swear I’ve heard Isaac make incorrect “This is the first time…” statements about songs at least four times now, but I’d probably suffer from setlist amnesia too if I was in the middle of a 90-show run. 

After my last three shows were over, I was sad to hear that I missed “Dressed in Brown Eyes” featuring John Calvin Abney on the harmonica later in the tour, so I was really happy to get to hear it in Minneapolis featuring Zack Mack from AMMM instead. It’s such a fun fan club song and I’m glad it made its way into a regular show.

It's Happening

I could try to pretend that I have anything left to say about this show that doesn’t relate to “Don’t Let Me Down,” but let’s be real. When I look back on this show in the future, the thing that is going to come to mind is the guest appearance of Reggie Willie.

I'll rewind for a moment just in case your forwarding address is under a rock: One of Hanson's singles from their latest album Red Green Blue is a Zac lead called "Don't Let Me Down" that features guitar from Zach Myers of Shinedown, who also happens to be Zach Myers of Allen Mack Myers Moore who was opening for Hanson at this show. If you have any hope of understanding what happened, you need to have seen the music video first.

I think we all had a little bit of an inkling that Reggie could make an appearance since Zac did a version of it already in Springfield, Zach Myers was heavily teasing his presence on social media right before the show, and this was the last “real” show Zach would be at to play guitar. At one point I even said “wouldn’t it be cool if he broke out the muscle suit from the video?” However, no version of me could have predicted the involvement of fruit.

When they all walked back out on stage for the encore, the lights were dimmed but I immediately noticed the tank top and shorts and knew we were about to get an epic performance. Unlike in Springfield, this time Zac was wearing the full original costume from the music video- Dum Bell’s gym shirt, yellow shorts, and upper body muscle suit with sunglasses. When Zac/Reggie walked out from behind the piano and the lights came back on, you can literally see the video I was taking at the time fall over and aim at the floor for a moment as my brain short circuited trying to process what I was seeing. I swear my hand just lost function momentarily while all power was rerouted to my eyes to decipher reality. It took me a split second to decide THAT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT REAL, and I got a good laugh thinking of the socks or whatever might be stuffed in those shorts for comedic effect after how thirsty fans got from the previous performance. This was clearly Zac’s troll response to the collective fandom meltdown those tiny blue shorts caused in Springfield.

I was laughing right up until he put his hand down his shorts and pulled out an actual banana, took a bite, and lobbed it in my general direction. There are certain situations in life where you’d like to think you know how you would react if it happened to you, but sometimes it takes actually being in that situation to find out what’s really in your heart. I’m proud to say that when that crotch banana came flying over my head, my gut instinct was to duck—not catch it. I think my favorite part was relaying this story to my absent friend later whose casual reply was “Well duh, you’re allergic to bananas!” Minor details. 

(P.S. Shoutout to Zach Myers for the best look of instant regret I have ever seen in my life the second after he bites the banana and seems to register that he's now committed to chewing and swallowing it.)

Though the whole thing was clearly meant to be some exaggerated workout display, a few of his moves were definitely bordering on bad male stripper vibes, and I couldn’t help but remember a time years ago when the same friend and I saw a small taste of something similar. You can check out the full story in my Instagram post below, but TL;DR, I’m pretty sure I met pre-fame Reggie back in 2013.

The whole performance was hilarious, and I'm really glad I got to be there in person for what has got to be the biggest "WTF is happening" moment I've ever experienced at a Hanson show. Well, maybe second to the time Taylor unexpectedly invited me on stage and then SUPER unexpectedly started dancing with me. And maybe third to the time that one guy jumped head first out of the balcony in front of me. I think the bottom line here is that anyone who thinks all Hanson shows are the same is not living the same fan life I am. Thanks, Hanson, for never letting me down when it comes to having a good time.

I finally got a new phone that does decent things even if it can't write blogs for me just yet, so while I'm usually quick to give you the thousand words instead of the picture, I'll leave you with a full HD video of my view for once:

TL;DR BTS lingo translation: "Don't Let Me (Look) Down". (Am I doing this right,  Rachel? 👋🤣)

July 30, 2022

RGB Tour: Raleigh


Confession: Raleigh was always a little bit of a "throwaway" show in my mind when I started making tour plans. There's no way I was going to miss it when it's the closest show to home, but it wasn't part of a multi-show trip and I didn't make plans to go with friends. I drove up Wednesday and drove back Thursday morning, and I knew in advance that there was no way I was going home feeling fulfilled with such a small dose of Hanson and an even smaller dose of friends. Thankfully, Raleigh was up to the challenge of proving me wrong.

Despite going alone, Raleigh is arguably "home turf" for me (or as home as I can get when Hanson hasn't played in my state in 13 years), so I knew I'd run into a lot of familiar faces from past southeast shows. I knew one person in line ahead of me and quickly made new friends with the rest. Everyone was so friendly and polite, and it was an overall great experience leading up to the show--the venue staff even brought us popsicles! Shoutout to every single one of you. Nobody ahead of me left for longer than a bathroom break or tried to squeeze in any latecoming friends. I'm going to need to copy and paste this line experience to all future shows, thanks.

When we finally got inside with the members line, I wound up front row almost directly in front of Isaac. John Calvin Abney was opening again, sans guitar malfunctions this time, but things went a little bit sideways in my part of the crowd right after he finished his set. I’m going to spare you some of the specifics, but the shorter version is I experienced a Hanson concert first in Raleigh that night: the person next to me in the front row threw up, and then it happened again as she was facing me trying to get out of the crowd, and I swear my life flashed before my eyes.

