On October 19, 2011, I had the pleasure of seeing Hanson perform at The State Theatre in Falls Church, VA. his concert was a part of their Musical Ride Tour, an ambitious undertaking where they allow their fans to vote and create the set-list. Hanson fans everywhere had the gracious-but-intimidating job of choosing from a collection of songs that span five albums and nearly fifteen years of work. However, the fans knew what they were doing, as each song proved to be more entertaining than the last.
The crowd was mostly made up of women in their mid-twenties, who, like me, spent their tween years with Hanson posters tacked onto every inch of their walls. While nostalgia is very much a part of the draw when it comes to a Hanson concert, their music has also grown and matured over the years, and earned a respectable place in the alternative music genre. They have successfully created a collective balance between upbeat music that you can dance to, and smooth, deep melodies. Simply put, if you haven’t heard any Hanson songs since their “MMMBop” years, then you are missing out.
The night began with Hanson’s opening act, Charlie Mars. When he asked how the crowd was doing, someone cheekily shouted, “Where’s Hanson?!” to which he paused before cleverly replying, “Sometimes I feel the same way.” He then lost some of his charm when he introduced each of his songs with the line, “so, I was really high this one night…” I wasn’t really disappointed, but I also would not be able to recall any of his song titles if my life depended on it.
The already restless and excited crowd reached the point of hysteria when Hanson stepped onstage. Taylor thanked everyone for coming with a genuine, warm smile, and they then took off their show with the lively “A Minute Without You.” Isaac played a variety of guitars, with Zac on the drums, and Taylor switching between the piano, guitar, and tambourines…sometimes playing two instruments at the same time.
The beginning of the set list included upbeat crowd favorites such as “Dancing in the Wind,” “Get Up and Go,” and “Crazy Beautiful,” while the audience danced and sang along in the aisle. The sound quality was absolutely fantastic; while some bands sound sloppy in live performances, Hanson was polished, clear, and easy to understand. The majority of the audience grew up with Hanson, and because of this, there was a palpable sense of closeness and mutual respect, not only between the brothers and their fans, but also amongst the fans themselves. A memorable moment came when the entire crowd raised their arms in the air and clapped their hands together— and from the balcony, I got to look down at a sea of people moving together to the same rhythm, which was a wonderful sight, especially when Taylor started to teasingly strike the piano at a rapid clip, making them clap faster.
After a number of energetic songs, it was time to soften the mood with a selection of ballads and slower melodies. After Isaac took the lead in “Deeper,” the spotlight narrowed on Zac, who performed “Misery.” A particularly beautiful rendition of “Underneath” let the brothers show off their stunning voices, and then Zac, who told the audience to “enjoy the mellowness before we continue to roooooock,” was left alone onstage to perform the heartbreaking and poignant “Broken Angel,” one of my own personal favorites. This was smartly followed by the edgier “Hand In Hand,” which pulled the audience back onto their feet without being too brash.
Thunderous roars shook the audience as Hanson started to play “Thinking Of You,” another song from their first and most widely known album, Middle Of Nowhere. When they played “Where’s The Love?” the ecstatic audience made the very foundation quake, and could probably be felt a block away. Taylor took his moment to yell into the audience, “there’s a whole lot of love in this room tonight!” They rounded out the night with catchy titles such as “Penny and Me,” “Lost Without Each Other,” “If Only,” and then the encore “Hey.” After playing for over two hours, they didn’t show a lack of energy as they enthusiastically thanked the audience for coming out to see them.
So, the question you’re all wondering: did they play the infamous “MMMBop”? Of course they did, and it was met with shill screams that threatened to bust my eardrums. I knew they wouldn’t let us down.
Hanson performed on October 19th at The State Theatre, 220 N. Washington Street, Falls Church, VA. View upcoming events at The State Theatre.
View the remaining dates and locations of Hanson’s Musical Ride Tour.