AKA: The One That Was F***ing Weird
Back on the Middle of Everywhere tour, I decided last minute to make the haul from the Grand Rapids, MI show to the next one in Minneapolis. One of my good Hanson friends lives there, and I knew other friends would be going, too. I ended up getting in town just long enough to go to the show, so I’ve been itching to go back and actually see the twin cities and properly cross Minnesota off my list of states I’ve visited. So when Hanson announced they were playing at Mystic Lake, I knew it was time to go back.
Just as I was leaving work on Thursday, Yelena told me she had a surprise: she got hooked up with front row tickets! We already had decent seats in the tiered back section, but I never expected this! I flew up after work and Yelena took me straight to Matt’s Bar for their famous Jucy Lucy: a burger with a cheese-stuffed patty, which turned out to be an absolutely delicious start to the trip.
On Friday, she took me out to the Sculpture Garden for the obligatory Cherry & Spoon photo, and then over to the Guthrie Theater which had great views of the city through some blue and yellow windows. After a trip to St. Paul for some fancy coffee at Cafe Astoria, we went back to Yelena’s to get ready for the show.
I always say Hanson concerts are weird, because you never know what might happen. Whether a tractor driving down the beach in the middle of the night, a child eat french fries in the front row, or Hanson’s offspring dressed as elves playing guitar tech for the night, crazy stuff just happens at these things.
So, here’s where things start to get weird this time. The dating app Hinge has a prompt you can put on your profile that says “Try to guess this about me…” and Yelena filled hers out with “which band have I seen live almost 100 times?” That morning, a guy commented on it and eerily said “as long as it’s not Hanson, we’re good.” So of course they started chatting, and it turns out he had been working at their concert at the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis this summer and had a bad experience with a fan who was there. (Plot twist: Yelena volunteers with BBP and had worked there with this guy a few years back!)
After chatting with him for awhile, she told him she had an extra ticket to the show (thanks to our new front row spots) and that he should come… and he did! While they didn’t sit together for the show, the other girls and I ended up semi-“chaperoning” them on some sort of first date post-show at the casino food court. You really can’t make this stuff up.
People always ask me why I travel to see “the same concert” over and over, and I always tell them it’s never the same show. This is true, however, the one-off shows like these when they aren’t technically touring tend to all have a very similar set list. I have no problem with this, as it makes for its own sense of excitement for the familiar the same way other people travel to the same beach or family cabin every summer. But this time they surprised us all by pulling out a song from their first album that doesn’t get played live much anymore, appropriately titled “Weird”. But this turned into a new version of the song when Taylor decided to drop the F-Bomb at the end: after all, “we all get a little bit f***ing weird sometimes”. So there are weird things number two and three.
If you aren’t a fan, or haven’t been keeping up with recent Hanson news, a few weeks back Zac had a motorcycle accident and broke three ribs, his collar bone, and his scapula. Banned from drumming, he’s been at the last few shows with his arm in a sling and his trusty cowbell. Just before this show, he was doctor-approved to be out of the sling, however he’s still not ready to drum, so we had one last chance to catch him up front and center instead of at the back of the stage behind his drum set. A unique experience for Zac and fans alike makes for weird thing number four.
Usually at a Hanson concert, the first few rows of fans are full of the high-energy “die-hards”. But this time, some of the people who own the land and some casino employees had tickets in the seats around us… people who may have never see Hanson before and probably barely remember who they even are. With several people sitting during the show while we were dancing up front, and a row of chairs behind us instead of fans trying to squeeze in, I present to you weird thing number five. This almost felt more like a private show for the cluster of friends around me. There was also a section of carpet between the stage and our seats, but security wouldn’t let us off the tile part of the floor, (apparently the carpet is hot lava after all), so we had to stand back a couple feet away from the stage. Weird Thing #6.
If you’ve ever been to a concert in your life, you know it’s pretty common for bands and artists to “end the show” and the come back out for an encore. Hanson encores typically consist of one or two of their more rock songs, but for some reason this time they ended on a ballad (weird thing #7), and a rare one at that (weird thing #8): “Song To Sing”. Isaac was in his feels that night and introduced the song by saying something along the lines of how music brings us all together and there will always be a “song to sing” for whatever life throws our way. This song actually has an extra verse that did not make the recorded version, but rather was only printed inside the back cover of the This Time Around album. As rare as hearing this song live has become, getting to hear this extra verse live is even more rare, but they chose to sing it this time (weird thing #9). This might be one of my favorite Hanson verses of all time:
“Don’t wander through this glassy surface expecting to find more than me, ‘cause what am I without a purpose but a lone mirage to see?”
Saturday morning we said goodbye to our friends who had to head back to Wisconsin, and Yelena and I went back to her place to sleep off what had turned into a very long night. We then met up with our friend Lindsey for dinner (pho) and then drinks at a cidery called Sociable. I’m not huge on beers, but I do love ciders. I couldn’t make a decision (no one who knows me should be surprised by this) so I ended up with a flight and it turns out I made the right choice.
Lindsey and her husband work at a youth ice center in town and had early shifts on Sunday morning. They graciously offered for us to meet them down there for some rides on the Zamboni. #WhenInMinnesota, I guess. We had talked about doing this for a couple months and I had been telling everyone I was more exited about the Zamboni than I was Hanson, and it did not disappoint! Then, as punishment (jk) for making me take her to the butterfly wing mural in Nashville, I made Yelena take me to the Mall of America.
This summer, I was diagnosed with an inner-ear disorder called Ménière’s Disease, which causes episodes of tinnitus and hearing loss in one ear, dizziness, and vertigo. Between my head cold, the crazy patterns of the casino ceilings and floors, and the lights from the concert, I had been feeling off the whole weekend and even the Zamboni left me feeling a little dizzy. So I decided to play it safe and opted out of the amusement rides in the mall. But, I still wanted to go because it felt like the obligatory thing to say I did in Minneapolis.
As we walked by a set of doors, I noticed it had started snowing. The exact words that came out of my mouth were, “It’s snowing! Why are we inside?” and I ran out the doors like a small child. I’d like to thank the city of Minneapolis for ending my trip with such a magical experience.
Just like those few flakes of snow, sometimes the most special memories on these trips are the small moments that won’t mean much of anything to anyone who wasn’t there, whether that’s a sincere thank you when you least expect it, or the “nights up late by the fireplace”. After all, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and maybe that applies to casinos in Minnesota, too.