I came out mostly unscathed, but my involuntary reaction was to throw my hands over my face, turn my body, and bend over as far as I could to bury my face in the safety of the strangers behind me, some of whom seemed understandably concerned that I had turned to vomit on them myself. There was kind of a sitcom funny/not funny moment where I found myself shouting “I’m not a sympathetic vomiter!” trying to reassure them that my crazy movements had just been an involuntary reaction to get out of the way, not an indication that I was going down next. Thankfully there was no horrifying chain reaction (Problem Child 2, anyone?), and I have never been happier to be wearing a mask.

So what do you do when your hard-earned front row spot has just been compromised by vomit? We immediately called over security for help and were told that due to the location and the construction of the barricade, they wouldn’t be able to clean it up until after the show (the metal floor of the barricade was a grid of hollow metal squares raised an inch or two off of the wooden floor below if you want the mental image). They ended up throwing some of that industrial powdered cleaning stuff over the side of the barricade to take care of it the best that they could, but as they were walking away, we quickly realized a second issue. To put it as politely as I can, the inside of the barricade needed to be cleaned from the top to the bottom, not just the floor. We asked if they could please come back with wipes or something to keep us from being pushed into that spot of the barricade. Do you need this level of detail? No. But the venue’s response was too comically pathetic to leave out.

A different staff member finally came back wearing gloves and carrying—I kid you not—a single napkin. ONE NAPKIN. She reached her arm over to our side and cleaned what she could reach, but the barricade from about waist down still needed to be cleaned. We begged her to come back with more cleaning supplies, but her response was “I’m sorry, this is all I have.” I won't name names, but a brave soul in the 2nd row took one for the team and finally convinced the staff member to give up one of her gloves and the wimpy napkin so we could finish the job. Someone around us volunteered the rest of their water, and we did what had to be done (I say "we" in solidarity of the few of us in that bubble, but I deserve zero credit here). You are the true MVP and you earned front row more than any of the rest of us did that day. Thank you!

I do want to make it really clear that I have ZERO hard feelings for the person who got sick. She was super sweet, was not drunk, and did nothing wrong; I think the heat just got the best of her. The relative that got her out of the crowd and didn’t pressure her to stay or make her leave the crowd alone did exactly what you should do when someone you’re responsible for needs help. I’ve seen my share of selfish parents/guardians when it comes to a choice of taking care of your kid or losing out on your own good time. I’m glad to report I’ve heard that she is feeling better and both were still able to enjoy the show from elsewhere in the crowd. 


I don't know what it was about Raleigh in particular, but I really felt like the crowd had more energy than the other two shows I attended. Everyone around me was jumping and clapping and having a great time, and I know sometimes that comes with the territory of being in the front row and you simply don't have a view of the people around the room that are standing still, but even Nashville didn't seem this pumped from a comparable spot. Taylor commented on it too at one point, maybe before he killed us with a semi-acapella rendition of "Save Me." I could write it off as lip service, but I didn't hear a similar comment at Nashville or Atlanta, so I'm going to go with the band was feeling it too.

Raleigh was the first time I heard Taylor attempt this crowd sing-a-long version of Save Me, and while I vaguely heard something about it happening the night before in Birmingham, I didn't really understand until it was happening in front of me. He started the song standing at the front of the stage with just a microphone and a smile and invited us to join in, and then he had us carry the song without him for a bit. There were several shouts that took away from what the moment could have been, but I was pretty impressed with the crowd's ability to fill in the blanks of a song that was never actually a single and hit its prime in 2000. 

Zac switched up his solo and played "Good Days" from the 2020 members EP, and Isaac surprised me by scrapping song voting for that night and played "Deeper" instead. At one point in the show when Taylor gives his speech about how you could be anywhere else in the world tonight, but you chose to be here with your significant other, your friends, your family, etc., that night he chose to add in "stranger friends," which is a term I've never heard him use before but was perfectly fitting for my circumstances. I've made so many "stranger friends" at Hanson shows, and I'm thankful for them all, whether they last for a night or stick around for a decade and just become stranger and stranger. 😉

The encore got back a little bit of the "oomph" missing at my previous two shows, though I'm not sure "Get The Girl Back" is really encore material. It's upbeat and works well enough as part one of a two-part encore, though, so I was pleased. "Fired Up" as the final song left me really happy but also really missing my usual travel partner who understands the assignment of when to jump with me during the chorus. Apparently I can do the TBS dance without her, but jumping solo during "Fired Up" just felt too wrong. Turns out not jumping during it feels just as wrong to me, though, so we'll see what happens next time. Obviously the solution is just to bring her to everything, which she's usually on board with most of the time.


After the show was a super weird bus experience because it is the only time in my entire life that I have heard security ask people to leave and every last person actually listened on the first attempt. It was absolutely bizarre. There have been times when I've seen multiple police officers ask fans to move only to have an entire crowd play dumb and not budge an inch. Yet somehow, this one security guy at The Ritz calmly suggests it's time to go home once, and everyone's polite southerner gene kicks into high gear and sends them off with a smile and a wave. I was absolutely floored, annoyed that I had to give up my good spot at the barricade because I was not about to be the only person refusing to move, and determined enough to step back but not leave entirely. As soon as enough "new" people exited the building who hadn't heard the original warning to leave, people began going to the barricade again and I rejoined the crowd. This time Isaac and Zac came out and the same security guy was all smiles that we were there. Naturally. I think the best part was when Zac picked up a scooter to put it back on the bus and someone shouted "Do a trick!" He pressed a button that made it collapse into itself into a packable size and shouted back "There's your trick!" Before walking onto the bus.

