July 13 – 20, 2022
I live in Nashville, so it was almost literally home base for this trio of shows. My house is pretty small, I had several friends coming in for the shows, and I have roommates I didn’t want to annoy, so we ended up getting an AirBNB for the week. Friday afternoon, we made our way to downtown Nashville, which is something I never do unless I’m seeing a musical or Hanson is in town. My friend collects stuffed bears from Hard Rock Cafes, so I dropped her off there and circled the block, which we all agreed was more than enough time spent downtown apart from dinner and the Ryman. We had booked tickets to do a self guided tour of the Ryman, because it has such a rich history and most of my friends had never been there before. If you ever get the chance to do the tour, I highly recommend it.
Just as we were about to leave to go to dinner, guess who walked out on stage? Hanson started filming something, we couldn’t quite hear what they were saying, but it looked like they were meeting with a Ryman representative and talking about the history of the venue. They ended with a little acapella of “This Time Around” which we were lucky enough to hear. Zac chatted with us for a little while, then they left to get ready for sound check just as the tour window time ended.
John Calvin Abney opened the show. I had never heard of him before, and to be quite frank I had reservations about him after learning he’s friends with Isaac. The last time we had a friend of Isaac open, it was way too country for my tastes. But I was pleasantly surprised. He was entertaining, and I was especially impressed when his guitar amp went out but he just rolled with it, holding his guitar up to the mic.
This wasn’t the first time Hanson played the Ryman, but with the exception of a 3-song set during a Blood:Water Mission benefit and a surprise appearance at a St. Jude benefit, they hadn’t played there since before I lived in Nashville. When I found out they were playing the Ryman rather than the usual Wildhorse Saloon, I was beyond excited. The fan club presale was a nightmare, but we eventually pulled front row balcony which is exactly what I was hoping we’d end up with. The set list was similar to the RGB preview show during Hanson Day, but getting to hear the songs in a much better venue than Cain’s was so much fun. Highlights include “Only Love”, “Been There Before” (a song I have always associated with living in Nashville), Paul McDonald joining for “Write You A Song”, and ending the show with an acapella “Change In My Life”.
The day of the Atlanta show felt more like three days. Day one: the drive. Day two: not getting murdered. Day three: the show.
I’ve camped out for Hanson on the sidewalks of downtown Chicago and New Orleans (I do not recommend the latter), I’ve showered in truck stops, and I’ve slept in my car in shady parking garages. I would do any of those again before I would ever be willing to stay at the hotel we booked. If you know anything about the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, those were the vibes. My friend who booked the hotel is very thorough about reading reviews, which we later learned must be edited by the hotel because there is no way she would have booked this one had she known.
We got off the interstate and immediately saw rows and rows of tents and hundreds of unhoused people milling about. Again, I’ve slept in some questionable areas before, and I have empathy for those facing homelessness, but this was a whole different level. I’ve also traveled through areas before that look unsafe but then get better the more you drive; this did not get better. We eventually turned a corner and, where we were told there was an overnight parking garage, there were only closed stores with the gates pulled down and graffiti everywhere. The hotel (The Historic Fairfield Inn & Suites Downtown Atlanta because I will name names as a warning to my readers) had paper in the windows, which was falling down. If you’re familiar with Atlanta, the Underground was right outside our hotel.
They did offer in-and-out valet parking – at $45 a night. For the record, the people working for the third-party valet company (LAZ) were the only polite people we encountered. When I told them as much, they thanked me and asked me to leave them a review, stating that the hotel typically throws them under the bus. I fully intend to review both the valet and the hotel. The valet then passed me a business card on which he had written the word “courage”, if that tells you anything.
The hotel staff on the other hand were the rudest customer service workers I’ve ever experienced. We showed up to the hotel at 3:30pm, my friend who booked the hotel was still stuck in traffic, but had put my name on the reservation knowing we’d get there first. I walked into the lobby – there was no air conditioning (and the outdoor temp was in the upper 90s). I said I was there to check in and I was curtly told “check in is not until 4:00”. Okay, fair, but I explained that with her platinum elite status, my friend had early check in. Again, I was told “no, we don’t have any rooms, check in is not until 4:00.” I further explained that the day prior my friend had checked in online ahead of time, and was rudely again told “we don’t do mobile check in, check in is at 4:00”. Finally, I asked if they could at least look up her name to see if it showed that she had already checked in, to which they simply replied “nope.” We eventually found a much better hotel in Midtown. It was another Marriott hotel, and after hearing our story, they only charged us to park one of our two cars, and they upgraded us to the largest hotel suite I think I’ve ever seen in person.
Way back in 2017, I attended the two Finally It’s Christmas shows in Chicago. During that weekend, I spent some time in the hotel room going through orientation to start a second Bachelor’s degree (Accounting). So it’s only fitting that fast forward to 2022 and my virtual commencement date was the same day of the Atlanta show. So I cheesed it up and donned my cap and gown for the show. Thanks to all the friends and strangers who wished me congratulations! Attending an online-only, self-paced school (WGU) felt very isolating in that I didn’t have classmates, so being able to celebrate my graduation amongst my people finally made all the effort feel real.
I expected the set list to be similar to the one in Nashville, and it was for the most part. I was hoping to hear “Rambling Heart” and thought it had a good chance since there’s a “hot-lanta” reference, but Taylor stuck with singing “Save Me” again instead. But the surprise of the night was when, after “You Never Know” (which was already unexpected), they started playing a cover of “Low Rider” which they mashed with “Ooh La La La”. It’s technically a public release since it is on Perennial, but I still never expected to hear any of those songs on this tour. (But I wouldn’t mind if “Nothing Like A Love Song” and “Young And Dumb” made a few appearances.)
