Imagine running into a crush from your early childhood. He or she is all grown up and married, and balances out a successful career with a loving family. Though you don’t carry the same torch for your former love, just the sight of that person makes you remember why you fell for them all those years ago.
That’s exactly what happened to me Saturday night with three different childhood sweethearts. Kind of.
The brothers Hanson played what has now come to be their annual concert at Orlando’s House of Blues this past Saturday, October 24, a stop on their “Use Your Sole” tour. While I haven’t listened to their music in years, I was the token Hanson fan as a young girl growing up in Oklahoma, where they were also raised. There was no way I could miss this show because I never got to see them in concert as a kid, and I owed it to the little girl inside me. I didn’t expect greatness from a trio of 20-somethings who launched to stardom in their teenage years, and I was content with the idea that driving to Orlando to see Isaac, Zac and Taylor (pictured from left to right) would be nothing more than a stroll down memory lane.
That’s exactly where I was taken when the show began with one of their first hits, “Where’s the Love” from 1997’s Middle of Nowhere. The first minute or so of the song was sung minus instrument accompaniment, which was just as well since the surprisingly enormous crowd sang right along with them and were loud enough to drown out Taylor’s voice.
After that, I literally forgot that these were the kids that introduced the world to “MMMBop” over a dozen years ago.
Hanson spent nearly two hours playing songs that can only be described as folk-meets-country-meets-alternative-meets-classic rock, no doubt a blend of the eclectic mix of musical influences they listened to growing up. More recent songs like “The Great Divide,” from 2007’s The Walk, proved that the kids from Tulsa are no longer kids, and can write about their views on the state of the world without being irritatingly overly political.
The most impressive segment of the show was the acoustic set. It felt like I was at a stereotypical coffeehouse watching an up-and-coming band that is really all about the music. Hanson made the audience forget that they’ve been famous for as much as half of their lives, depending on the brother. Instead, they chatted about the state of their music, where they’re headed, and how glad they were to be performing. Their harmonies were beautiful, and without question, among the best I’ve ever heard in a live setting.
Hanson played to a full house, which only really surprised me because of the type of fans in the crowd. I expected a lot of girls like me — the Hanson fans from back in the day, the girls that had Tiger Beat posters hanging in their rooms and always chose all three brothers as potential husbands during a game of MASH. While I’m sure there were a good number of those there, the majority of people (people, not just girls) around me were the true believers, fans who didn’t ditch Hanson as soon as ‘NSYNC came onto the scene, and knew every record because they’d been listening to them for years.
And Hanson deserves that kind of following. They’ve managed to find a way to not stray too far from the sound that made them popular in the late ’90s while evolving their music so that they’re still worth listening to. Watching them live just goes to show that they are a real, salt-of-the-earth rock ‘n’ roll band. I think it’s safe to say that while they’d probably rather forget “MMMBop” ever happened, it secured them into the music scene and made them famous enough that they can now spend the rest of their careers making whatever kind of music they want to, and people will be happy to receive it.
Just like bumping into the aforementioned crush, seeing Hanson was a bittersweet experience because it made me realize how much I’ve been missing out over the years. I realize now that they are one of the very few musical groups that found a way to transcend their sound from youth to maturity, partially because they are as driven now as they were 13 years ago, but mostly because they are simply talented musicians. My lust for them has evolved into something a little more grown-up, too — pure reverence.
I will never again tolerate smack-talk about Hanson.
Where’s the Love
The Great Divide
Get Up and Go
Got a Hold on Me
Been There Before
World’s On Fire
Carry You There
Penny and Me
A Song to Sing
Oh! Darling (Beatles cover)
Waiting for This
A Minute Without You
Lost Without Each Other
Watch Over Me
Something Going Round
If Only exitlude