Once Isaac and Zac were done greeting everyone, security started to tell us to leave again, and once again, every last person cleared the barricade immediately. I backed away thinking "Have we learned nothing here?" Security was a little more adamant this time, though, so most people actually left for good. I'm sure most were pleased to have gotten 2/3 of the band if not the whole trifecta, but the whole reason I was waiting was to get Taylor to sign my Ryman poster after Zac and Isaac had already signed in Atlanta, and this was my final opportunity to complete it without having to figure out how to pack it on a plane. I spent a few minutes talking to fans in the parking lot, and finally Taylor came out and met a very small group of maybe 20 of us. I got a quick conversation, a photo, and a signed poster, and no, I didn't feel all that bad for making the staff member who ghosted us during vomitgate stay a little bit longer into her night.


1. When in Raleigh, it's important to have a Costco membership or a friend with a Costco membership.
2. Canned water is an abomination.
3. If Isaac takes mild offense to your suggestion that his solo voting system is rigged, understand that you may not be aware that your friend accused him of the exact same thing the night before.
4. Open-toed sandals in front row are risky footwear. 2/2 front rows this tour will agree that mistakes were made. If you see me in rain boots on a sunny day at a show in the future, mind ya business.
5. You're never truly alone at a Hanson show. ❤💚💙

July 25, 2022

RGB Tour: Nashville & Atlanta

RGB Setlist

Before I jump into city specifics, I think it makes the most sense to talk about the RGB tour in general (keep in mind I have a whole three shows’ expertise under my belt and that the tour isn’t even halfway done, so obviously this is super subjective). Despite avoiding setlist spoilers before attending these shows, I couldn’t escape comments here and there wishing that Hanson would play more new songs off of Red Green Blue and less singles. After experiencing a few shows for myself, I’m both inclined to agree but also thankful for what we got. The fangirl in me wants as many new songs as she can possibly get and also “Rambling Heart” every night for the rest of forever. The live music fan in me just wants the maximum number of upbeat songs that can be crammed into a single setlist and leave her begging for water and a nap. Somewhere in the middle of both of those things is the fact that if they actually played RGB all the way through, my hansonstage stats might benefit, but I’m pretty sure I’d be begging for “If Only” by mid-Green.

RGB is a lot more quiet and mellow than everything that came before it, and I feel like this might be one of those “be careful what you wish for” situations where we wouldn’t actually be any happier if we got what we think we wanted. In short: The RGB tour setlist might be a little Middle of Everywhere Tour 2.0, but at least the MOE tour understood the assignment to keep my adrenaline going. 

If they're only going to do a few new songs, though, "Cold as Ice" 1,000% belongs on this setlist. Forgive my previous album review where I couldn't commit to a favorite song from Green; I'd now like to go on the record to say that my favorite song from Green is "Cold As Ice" live. Isaac gets so into it and looks like there is nothing he'd rather be doing than singing that song, and honestly there's nothing I'd rather be doing in that moment than standing in the room to witness it. A+, please play it every night and pity anyone who misses it. 

I also have no idea who pitched the idea of playing [name redacted bc I'm not going to be the one spoiling it for you. If you know, you know] before "If Only", but it's the perfect mix of mainstream and obscure to play for a crowd full of people in my age range. Whether you've been to a hundred Hanson shows and think you know every upcoming note, or you've been dragged by a friend and never heard a Hanson song in your life, the first time you hear it is sure to make you go "Wait, is that...?" Yep. It is.


The first time I saw Hanson perform at the Ryman Auditorium was at a Blood:Water event back in 2011. I had balcony seats and they only played four songs. Cell phone cameras were garbage and real cameras weren't allowed, so I don't have a single photo from that day. Coming back over ten years later to watch them play a full show to a sold out crowd from the front row was a totally different experience and a great way to watch my first show of the RGB tour. I don't have a Hanson bucket list and I never set out to mark off seeing Hanson from the front row at various iconic venues around the world, but after the second biggest presale fail I've ever witnessed, I wasn't mad when my friend pulled us tickets in row AA amidst the chaos. (If the Ryman presale stressed you out, let me tell you about the time a seated presale went so wrong that the one college class I planned to skip turned into TWO DAYS because the glitches went on for hours until it got rescheduled for the following day).

To be honest, I was a little worried that everyone panic-buying "bad" seats and then buying more when they found better would leave quite a few empties even though the event was officially sold out. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the crowd looked full and excited to be there in person, though, with the only noticeable gaps being in the extreme corners of the balcony.

I walked in a little late thanks to a horrendously long merch line and ended up missing the opener's first song. His name is John Calvin Abney, though give it a few months and he'll be relegated to either John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt or Paul Tovar in my mind due to lack of memory and reasons. In all seriousness though, this dude is talented with a harmonica and handled himself extremely well when his guitar suddenly went out in the middle of a song. He spent the whole rest of the song playing his guitar right up to the microphone next to his face while the crowd clapped (semi) rhythmically to help him out, and I'm sure the moment he was stuck singing with no guitar in the middle of the sold out Ryman isn't one he'll soon forget.

After hearing that the new songs were few and far between, I was happily surprised to hear Zac choose "Wake Up" as his solo. Paul McDonald made a surprise appearance during "Write You A Song" since he co-wrote it with Isaac and happens to live in Nashville, so that was fun. Isaac had the crowd vote for his solo, and the options were "Deeper," "Hand in Hand," and "River." "River" won (I hear this had already  happened at a few shows and "River" was on a winning streak). It was easily a crowd favorite, especially being followed by part of "I Only Wanna Be With You."

The show ended with "Change In My Life" a capella with no microphones, which reminded me a lot of "Too Much Heaven" at the Sydney Opera House and was another one of those moments in Hanson history that I was grateful to witness in person. They sounded amazing, but let's be honest--our clapping didn't. 


