I’m a writer. Not by profession, but by nature. When something touches me in some way, my inclination is to write about it. I’ve written about Hanson and the way their music affects me a few times, but I’ve never tackled the subject of their tours specifically. It’s worth its own write up, because there is something inherently different in hearing a song you love through the medium of stereo speakers or headphones and in hearing it live with no buffer between their lungs and your ears.
But I would be lying if I led you to believe it’s about sound quality. It’s not. Sometimes the sound levels are so skewed and off-balance that I only know what they’re singing because I know each song by heart. Sometimes there’s one speaker in my face and another in my ear, and it’s all so loud that it starts to make my head pound. Sometimes someone forgets the lyrics and messes up an entire verse from my favorite song, or a guitar string breaks, or a mic loses signal. And more often than not, there are people screaming and drowning out the sweet music I traveled so far to hear, but it’s all part of the experience.
So I’ve effectively described what it’s like to see a live show—any live show—but that’s only part of my goal. For me, it’s more than just a show. Literally, it’s usually more like five, depending on the circumstances. To see Hanson live is to go on a mini-tour with people that feel the same way I do. It’s a vacation from all of the stress of your job, or your family, or your school work. It’s an excuse to forego makeup and healthy food and a good night’s rest and several social norms (such as the stigma that lies with dancing in streets, walking barefoot in public, and sleeping on sidewalks). Above all, it’s an opportunity to just let go and be. Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first), but there’s something so liberating and transcendent about standing in a room full of people who feel the same way I do, people I’d never cross paths with otherwise, and just letting go.
For me, it’s an opportunity to be something I’m normally not: uninhibited. I’m an adult, a college graduate, a professional with responsibilities and bills and worries, just like the majority of the population. I wake up, I dress conservatively, I smile, nod, explain things, and maintain composure throughout the day. I return home, I eat a modest meal, I plan, and I go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. But when tour time rolls around, I’m something entirely different. I wake up in the middle of the night and drive six hours to meet up with fellow fans. I wear ponytails and t-shirts and flip flops, and I laugh so hard that I snort. I take part in the most ridiculous conversations I’ve ever heard in my life regarding llamas, beef jerky, and stinky feet. I eat burritos and gas station hot dogs. I sing at the top of my lungs. I’m happy.
When I first started writing this, I intended it to be some kind of praise for Hanson’s music, but I realize it’s more than that. In fact, half of the things I love about tour so much aren’t even directly related to Hanson at all. It’s crazy how much can be built around a piece of music, but here I am, 20 shows, thousands of miles, and hundreds of hours later, completely taken away by these guys and what they unknowingly do for me. They give me an outlet to be something I’m not brave enough to be most of the time—my own, quirky, self. And that’s something worth chasing for the rest of my life.