Written By: Darwin Green
Photos By: Susana Capra
11/7/09 – I can’t remember now which other artist the guy at the box office mentioned when asking if I was picking up tickets for her or Hanson, but I do remember leaning close to the window, and, careful so that nobody else would hear, I said, “Hanson.”
He pointed across the courtyard. “Just go to the escalators and go up to the third floor.”
Now, someone else knew I was picking up tickets for Hanson, one of the most estrogen-soaked bands of the nineties. Hanson, who made “Mmmbop.” Hanson, the band all my friends made fun of and still make fun of to this day.
I found my way into the venue. That whole area reminds one of something out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and sometimes, when it comes to architecture or design, looks don’t always equate to functionality or the ability to find places easily. Needless to say, the inside of the venue looked as futuristic as its outside.
Sherwood started the set with an amazing, pumped-up performance. They seemed ready to envelope the whole world and everybody in the room with their sweetness and gentle gratitude towards the fans, the record label, their friend who has cancer, and anyone willing to donate money to said friend. The music itself made one feel as though teenage pop could make one feel so happy that one would only need to listen to the music instead of taking any kind of drug for the same reaction. It was the equivalent of spending a half-hour in a hot, euphoric, saccharine infused bath, letting go of the whole world in the process. (Check out our review of Sherwood’s new album, QU ).
Steel Train rolled through like, well, a New Jersey locomotive, hearkening to a place of supreme confidence where Bruce Springsteen roamed the streets and smelled the steam in the air.
HelloGoodbye performed next. While having a similar effect as Sherwood in terms of music, their sardonic banter between songs only brought down any effect sustained while listening to the songs. They would break into silliness for long periods of time, blurring the line between a bad stand-up act and great music.
But then Hanson came on, and it wasn’t long before the cheers from the female members of the audience reached such a pitch that it felt like being next to a jet engine as it spins into life. The band trotted onstage and immediately jumped into a bluesy, rock-filled song, completely unlike anything one would ever expect from Hanson. They did it again, and again, and again, and one felt all the years of belittling Hanson suddenly crumbling away into praise, respect, and admiration. The audience consisted mainly of teenage girls, but the music seemed made for guys. It had a country, folksy bent to it a la Darius Rucker while he was in Hooty and the Blowfish, but the guitar often launched into pure rock, blues, and funk, far from the sugary pop one came to define Hanson as back in the nineties.
They still carried some instances of the Jackson 5, but it blended well with their other material. At one point they brought out acoustic guitars and sang together with harmonies that would have made bands like the Eagles come back for comeuppance. It was surely a surprise for anyone only familiar with “Mmmbop,” to hear Hanson taking on country and folk influences, although they played “Mmmbop” for the fans. At that point, it didn’t matter. Hanson gained my respect at that point and I realized that any pop they do, or have done, is pop perfection.
All in all there was never a lack of energy on their part, and it translated to the audience well. Few people sat down, most people had their hands in the air when the band called for it, and most everyone clapped in rhythm and sang at some point.
I am now one of the initiated males who will say, from now on in a proud voice, “Yes please, one for Hanson.”