1. Nashville on a Friday night is WAAAY crazier than I remembered. We had to leave a bar without ever going inside because I literally could not hear my friend shouting to me on the sidewalk outside of it.
2. There was a fantastic moment where I felt like Taylor was looking right at me during the show, only to turn and realize he's looking at the girl who has materialized behind my back that is being dragged away by security. I'm not sure what all I missed, but by the time I noticed, my chair was almost folded in half with my things falling out of it, and there was a spilled drink flowing underneath it. Which brings me to...
3. If you're going to drink at a show, I support your good time, but also like...try to drink it all before you get excited and trample it? That was one of probably five or more drinks that got spilled in my vicinity throughout the night, and they flowed from every direction around me except the stage. Y'all, I promise the Ryman floor is not as thirsty as you are.
4. Note to past-self: ditch taking photos during the final bow. The really cool crowd shot from behind the stage is significantly less cool to look back on when you blocked your own face with your phone. Also not worth it when all of your bow photos are 50% your friends clapping hands anyway.


In true tour fashion of questionable decisions, we opted to drive the four hours straight to Atlanta after the Nashville show instead of waiting for the following day in hopes of avoiding terrible traffic. It actually paid off, but we didn't get to bed until 5am and then slept until noon. Since I chose the balcony in Atlanta, I stood in the merch line for a friend and spent all of two minutes waiting vs. the hour I spent in Nashville. It's crazy the difference a seated show makes, but Nashville also had limited special edition hatch print posters, so I'm sure that added to the demand.

The setlist was very similar to Nashville, but a few notable differences were "Broken Angel" in place of "Wake Up," "You Never Know" instead of "Thinking Bout Something," and the introduction of a fun new cover mashup that starts with War's "Low Rider" and goes into "Oh La La La." It's not a pairing I would have ever dreamed up, and "Oh La La La" is an unexpected deep cut to play at a regular show, but it totally works. I surprised myself a little with this opinion, but "Oh La La La" might actually be one of my favorite songs on this tour's setlist.


1. Man Vs. Fries is good but not $40 Doordash good, especially when you're shorted fried Oreos.
2. I drifted off during our overnight drive and woke up around 3am to a heated debate about the technical definition of slavery, and all I could think is this is it. This is what old people road trips are like. 
3. Not playing "Rambling Heart" in "Hotlanta" was an actual crime.
4. My tolerance for the fist pumping "heys" at the beginning of "Don't Let Me Down" is at least 30 seconds shorter than Taylor wants to keep it up. There was a certain point both nights where it felt unnatural to keep it going and all I could think towards Taylor was "Stop trying to make 'fetch' happen."

Final Thoughts: 

I loved it and had a great time, as usual. I had a lot of fun traveling and hanging out with my friends, and driving a simple four hours between shows made me realize 1) how much my travel habits have changed and relied on flying in the last few years, and 2) how much I miss "classic" tour with weeks in a car on the road. It can be exhausting and dirty and stressful, but there's something about the long hours, the late night truckstop runs, and the utter delirium of confused and contagious crying laughter in the middle of the night that can't be replicated on a plane or anywhere else in the world. Nashville and Atlanta felt like a tease in a way, a quick dip of my toe into my favorite pool, but ultimately I didn't get to go swimming.

I suppose it's a good thing that I came away wanting more, that I don't have to worry about feeling burnt out or wonder if I'm "over" this band, because clearly I'm not. If I only had two words to describe this trip, I'd choose "not enough," which is exactly how I'd describe my very first show, too.

Thankfully, I hear the road goes on forever.

May 30, 2022

Red Green Blue: An Album Review

This may be the longest blog post I have ever written, but I am so grateful to be weighed down by the burden of too many new Hanson songs at one time. It's the best problem to have, really.

I always struggle with writing music reviews because I can analyze lyrics and word choice all day long, but I don't have the right vocabulary or music background to discuss the sound, the instruments, the arrangements, the production, etc., at a similar level. Writing has always been such a powerful outlet for me because I often feel like I'm able to put exactly how I feel into words, and it's a very liberating feeling. Even just tackling this post, I feel like I already appreciate several of these songs more now that I've sat down and put feelings into words that I honestly didn't know I had until I was writing them down.

The flip side, though, is it can be very frustrating when I don't have the words, and music is one of those downfalls for me. It's strange to be able to listen to a song and form opinions about what parts I love and what parts I don't but not having the words to express them beyond a basic "I like how this sounds" or "I don't like how this sounds." As a result, this turned out to be a very lyric-heavy review more about song meanings than sound. I've been careful to avoid reading other fans' opinions and reviews, so if there are any similarities here, it's because obviously we're right and not because I borrowed anyone else's theories 😉. I can't wait to dive right in to what others think about the album as soon as I hit publish.

Song: 1. Child At Heart

What It Sounds Like: An inner-voice pep talk

Favorite Lyric: "You can just breathe / You are no mistake"

My Interpretation: We've heard enough in interviews about this one as the first single that I don't need to pretend I'm having any original thoughts about the meaning. "Child At Heart" is about holding onto the kind of innate optimism and hope that children have rather than letting the world beat you down and make you jaded.

What I will add from my own two cents, though, if you care to follow me down a rabbit hole, is that the line "you can chase a star" makes me think of the boy from "Reaching For The Sky." I don't know if the star imagery was an intentional allusion to String Theory or if I'm doing a bit of reaching myself, but I really like that you could read the lyrics of "Child At Heart" like they're advice to that optimistic boy who never stops reaching even when others try to tell him it's not worth it. Maybe the guy in the CAH music video is that boy all grown up giving himself a pep talk trying to hold onto that perspective he had as a child so that he can continue seeing the best in the world. Commence conspiracy theory-level conjecture, but I love making that connection even if Taylor didn't put it there intentionally.