After the show, we decided to wait out by the bus since we had a hotel and weren’t driving anywhere that night, I wanted pictures with Hanson in my cap and gown, and one of my friends hadn’t seen them since String Theory. Taylor didn’t come out since he had a long drive to St. Pete. (Is that man seriously driving that bus? Because this concerns me.) Isaac came out first, and when I said I graduated, he judgmentally asked, “recently?” I wasn’t sure if he was questioning the fact that most graduations are in May, or if it was a dig at my age, but I explained that yes, I graduated that day, and that it was my second Bachelor’s. He asked what both of my degrees were and then took a picture. When Zac came out, he was wearing one of those Hanson AF shirts so I said, “I’m graduated AF!” He laughed and also asked what my degrees were in, and when I said accounting, he replied, “smart!”
The next day, we visited the World of Coke museum. I have to admit I didn’t hate the Beverly, though I wouldn’t want a full glass of it. If you know, you know. A friend of ours lives in the suburbs, so on our way out of town we met up with her, her husband, and their kids for some ice cream at a food hall. I have to say, food halls are my new favorite trend; they’re perfect for traveling with people who have different tastes and appetites. Our last stop on the way back to Nashville was Buc-ee’s – none of us had ever been before. I somehow spent $60 on beaver nuggets, beef jerky, a brisket sandwich, and handful of other snacks.
Monday was a work from AirBNB day back in Nashville. One of my friends used to live in Nashville, and the one thing she wanted to do on her short visit here was go to Tailgate Brewery. I had never been before, but had been wanting to go for awhile, so I’m glad I finally got the chance. They have really good pizza (I’m a fan of the hot honey), and I got a flight of sours and ciders to try. The pineapple cider was my favorite of the bunch. They had trivia going, and we didn’t officially play but we all got most of the questions right, so maybe we should have. We eventually wound up at Target and Walmart for some last minute items for the Birmingham show – because tour isn’t really tour until you’ve been to Walmart late at night for something random.
We made a quick trip over to East Nashville in the morning to get a picture of a red, green, and blue Nashville mural, then headed back south. Two of my friends had never been to Alabama before, so we made sure to stop at the welcome center and take some pictures of the welcome sign and the rocket. Our first stop in Birmingham was for some good southern barbecue at Saw’s and I had my first taste of boiled peanuts – I’m a fan!
We drove around a little bit and saw Rickwood Field, the oldest professional baseball park in the U.S. It was built in 1910 and is still being used, though you can definitely see its age. We also stopped by a couple murals, including another one that was red, green, and blue. The show was on my friend’s birthday, so this was where she chose to have her BTTI make-up meet and greet, which meant we had to get to the venue a little early despite it being a seated show. She bought some party hats at Walmart for her photo, but the guys refused to wear them and instead just held them – first like normal, and then upside down like ice cream cones, per Taylor’s suggestion. Her photos turned out great as they were all feeling silly and had big smiles.
The set list surprises of the night were “And I Waited”, Taylor starting “Save Me” acapella standing front and center of the stage, and “Man From Milwaukee”. Unpopular opinion: while it was actually “Man From Milwaukee” and not “MMMBop” that convinced me to buy Middle of Nowhere in the first place, I think it’s time Hanson stop treating a bonus track like a single and start putting this one back into the vault for awhile. They also did two songs in the encore, ending with “In The City” which I was not at all expecting. It’s a great one to end on, and it made me extra happy to be up front in second row for this show, as opposed to the balconies we had been in for the previous two shows.
I don’t know what it is about Birmingham, but something in the water must bring out the crazy fans. My previous experience on the MOE tour was back before I started this blog, but I’ll let the other Holly’s words fill you in:
This year’s Birmingham bus experience wasn’t much different. While thankfully no one accidentally choked me, people were screaming ’97-style every time they saw a Hanson, and some girls were even crawling through shrubbery to get to Isaac. We didn’t stay out all night, but I think Isaac is the only one who came out. He had mentioned Zac probably wasn’t coming out, and we had assumed Taylor wasn’t either as they had a long drive again. A friend did manage to give Isaac a little gift she had bought them, and I briefly talked to him about how his voting system is flawed. He had been telling the crowd that we get to pick his single, and then asks people to cheer for either “Hand In Hand”, “Deeper”, or “River”, and “River has won each night.
Personally, I’d choose none of those songs as I’d much rather hear anything off the new album (particularly “Greener Pastures”, but any would do). We jokingly told him that he needs an electoral college with two representatives from each state. In seriousness, I asked him if he thinks the order of the songs affects the outcome, as people are likely to keep cheering louder with each song that’s mentioned. He firmly told me no, that people like to hear the older songs. I disagree and I think he just wants to be able to play his “I Only Wanna Be With You” cover, but he did end up skipping the vote and playing “Deeper” the next night in Raleigh, which I wasn’t there for.
While I was fortunate enough to attend most of the shows in Tulsa over the past couple years, as well as this year’s Back To The Island, I cannot express to you how good it felt to see shows on a regular tour again. That said, I don’t remember ever feeling this tired during tour in the past (and my Covid test was negative), and two of these shows were seated, I slept on zero sidewalks, and waited in line no longer than 2 hours before doors. Maybe it’s getting back into things in a post-pandemic world, maybe it’s because it was my first time traveling after having Covid in May, maybe it’s because we’re all 3 years older, or maybe I just need time to get my “road legs” back. But one thing still remains true: this easily overstimulated, highly sensitive introvert somehow can’t get enough.