RGB Tour: Vancouver, Seattle, & Portland

August 24 – 30, 2022

Aside from the shows in and near my own city, these three shows were the first ones I knew I wanted to travel to on this tour. My friends and I had talked about seeing Hanson in the PNW for a few years now, and having been out there last summer with my mom, I couldn’t wait to go back. We knew we wanted a few extra days before and after the shows to sightsee, and when I looked at flights from Nashville, my best option was a flight to Seattle with a layover in Minneapolis. Since I was going to be in and around Minneapolis the weekend before for Hanson, and since the friend I was traveling with lives there, it made sense to just stay at her house after Winnipeg and fly direct to Seattle from there. As an add on bonus, I got to spend my day off between trips catching up with some friends who had moved from Nashville to St. Paul during the height of the pandemic, meaning I never had the chance to say goodbye.

Seattle part 1

We had an early morning flight out of Minneapolis, which means we landed in Seattle early enough to do some sight-seeing right away. Our first stop was the Starbucks Reserve Roastery as we were desperate for some caffeine. I got a flight with three different cold brews; the best one by far was a whiskey barrel-aged Guatemalan blend. After that, we wound our way through Pike’s Place Market and down to the infamous gum wall. We drove by Kerry Park as we heard it has great views of the city, but only 1/3 of us had enough energy left to make the hike up the hill, and spoiler, it wasn’t me. We made one last stop to see a giant bridge troll, then ended the day with a delicious seafood dinner overlooking the sunset and the bay.

Vancouver

The next day, we made the drive up to Vancouver where we spent the bulk of the day on a whale-watching cruise. We saw a total of five humpback whales! Most of the time they were pretty far from the boat. But, there was one point where everyone was on the port side of the boat watching a whale breach, except for my friend and I who were still sitting over on the starboard side of the boat. Suddenly, I heard a loud WHOOSH and looked over to see a whale blowing out its blowhole right next to the boat. It was absolutely unreal, and it was so loud I jumped. The cruise lasted a few hours and they took us around some islands where we also got to see some sea lions, and even just the view of the water, mountains, and the city were well worth the trip.

For the Vancouver show, we had all planned to spend the day of the show sightseeing and then to just show up at the venue whenever we were done, and we figured that way we could get a decent balcony spot. One of my friends went off on her own and went to see a famous suspension bridge, but I’m too afraid of heights for that, so my other friend and I did a hop-on hop-off tour. We got to see a lot of the city this way, and I’ve learned to appreciate these types of tours when time is short, although we never hopped off. We grabbed some delicious, fresh sushi that was way cheaper than any sushi I’ve had in the U.S., thanks to the currency difference. Then we rolled up to the venue around 4:30pm… and were somehow the first three fan club members in line. Front row Vancouver was not part of the plan, but I couldn’t say no when the opportunity presented itself! And as it turns out, the balcony wasn’t open anyway (or at least, there wasn’t anyone up there).

During our hop-on hop-off tour, we actually ended up driving by Hanson’s busses, which were parked on a different street than the venue. I noticed the name of the street was Seymour, and I joked that maybe Zac would be inspired and play “The Ballad of Seymour Better Times” as his solo. When he was handed a guitar on stage, I thought for sure I was right, but then he ended up playing “On and On”, which was a welcome surprise! Isaac played “For Your Love” as his solo, just like he had done at my last three shows (I’ll take it over “River” any day), and Taylor played “Truth” followed by a full-band “With A Little Help From My Friends”. The rest of the set list was pretty similar to most of the shows I had been on this tour, although it was about 4-5 songs shorter than most of them. That said, they still played 24 songs which is a solid set list! I managed to get a copy of the set list after the show and noticed that “Lost Without You” was on it, even though they didn’t play it. More on that later.

seattle part 2

With Seattle being a seated show, we were hoping to spend a little more time sight seeing before heading to the venue, but the sight we ended up seeing wasn’t what we expected. I didn’t write much about the travel aspect of our last leg, but crossing the border to and from Winnipeg was pretty uneventful. We crossed into Canada around 2am and were questioned about how we knew each other (Hanson) and why we were going to Canada (also Hanson), and then later laughed to ourselves at the idea of 11 Hanson passports rolling through an hour later. On the way back from Canada, we were asked to sing “MMMBop”. But other than that, smooth sailing.