Red Ranking: 2/5

Song: 2. Rambling Heart

What It Sounds Like: Tom Petty's "Wildflowers"

Favorite Lyric: "Wherever I go is my home sweet home/ Every note is my home sweet home"

My Interpretation: This is a love song to music and travel about feeling at home in the middle of both. It's obviously written from the perspective of a musician who has grown up on the road writing music, but I really like it because the same can apply to a fan like me who also feels at home in some place I've never been listening to a song that feels like home no matter where I'm hearing it.

For years, my bio on hnet said "I like to ramble, both geographically and verbally. Join me some time" and included a link to this blog. I liked the play on the word "ramble" because it has two definitions and can apply to both writing and traveling, and I think the same concept applies to this song. Taylor (and Hanson) certainly has a rambling heart with a drive to share his words and his music all over the world, and--cheese alert--I'm happy to report every note IS my home sweet home.

Red ranking: 1/5

Song: 3. Truth

What It Sounds Like: A poetic semi-spoken word folk song

Favorite Lyric: "So don’t hold on to bitter, it’ll come home to roost"

My Interpretation: "Truth" describes a strained relationship of some kind that has seen better days and a desire for resolution through honesty. It's vague enough that it feels universal and could apply to anyone--a romantic relationship, best friends, family members, even a musician and his fans.

The thing I really like about it is if you pay attention to the lyrics, the speaker/narrator of the song never actually places blame on anyone even though I think the human inclination is to do exactly that. Each time he mentions something the other person does wrong, he follows it up with another line that faults himself equally ("Cause I drive you crazy every other word that I say/ But I feel like you’ve been pushing me away"). And his suggestion that they need a little bit of truth? It's not clear if he means truth from himself or truth from the other person. It could easily be an angry song demanding answers with lines like "You owe me the truth," or a song about guilt that says "I need to tell you the truth," but it's neither, and I think the implication is that the only way to move forward is if BOTH parties come clean.

The song also doesn't make clear whether the end goal is to fix the relationship and stay in it, or if the "truth" is that it's time to let it go and move on. Sometimes the little bit of truth that we all need is simply being honest with ourselves, and with lines about bringing "peace" and being "set free," I think it could just as easily be read as a song about admitting the truth to yourself so that you can move on from a relationship that's no longer working. With lines like "we might miss what's still left from today" I think the overall vibe is a little bit more hopeful than that, but it leaves you with a strong sense that you don't know what the resolution is yet, but the only way to figure it out is to face the truth.

Red Ranking: 5/5

Song: 4. We Belong Together

What It Sounds Like: Andrew McMahon's newer stuff 

Favorite Lyric: "All this living has been taking your life"

My Interpretation: It doesn't sound a thing like "Carry You There" musically, but I think the message is the same. It's a song about recognizing when someone you care about is struggling and offering them support even if they're not up to fighting for themselves. It doesn't specifically mention mental health, but I think there is still a sense of awareness for it that suggests being observant and receptive to the people around us and making sure that they know you are a part of their support system. I chose "All this living has been taking your life" as my favorite lyric because I think it's a poetically tragic way to describe depression, but I also love the positivity in the line "You don't have to break alone/ You don't have to break, we can build something better."

Red Ranking: 4/5

Song: 5. Semi Hollow

What It Sounds Like: George Michael, Hall & Oates, and Taylor Hanson walk into a guitar shop...

Favorite Lyric: "Here downtown, standing in the ballroom now /You’re the one turning me on, while they have been posing/You and I were closing"

RGB Misheard Lyric Award: 
What Taylor said: You're damn sure fun to play.
What I heard at the listening party:  Redemption from the plague. (#foreshadowing)

My Interpretation: I don't know a ton about guitars, but it's impossible to miss that this song is basically a love song to one. Instead of being completely straightforward, the lyrics are written in this clever ambiguous way where it could also be a love song to a girl, albeit one who gets around and isn't all that deep. "All my friends, they know that you get around," "I know that I could turn you down," "You sure are fun to play/I can't stop turning you on" etc. For almost every line, you can ask yourself "Is it a girl, or is it a guitar?" and the lyrics fit for both.

As for my favorite lyric, I chose the lines above because they are the most perfectly ambiguous and potentially misleading part of the song. To anyone not familiar with Hanson or their hometown, those particular lines sound more like they're about a girl and it's harder to make the guitar connection. "Here downtown, standing in the ballroom now /You’re the one turning me on, while they have been posing/You and I were closing". The surface level image is of a guy standing in a ballroom at a dance with a girl that he's wildly attracted to, and he's writing off the other people in the room as posers while his relationship is real. But if you know Hanson and Tulsa? That ballroom downtown might be Cain's, the posers are other musicians, and he and his beloved guitar are the real deal.

Is it a deep song? Nah. But it sure is fun to play...and yes, I DO enjoy the way it resonates.

Red Ranking: 2/5 Yes, it's tied with Child At Heart.

Song: 6. Greener Pastures

What It Sounds Like: Joshua and the Holy Rollers...oh wait.

(Least) Favorite Lyric: I WANT to like "effervescent hues," I really do. I'm all for unique word pairings and creative descriptions, and this one is certainly inventive. Unfortunately, the usage is just not quite right to my ear, and I can practically hear someone asking "What does that line mean, though?" and being met with "I don't know man, but doesn't it sound cool?"

