Last Thursday, my wife and I headed out to House of Blues with our friend Natalie to fulfill the deepest desire of my 11-year-old self and see Hanson live in concert. Here are a few things I learned along the way.
1. Hanson is legit and my love for them is justified.
Before attending the concert, I joked that the 11-year-old version of me was super excited, but my 27-year-old self was meh. This was probably true until the first song. Immediately, 27-year-old me was super stoked to sing along at the top of my lungs, haters be damned.
I distinctly remember watching VH1’s I Love the 90’s and seeing Anthrax’s Scott Ian refuse to make fun of Hanson, because they played their own instruments and wrote their own songs. It’s true; Hanson is legit. Middle of Nowhere was their THIRD studio album and they haven’t really slowed down since then releasing eight more albums (including their Christmas album). You can say Middle of Nowhere sounds like it was written by young teenagers, but the fact is it was. And sure some of the lyrics are corny, but the music is just as catchy as it was 16 years ago. Their stuff has matured a bit since then, but there was nothing like the energy when they sang those original songs.
2. Their hair has gotten better.
Probably their most defining feature in the 90’s was their long blonde hair. They looked a bit like girls, but we loved them anyway.
All are now mature men (with multiple children each) and have nicely styled haircuts. However, the best hair on stage is not a Hanson brother at all, but the unrelated bass player. He had a huge amount of hair that looked like the love child of River Song and Bozo the Clown. It’s amazing.
3. They switch instruments!
At one point they came back from a break and Taylor got on the drums, while Zac sat down at the keyboard. I thought they were just messing around, but much to my surprise they were actually just as talented as on their original instruments. Sadly, Isaac didn’t get in on the fun, preferring to stick to the guitar.
4. They dress like hipsters.
I was astounded by the sheer number of vests on the stage. They most definitely now dress like hipsters, which is much better than some of their 90’s outfits. Also, Taylor got super sweaty probably because of his 17 layers. At one point he flipped his hair and there was an intense spray of sweat. Disgusting.
5. Opening acts should be limited to 30 minutes.
This probably ties into the next two entries, but the bottom line is opening acts should be limited to 30 minutes. Paul MacDonald opened for Hanson and I only know his name because I just looked it up. We referred to him as Old McDonald while he was singing and after, because we didn’t know who the heck he was. In my personal opinion, he should have sung some covers mixed with his original stuff. People on a whole are not there to see the opening act, I don’t think anyone knew a Paul MacDonald song much less his “old classics”. At almost an hour his set was way too long and I think he could feel that he had lost the audience.
6. I’m old.
I fully admit that number 5 may have been influenced by this one, as are a couple below, but turns out I’m old. I was super disappointed the concert was starting at 9:15 (actual start around 9:30). I thought for sure that the show was at 7:00. Turns out that’s when they open the doors. Don’t they know I have work in the morning?! It’s a Thursday.
7. I should have paid double for the seated tickets.
This sort of goes hand in hand with the above, but we got there around 6:30 and stood until the end of the concert around 11:30. While I was fine, I probably should have paid the extra money to relax a bit more. Luckily, I was able to go right to bed when I got home.
8. General Admission is best for people with no concept of personal space.
Being a GA concert in New Orleans, we were surrounded by a lot of drunk people. Most people were there around 7:00, the bar was easily accessible and the drinks were cheap. In our immediate vicinity there were three particularly annoying people. First, there was Hair, a tall skinny 20-year-old in a tank top with incredibly long straight hair that she likely hadn’t washed in at least three days. What made her annoying was her insistence on flipping it on first me then my wife. Firstly, it’s a concert, it’s hot, wear your hair in a ponytail. Secondly, if you decide not to wear your hair in a ponytail then at least be aware of your surroundings so that you aren’t constantly touching people with your nasty-ass hair. Thirdly, she had a tattoo on her shoulder blade that read, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”
Next, there was Jesus Girl. She was in front of us in line and I knew from the get go that she was going to be a problem. As we were waiting to go in, she downed two hand grenades and then giggled to her friend that she was so drunk. Well, of course you are little Jesus Girl, you just downed two of New Orleans’ strongest drinks. Despite the fact that she had seen Hanson in several venues across the country, she failed to pick up her ticket at Will Call, holding up the line as she argued with the ticket taker about not having a ticket. Luckily for her, her friend did have a ticket and was able to go in and find them a spot while she went to pick hers up Unfortunately for us, that spot was right behind us. As we were waiting for Hanson to come on she kept talking loudly about how she had been to see Hanson several times, but had never really seen them because she was so short. All the while making awkward eye contact with me. The band came on and she immediately began freaking out – crying and throwing her hand in the air as if praising the Lord. Obviously, she was so into praising Hanson with her gospel hand that she didn’t notice the fact that she was continually hitting us in the head. About three songs in, I came up with the genius idea to invite her to get in front of us directly behind Hair. For the four songs that she stayed there, it was glorious. At one point she actually put her hand on Hair’s head and just left it there. I’ve never seen a person so blissfully entranced that she could actually leave her hand on a stranger’s head for half a song without realizing it. Sadly, my plan’s tragic flaw was her devotion to the friend she came with. She kept turning around and reaching for her friend, who you may remember was behind us. Her friend was taller than my wife and, though I certainly respect and value friendship, I sure as hell wasn’t going to let my wife’s view be blocked simply so Jesus Girl could experience the concert with her friend. During a break, she returned to her friend behind us and we fell back into where we were originally standing thus blocking her from returning.
Then there was Pixie Cut. Pixie Cut showed up late to the party with a large group, who promptly pushed their way forward. That was slightly annoying, but whatever. If you have the balls to do it, I can’t really fault you. I’m not an aggressive person and you’re going to win every time. Where she really crossed the line for me was similar to my problem with Jesus Girl. She was a bit more ball-sy then her other friends, pushing forward and in front of us. She then proceeded to constantly reach back for her friends. If you want to be with your friends, just STAY BACK WITH YOUR FRIENDS!
9. You can’t do three ballads in a row.
During the concert, each of the boys got a solo moment seemingly ordered in terms of popularity (Isaac, Zac, Taylor). Unfortunately, each chose to sing a ballad. And by Taylor, no matter how popular he is, the audience was lost. Come on now boys, read your audience! These people have been drinking for at least two hours at this point. Don’t put them to sleep!
10. Popularity with lesbians.
Looking around at the audience, there were quite a large number of lesbians. I think this might have to do with how girl-ish the boys looked in their youth, especially Taylor. For lesbians of a certain age, Hanson rose to popularity right around the time they were first starting to become attracted to people. Taylor Hanson was the perfect crush beard. They were likely actually sort of attracted to him, because let’s face it – he was pretty, but he was the right gender as not to arouse suspicion! It was the perfect situation and, in my opinion, probably the reason Hanson is beloved by quite a few millennial lesbians.
11. They need to re-record all of Middle of Nowhere with their post pubescent voices.
Sadly, Hurricane Katrina ate my original Middle of Nowhere cd, but after the concert I immediately bought some of their classic songs from a random live album from 2005. But what I really wanted was a studio re-do of all of Middle of Nowhere. I would buy the shit out of that.