Driving into Canada on the way to Vancouver was easy peasy; we were asked why we were there and that was it, although traffic was a little heavy so it took quite a big longer than having been the only car in Manitoba. But I’ve learned my lesson and now know to avoid taking I-5 into the U.S. on a Saturday. We sat in traffic at the border crossing for well over two hours. At one point while we were stopped, a guy jumped out of the van in the next lane and.. um… Dash(ed)… across all the lanes of cars to go pee in some bushes. Needless to say, come show time, we had a fit of giggles during one of The Grand Southern’s songs that included lyrics about puddles and drains.

The Seattle show started out strong with “Fired Up” which has been absent for too many of this tour’s shows. Zac played “Annalie” as his solo which was new for me on this tour, and then Isaac unexpectedly played “Write You A Song” as his solo. Taylor played “Rambling Heart” for his, and it’ll be awhile before I get tired of hearing it. But the highlight of the Seattle set list was that they did play “Lost Without You” this time, as a full band. To rewind to Winnipeg, my friend was reporter and quizzed the band on the least-played songs from each album, and it got brought up that “Lost Without You” was the least-played on Anthem. My friend also mentioned that she would be at the Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland shows, so props to the guys for having a good memory and pulling this song out a week later. Based on reactions on social media, it’s definitely a fan favorite that the band seems to have underrated. Another highlight? We often joke that Hanson has us bugged, but literally on the drive from Vancouver to Seattle, I mentioned that I was surprised they hadn’t played “I Don’t Want To Go Home” yet. Well, guess what happened in Seattle?

Portland

Knowing Portland was going to be our last show this tour, and thinking at the time that we’d want to do some pre-show sightseeing, my friend and I chose this show for our BTTI photo make-up. But between the drive from Seattle and taking our time getting ready, we ended up only having time to grab a casual dinner before the show. We were the only two islanders getting our meet and greet, so while we still got individual photos, we got to chat with the guys together. We mentioned that it was our last show on this tour, and Taylor asked how many we had done. My friend told him 11, and then I said “well, I did 15 because I did some without her” to which Taylor announced I was winning. It was quick, but sweet, and I’m glad I had the chance to say goodbye in a way.

If you’ve never been to the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, it turns out it’s a very weird venue. The venue is on the third floor of the building, and our m&g was on the second floor. When we were done, we had to wait on the second floor while the opener finished sound checking. More than once, we started getting anxious as it sounded like they had opened the door and all the fans were stampeding up the stairs. But, this wasn’t the case, and we later learned that these mysterious sounds are quite common, along with other unexplained happenings, leading people to believe it’s haunted. Given the name, it’s no surprise that it used to be a dance hall. The floor is purposefully springy, which made for some great jumping during “If Only”. The stage is tiny and round and shoved in a corner, and the door to back stage is actually behind a curtain next to the crowd, and the crowd was split in two: a drinking side and a non-drinking side, with a weird aisle down the middle.

The show itself was great, as it always is. They opened with “Can’t Stop”, which was surprising, but beyond that the set list was much like the rest of this tour. It was extra special getting to hear “Rambling Heart” from front row center on such a small, intimate stage. But from where we were, it felt like the crowd wasn’t really into the show. Some of our friends were down on the far Isaac side of the barricade and they were having a good time, but most of the rest of the front two rows were just standing still with their phones out the whole time. Our other friend who didn’t have a m&g was up in the balcony, and she said from there it looked like the crowd was having a great time! (And also, for the record, she said she felt a ghost in the elevator up to the balcony.)

The day after the show, we skipped Portland tourism in favor of driving up the coast. Our first stop was the Tillamook factory, where we got to see them package up so. much. cheese. We got free samples, then also ate lunch, which for me was fried cheese curds and mac and cheese. I love cheese the way most women love chocolate, so I was having a great time. We then drove up to Canon Beach and sat for awhile enjoying the view. Next, we made our way to Astoria where we toured a Goonies museum and stopped by Mikey’s house. The house is up on a hill, and they ask visitors to keep their cars off the driveway, but don’t mind people walking up. I imagine it would get old after awhile, but we actually caught the owner as she was checking her mail and she was so friendly.

Finally, we took the scenic route up through Washington, which meant driving over the longest truss bridge in North America. I cannot even begin to describe how gorgeous the views were, and the pictures don’t do it justice. We kept commenting that there was no way it was real. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to have ended both this trip and this tour as it confirmed what I’ve always known to be true: “every new road feels like right where I belong, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

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