My Interpretation: I have to be honest. I had mentally turned this one into a skip song before I ever even heard it just based on the fact that it was a cover. That's probably unfair and dismissive of me, but it's an involuntary reaction that I can't alter no matter how much I rationally know that it's okay for 1/15 of the album to be a cover written by a blood relative that also has musical talent. That being said, it's not a bad song, it just isn't a HANSON song, and while it does sound good, I can't really make the lyrics mean anything to me. Sorry, bros! It gets points for being the first song to include all four Hanson brothers, and I'm sure they had a great time working on it together. Maybe it will grow on me.

Green Ranking: 5/5

Song: 7. Write You A Song

What It Sounds Like: A fun-filled summer day.

Favorite Lyric: "I see blue skies, sunrise, dandelions and conversations"

My Interpretation: This song needs no explanation; it's exactly what it sounds like--a song from a loving Dad to his little girl so that she'll always have something to remember their good memories together. It's super sweet and fun sounding, and it makes me just a little bit sad and jealous that I'll never have something so sweet to remember my own Dad. I'm sure Isaac's daughter loves it and will probably appreciate it even more when she's older.

Obligatory conspiracy theory connection to a past Hanson song: I can't help but smile a little bit at the line "You're my Oklahoma daisy" while thinking of 16-year-old Isaac singing about planting seeds and wondering what flower is going to grow. Twenty five years later, we have our answer: he's been growing a daisy!

Green Ranking: 2/5

Song: 8. No Matter The Reason

What It Sounds Like: Isaac Hanson gone country

Favorite Lyric: "God has made no better good than you for me"

My Interpretation: I've seen a few comments accusing this song of supporting the idea of staying in a toxic relationship, but I'm going to give Isaac the benefit of the doubt and assume that the perspective of this song is coming from someone who has never dealt with a true deal-breaker scenario in their relationship. I know he's saying he's staying "no matter the reason," but surely we can read an implied asterisk into it and take it as "*No matter the reason" with the understanding that of course there is an implied footnote full of toxic reasons to run far, far away and never look back--they're just not in this song. He's not condoning staying with an abuser; he's writing about not giving up when things get hard. He's talking about sticking around because the love you have for someone is bigger and stronger than the conflicts. It's an emotionally raw song that I can't personally relate to, but I can appreciate the guts it took to put it into a song and release it to the world.

Green Ranking: 3/5

Song: 9. The Gift Of Tears

What It Sounds Like: Isaac Hanson gone Contemporary Christian.

Favorite Lyric: "When all hope is dead and gone, pray on."

My Interpretation: Hanson doesn't often put overly religious messages into their songs, but I can't do enough mental gymnastics to make this one about anything other than seeking forgiveness and grace from God. The opening verse talks about a wedding "between your heart and your soul" and a time for new beginnings which sounds like a pretty effective description of salvation to me. The urgency behind "Pray it up, pray it down/ Get down on your knees, brother and kiss the ground/ We could be gone tomorrow, this life ain’t free" expresses a need to share this "gift" with others, and I think the "gift of tears" is really the emotional response to being given the gift of forgiveness and salvation. To me, this song is a profession of faith and a desire to share it with others.

Green Ranking: 4/5

Song: 10. Cold As Ice

What It Sounds Like: funk (n.)- : music that combines elements of rhythm and blues and soul music and that is characterized by a percussive vocal style, static harmonies, and a strong bass line with heavy downbeats

Favorite Lyric: "I'm a human jukebox, I play all the hits"

My Interpretation: This song is the #1 reason in this post that I wish I had a better music vocabulary because it has such a fun groove to it that I can't really describe. It brings back a little bit of the upbeat vibe that feels lacking in this album compared to others. As for what this song means, it's a fun kind of snarky/tongue-in-cheek description of a flawed but feisty and attractive woman. There are a lot of clever lyrics and turns of phrases here, and "She pawns my watches to buy me time" is an easy runner-up for my favorite line. However, I am at a total loss and cannot make sense of "every single word she says is frozen twice." What does this mean??

Green Ranking: 2/5. I realize my ranking system is flawed and I didn't choose a #1 for Green, but I can't and I don't have to.

Song: 11. Bad

What It Sounds Like: Angry synthesizers

Favorite Lyric: "The tight rope is frayed and it's wearing me thin." Hello there, allusion to "The Walk."

My Interpretation: My first reaction to hearing "Bad" at the listening party is that it must be in reaction to some of the backlash that Hanson and Zac have received over the last couple of years, but I think it could also apply to pretty much any situation where you feel wrongly judged by someone else. It's calling out that unfair judgment ("so many things you can't tell from just the scars on my skin") and the draw that some people seem to have towards conflict ("moth to the flame").

The line about not "measuring men by colors and flags" feels a bit cryptic, but what I get out of it is that you shouldn't judge someone based on what they look like, where they come from, or what labels they identify with. I'm a little stuck on the line "no one can change the worth of a life," but maybe it just means you can't devalue someone's life no matter what you think of them; no matter what you perceive them to have done wrong, they're still human. I think the interesting thing about this song is that as often is the case with any conflict, you could probably read these same lyrics from the opposing perspective and find that they feel the exact same way.

Blue Ranking: 5/5

Song: 12. World Goes Around

What It Sounds Like: Robert Frost, but make it Hanson.

Favorite Lyric: "Even the sun goes down"

My Interpretation: Time marches on. Good things can't last forever, but by that same logic, bad things can't either. It's up to you to be the optimist or the pessimist in how you choose to view the world and any given situation. "All we can do is endeavor/ to live by nothing bad can last for ever/ all our days." TL;DR Nothing gold can stay, but it's probably better to focus on the fact that the bad days can't stay either.

Blue Ranking: 4/5

Song: 13. Wake Up

What It Sounds Like: "The Circle of Life" meets "The Neverending Story" theme.

