My first Hanson concert was on April 29, 2008 at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey. I don’t think I’d ever been more excited to see a concert. I had no idea what to expect. I hoped that they would be good, that they would play some of their old school songs and not just their new material, and that they would play “Strong Enough to Break,” which is my favorite Hanson song.
When I got to the venue, I could not believe how many people were there! I didn’t have the chance to go on the walk with them that day because I was in school, but I saw a lot of people who did get to go. Once inside the venue, I remember being really annoyed that the opening act was taking so long because all I cared about was seeing Hanson.
Finally, the lights dimmed again and we saw the boys walk out on stage. The screaming was deafening! They opened up with “Great Divide” and I sang along in an echo of voices from the crowd. I couldn’t believe I was there, watching Hanson. It was surreal. Not only that, but it felt incredible to be a part of that crowd. I had never been a part of such a unifying event. Everyone there was just as thrilled as I was. Everyone knew all the words to the songs like I did.
I knew going in to see Hanson that there was a very good chance that they would not play “Strong Enough to Break,” as they have so many songs and they switch up the playlists every show a little bit. The playlists from previous shows from The Walk Tour that I’d seen online did not have that song listed.
Then, during the acoustic set, Taylor said something to the effect of: “We’re going to play the song that is the title of our documentary.” I actually was confused for a second; my brain froze. What was the title of it…? Then, they played the opening riffs of the song and I knew. I remembered. I was so inexplicably happy that they were playing my favorite song. Everything else melted away, and I was just one of many singing along to that beautiful song.
Hanson played so many songs that night. I knew the words to all of them, being a moderately obsessed fan. Everyone was so excited to hear songs from their new CD like “Been There Before,” “Blue Sky” and “Your Illusion,” as well as to hear old favorites like “Where’s the Love,” “A Minute Without You,” “If Only,” and, of course, “MMMBop.”
By the end of the show, I didn’t want to go home. I could have stayed there and listened to Hanson play all night. I’ve felt the same way after every single Hanson concert I’ve been to. I want them to play forever.
That first Hanson concert is the best concert I’ve ever been to. I didn’t really have any expectations, but if I did, they all would have been met. They played my favorite song, along with so many of their other amazing ones. They sound awesome live, and hearing them play songs acoustically feels so intimate. I don’t even have words to describe their energy; you just knew they were happy to be there with you. The feeling of being in a crowd that is just as excited and happy to be there as you are is unlike any other feeling. I’ve only ever felt that at Hanson concerts. You don’t quite understand what that means until you’ve been to a show and have been a part of a crowd like that.
The Starland Ballroom has become my favorite venue; I’ve had the the opportunity to see Hanson there again, this time on the Shout it Out tour, and they were just as good that time as the first. I hope every Hanson fan gets the chance to see them live and experience that feeling. It is something you will never forget. I know I never will.
-Victoria R., New Jersey
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