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”

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