Favorite Lyric: "Would it change a thing to learn that you’re not real?"

My Interpretation:  The lyrics start out making you think that maybe the main character is just separated from his love by physical distance--"When you're not with me you're still always on my mind/ And you feel so close even when we're far apart." Maybe she's just away on a trip? But then you get lines like "Wherever you are" and "Every night I'm waiting just to learn your name" that make it clear that he hasn't actually met her yet. He's spending his time dreaming up this perfect girl that may or may not actually exist in real life, and it's both hopeful and depressing. "Why do you keep me waiting/When you know how I feel" suggests a belief that he has a soulmate out there who is dreaming of him in the exact same way, just two people separated by circumstance who are waiting for the moment where fate brings them together.

But then there's the saddest line of all: "Would it change a thing/To learn that you’re not real/." It makes me think of the way some people view religion as this empty emotional crutch, just a thing you choose to blindly believe in without proof because it's easier to do life if you have something good to believe in. That's not my belief, but I can understand the perspective and I think that's exactly how he's treating this dream girl. He's choosing to believe she exists and that one day they will be together, and it leaves us with a final question: Does it even matter if she's real as long as the idea of her existence keeps giving him hope and making him happy?

TL;DR: "Wake Up" is "Dream Girl" reimagined with a mild existential crisis.

Update June 1st: My mind is blown right now. Some fabulous anon in the comments bulldozed my theory with a single insightful sentence, and I'm kicking myself for not seeing it. I'm not going to alter my above interpretation because I do think it still fits and I don't want to take credit for a perspective that went right over my head, but please check out the comments section below for an alternate take that I think is probably right. 

Blue Ranking: 2/5

Song: 14. Don't Let Me Down

What It Sounds Like: Zac Hanson was tasked with writing "Eye of the Tiger" in 2022

Favorite Lyric: "No one can stop you until you decide that you're done"

My Interpretation: I don't need an interpretation because Zac has already told us that this song was written about the challenge of sitting down and tackling this album concept. He knew he had to handle the pressure of creating something worthy of a world release and not letting himself or his brothers down, so he wrote a song about just that. I know I already called "Child at Heart" an inner pep talk, but where that one is more of a subtle reassurance, this inner voice is screaming at you in sweat bands while asking you to drop and give it 20. Welcome to Zac Hanson tells Zac Hanson not to let himself down. Jokes aside, it's a totally universal song that you can apply to any situation where you need motivation to complete something that you know you're capable of. #dogobe

Blue Ranking: 3/5

Song: 15. Where I Belong

What It Sounds Like: The opening and/or closing scene of a musical theatre production that I want front row tickets to.

Favorite lyric: "Somewhere under the rainbow far away"

RGB Misheard Lyric Runner-Up: 
What Zac said: So that I can trade bitter tears for honey (honey honey honey honey)
What I heard at the listening party: Yummy yummy yummy yummy. Cue instant Edible Digital Pants flashbacks. And The Wiggles.

My interpretation: This is the most trippy theatrical sounding song Hanson has ever produced, and I love it for that. It has a longing to belong and find your place in the world, but I also see bits and pieces of religion in it as well, though much more subtle than in the Green segment. Think "E.T. phone home" but where E.T. is a prodigal son and "home" is definitely celestial, but we're not talking about another planet. My strongest argument for this interpretation is the line "Take me from this place/ So that I can trade bitter tears for honey (honey)." I'm not saying he's asking to be swept away in a chariot of fire straight up to heaven, but Biblically, the promised land is described as a land of milk and "honey," and I've already expressed my opinion that Isaac's "gift of tears" is actually the gift of salvation, so combine them into a single line and recurring images of weeping, and I feel decently convinced that this song can be read as a desperate prayer for deliverance from feeling lost in the world.

Despite having said that I'm not saying it's about wanting to go straight up to heaven...the very end of the song has me rethinking that statement. The final lines are so incredibly heavy:

And I weep
Hoping someone will hear me call
From where I belong
And take me

There is so much pain in that statement, and if he's hoping that someone from where he belongs (aka heaven) hears him calling, I can't hear it as anything but a cry out to God to be taken "home." In some ways it's a little like "MMMBop" in that among images of rainbows and happy sounds there's actually a deeply depressing undertone. 

Blue Ranking: 1/5

P.S. For what it's worth, I changed every Blue ranking at least once and almost caved and just ranked them all as 3/5 for lack of a better solution. I am not built to pick favorites unless it comes to choosing a favorite band. I've got that one covered.

May 23, 2022

Hanson Day 2022

I'm not sure how cutting out Hop Jam left me feeling busier than ever, but maybe two years off from a traditional Hanson Day just has me out of practice. HDay 2022 was back in full swing with all of the in-person events that have been missed in Tulsa since 2019 as well as keeping plenty of virtual content for those enjoying from home. See Exhibit A below. There's no free space on this bingo card.

For me, the event kicked off with the HTP live event which was Hanson's first time recording a podcast in front of a live audience. I suspect that a regular HTP episode must have a lot more outtakes and editing, but they did all of this one in one take. There was a live trivia game where both contestants hilariously ended up coming up wearing overalls and butterfly clips (thanks, 90s Karaoke!), and there were two reporters who shared the interview instead of just one. They did a great job with their questions and everything ran smoothly. The one quote that stuck in my mind from the whole thing was at the end when they somehow got on the topic of Zac and Taylor skydiving during the "I Was Born" era, and Isaac's perfectly-timed comedic input was "And I said to them, 'Well, someone needs to be alive." Good looking out, Isaac. Keep those royalties safe.

We also learned that the accessory equivalent of their pessimist/optimist/realist makeup is fannypack/murse/chain wallet if you've ever needed that mental image.

