Instead of the typical Thursday ritual of a glass of red and some marathon of an outdated television show, I made the less cozy decision to venture on down to South Street to see a trio many probably have forgotten. I look up at the shiny white sign and the bold letters sit atop the Theater of Living Arts spelling out “Hanson.” Yes, that Hanson. Yes, they still perform. And no, Mmmbop is not their only song. But yes, 17 years later, they still perform it. Now that the repetitive questions are answered…
Six albums, a label catastrophe, countless tours, a birth of their own beer, and numerous haircuts later, they brought their poppy rocked band of brothers to our beautiful city on November 7th to a sold out crowd of millennials, nonetheless. The brood of once awkward, tinsel-mouthed teens are now the façade of a PTO meeting…with beer.
The deep yet dainty guitar riffs started the show with their latest album, Anthem’s opening track “Fired Up.” The reality wave surfed over the audience that the show had started and it was the cue for fangirl madness. How else do they follow that up but with their 1997 album’s opener, “Thinking of You”? I think their goal was to have the fans blow out our eardrums from the squeals of excitement. The squeals of grown women. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hop in place for that fan favorite.
After a few new, a few old – but nothing borrowed – and a few special tracks for their fan club, they dropped the electrics and picked up the acoustics. Every teenyboppers’ soul-melter. For anyone who truly appreciates music, this is where it gets down to the beating heart of the melodies. Isaac’s soul meshed with Taylor’s raggedly mesmerizing vocals perfectly, and by mixing in Zac’s piercing notes, Hanson harmonized in a very mature, comforting way. It’s not the pre-pubescent, innocent lah-dee-dah they are associated with.
The acoustic set-up granted a new, barely heard song, “On and On” which, though softly, seemed to be the high point for me. There was nothing but the wistful, gentle flow of the singing guitar strings and the perfectly meshed harmonizing vocals in a song about ruthless, unrelenting, real love. I’m still cleaning the remnants of melted Hanson fan off my shoes.
They went on a small stint of solo turns on the piano which brought the once pulsating room into a calmness. Isaac’s “More Than Anything,” was the most captivating of the three that night. A song written when he wasn’t even at the legal age to drive but sounded as fresh as a song right off the piano.
Once things settled a little too comfortably and the show reached stellar levels of mushy, the guys brought the energy back up. From their oldie, “A Minute Without You” that transcends the 90s pop rock era into a full-on Wack-A-Mole bouncing venue, to their flashy mobby fun tune, “Thinkin’ Bout Somethin’” they served up the perfect recipe for a genuinely good fangirl dance party.
Everything was rounded out in the end with the inevitable, “MMMBop,” and their latest single, “Get the Girl Back” as basically their metaphoric kiss goodnight. The most recent of their singles is something a little different for them. There’s cowbell and horns and jingling. It’s just one of those feel good songs to, literally, end the night on a high note.
They truly evolved into showmen, swapping instruments and switching leads with a very dancy middle brother hop, skip, and jumping at every corner of the stage. Their sound channels exactly what you would think when you hear the title of the newest album, Anthem. There are fists pumping, in your face lyrics, hard hits of the bass drum, and head banging. They brought the craft of fine, educated music to Philadelphia and will continue this on their world tour through the end of the year.
For more info on the band (and their BEER, MMMHops) visit Hanson.net