When the Paste multimedia brigade arrived to catch Hanson’s soundcheck at the Variety Playhouse yesterday afternoon, a crowd of twenty or thirty young women were already gathered on the sidewalk in front of the venue. Some were reclining in folding lawn chairs; others were leaning against the building, soaking up the late-afternoon sunlight, settling in for the long haul and shooting us pointed glances as we slipped through the doors that wouldn’t technically open for another four hours.
Inside the empty venue, the house lights were all up, band gear was strewn across the floor where hundreds of fans would later gather in fervent droves, and some non-fraternal bandmates were jamming to a thick, funky bassline and intermittent bursts of jokey synth-sax on stage. The brothers emerged (more friendly and less blonde than expected), hands were shaken (one tiny victory for my twelve-year-old self!) and the strange fiddly, tweaky process of sound-check began. There was some issue with a keyboard (it was turned off) but once that was fixed (solution: turn it on), we caught the guys playing a new track, “Follow Your Lead,” plus “Great Divide,” from 2006’s The Walk.
As we were wrapping up, a slew of women (plus two guys– we counted) were being escorted into the middle rows for a photograph of all the participants in a one-mile barefoot walk the band had sponsored that afternoon in Atlanta. Turns out, they host one at almost every tour stop to raise awareness for global poverty, education and AIDS initiatives. Whatever you once thought of “MMMBop,” you’ve got to applaud a band for using its clout for such serious good.
Outside, the line was longer than I’d ever seen for any other Variety show, spooling well down the block with three hours to go. We couldn’t make it out to the show, but we’ll be sharing our sound-check footage with you this week. Our footage of their second take of “Follow Your Lead” is live for your enjoyment today, with “The Great Divide” coming soon.