Karaoke was a blast as usual and I thought the 90s theme was particularly fun with all of the themed outfits that showed up. One of the best moments of the night had to be the woman that absolutely SLAYED "Shoop." Isaac joined her on stage but mostly just watched in awe like the rest of us. Rumor has it she was part of a group that showed up at doors and randomly bought a membership just because karaoke sounded fun; they weren't even there for Hanson (if you're reading this, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, elaborate, tell us how you got to be so awesome, etc.). Imagine leaving a bar with your friends just wandering around looking for the next good time on your Thursday evening only to randomly wind up schooling Isaac Hanson on "Shoop." It's the kind of story that will leave people asking exactly how much you had to drink last night and begging for video evidence. Thankfully, there's plenty.

The next morning I showed up in pouring rain for the first RGB Listening Party. In theory, there's something special about being in a room with the first people to ever hear a new album in full. In practice, people talked too much and there was way too much bass for no reason. Maybe it was partly due to where I chose to sit (on a bench built into the wall rather than in a free-standing chair), but feeling my entire body jiggling in rhythm to the bass on "Write You A Song" of all songs is not an experience I needed. My biggest takeaway was that even without hearing all that well, I could tell that "Rambling Heart" was going to be lyrical gold, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on the album in a quiet room with lyrics in hand. I wrote exactly four notes on a sheet of paper in the dark before I gave up because the visibility was even worse than the sound. They were:

"Wherever I goe is my home sweet home" (yes, I spelled "go" wrong. It was dark and loud.)
Track 3 = Taylor as Isaac
5. George Michael
Zac song 4? 5? = "In My Room" vibes

I'll save further RGB thoughts for a future post when I've had the album for longer than 30 seconds.

Bowling was fun but doesn't really make good blog material, and the same usually goes for the Dance Party, but this one warrants a few sentences. We actually got two dance parties...sort of. A technical glitch shortly into his DJ set had Taylor sending us to bed early Friday night with promises of a redo following the concert on Saturday. People took the decades theme seriously and I loved seeing everything from 60s flower crowns to Britney Spears and Ginger Spice costumes in the crowd. I went for 90s and got told I looked like I walked out of a Babysitters' Club book, which is honestly the highest form of praise 90s me could have ever hoped for while living out her best life at a party hosted by Taylor Hanson. Dream big, kids. You never know whose hometown nostalgia party you'll wind up at in 25 years cosplaying your former self.

The side events were fun, but let's talk about the real reason we all go back every year: the concerts. We were told at some point before the event that the Hanson Day Concert would be the first official show of the Red Green Blue tour. It was surprisingly more geared towards singles and a journey through Hanson's career than it felt focused on RGB or Against The World. It was a lot of fun and felt more like a "real" concert with big energy after the calmer acoustic set from Storytellers, but I think Zac(?) was right when he made a comment during HTP about how the setlist might feel similar to the MOE tour concept. It hit on each album including String Theory with Taylor's "Reaching For The Sky" solo and only included a few songs from RGB and ATW. Only time will tell if this was representative of a standard setlist for this tour or if they were holding back a bit since the album still wasn't released at the time. The best similarity to the MOE tour, though? It was satisfyingly long and felt like it was never going to end. (P.S. "Don't Let Me Down" live is great, even without the shorts and muscles. Or maybe BECAUSE it's without the shorts and muscles 😛.)

If you were there or followed along online, you probably already know why I've saved the Storytellers part for last. The setlist was amazing even without the one showstopper this is leading up to. "Stories" always gives me heart eyes, "Tonight" is one of my favorite Hanson songs period, "Watershed" was totally random and has only been played once at BTTI in 2014, and I haven't heard "Money" in 14 years. You can check out the setlist on Hansonstage for a list of 20 reasons to experience FOMO, and the reason at the top of that list is the one song I never though I'd hear them play. That's right, they played BOOMERANG. 

If you've been in this fan base for more than five minutes, you know that we are a group hungry for rares. For better or for worse, if you give us a choice, we are going to pick the song we have never heard over the song we actually like. What I mean to say--as politely as possible--is that while I am all for diversifying setlists and growing my own catalogue of heard songs, sometimes the rare choice is not the best musical choice. Thrown into a regular show, "bing bang, you hit me like a boomerang" is likely to set off about 40 fangirl screams of recognition and 700 "WTF is this, I'm going to the bar"s. But this was not a regular show, and we were all glued to what was unfolding in front of us. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I knew the story, that "MMMBop" was born out of "Boomerang," but I never expected to hear the way those puzzle pieces fit together. I always thought if I heard it live, there'd be a certain level of cringe, but it was actually really good. The harmonies were tight, the melding with the "MMMBop" chorus was really cool to hear, and Taylor delivered the line "I've seen girls of all shapes and sizes, but baby since I met you, you're the only one for me" like a 39-year-old straight-faced hero. Move aside, 90s nostalgia costumes, because Taylor Hanson owned the best throwback of the week.

I don't have any great outtakes or anecdotes to end this post with. Somehow, all my flights were on time, I didn't wind up in any petty line arguments, and nobody pulled me on stage or awarded me any trophies. None of my friends experienced a diva moment and rushed the stage at the end of karaoke, and I definitely didn't spontaneously extend my stay by a day only to come home with track 12 from The Walk. (we're playing three truths and two lies, here, btw)

The climax of the trip was Boomerang, which is ironic considering we were there to celebrate a brand new album and not a 27-year-old one, but what can I say? We recognize epic when we see it, and I promise to write a post just as enthusiastic as this one if they make me wait another three decades to hear "Where We Belong" for the first time. With a new tour coming up, I really hope they don't.