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. ❤💚💙

No comments: