December 6-11, 2019
Back in May, Hanson announced they were going to record two new albums this year, (for release in 2020 and 2021), and they hinted at the idea of debuting some of the new music this year. When all these one-off casino shows started popping up this summer and fall, with no new music in sight, I started to think the plan of previewing these new songs fell through.
But then, finally! In mid-September, Hanson announced a tour, aptly named The Wintry Mix Tour, that would include old favorites, Christmas songs, and NEW MUSIC! A quick look at the tour dates, and the decision of which stops I’d go to was easily made: I had never been to Austin, it fell on a weekend, I could catch a ride from there to Dallas and then down to New Orleans with a friend, and New Orleans has some of the best food in the world. I also knew I wanted to avoid anything in the north for fear that flights (or worse, shows) would be cancelled due to, well, actual wintry mixes.
One of the perks of choosing Austin was that I got to catch up with a good friend who moved to Texas a couple years ago. We met for BBQ at Salt Lick, and the food was good, but our conversation was nourishing. She’s one of those friends where we can pick back up right where we left off a month ago. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Austin for some more one-on-one Alison time.
After lunch, we went to see the state capitol building. As one should expect from Texas, it’s the biggest capitol in the country, including the nation’s capitol building. The grounds were beautiful, the temperature outside was perfect, and the views inside were dizzying. A break for caffeine was next on our list, with the plan to walk around South Congress for some shopping after. However, we had a so-tired-you-spit-your-coffee-out-laughing mishap, and ended up back in the hotel room to change clothes, and at that point decided to take the rest of the day slow.
If you follow me or any of my friends on social media, you might have seen that Yelena broke her wrist four hours before her flight to Austin. Thankfully the doctor gave her the go-ahead to continue the trip, but it’s a shame it didn’t happen early enough for her to buy a Zaccidents Happen sling for tour. Now that she was one-handed, she had to leave a few things back home since she wouldn’t be able to carry everything by herself through the airport. This meant we needed a quick run to WalMart while in Austin, and sure enough they were playing Hanson over the speakers.
We were really only in Dallas long enough to get in line and see the show, and we decided to show up right at show time in New Orleans so we could get some good cajun food. We went to The Gumbo Shop where I had a plate of shrimp creole, jambalaya, and my favorite, crawfish etouffee. We also, of course, had some post-show beignets from Cafe Du Mondte, and then I got a 2 hour nap before catching a 4am Uber to the airport, then it was back in Nashville and straight to work.
Sunday in Austin was the first show day, and I had successfully avoided spoilers. The first song up was “Finally, It’s Christmas”, which was a fitting start to a winter tour. The second song was a brand new one, “Don’t Ever Change” and I really hope this makes it to an album. It was catchy, but I couldn’t quite make out all the lyrics, but the ones I picked up on sound like this song will be quoted for years.
The fourth song in the set was one that in the past decade-ish has been reserved for encores, so there was some sort of Pavlovian “wait, are we already done?” response that was quite confusing. But the change-up was refreshing, and then we were back into some more Christmas tunes.
The acoustic set included new songs “Annalie”, reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia”, and “One”, a beautiful Zac piano ballad about sticking up for your partner and staying on the same side of the battle. (Or at least, that was my interpretation after one listen without being able to go back and digest the lyrics.) In Dallas and New Orleans, we had a different Zac solo called “Better Man”, which I enjoyed, but I think I liked “One” better. Only time will tell.
Without giving away the whole set list, or details of all the new songs, let me just say this: these shows were a blast, it was so great to have the mix of old, new, and Christmas, and the new songs have me anxiously awaiting Against The World and Black Mesa, and I’ll be really sad if none of these songs make the final cut.
I’ve probably said this before, but while the music and the shows are what takes me on these trips, what I bring back with me is all the special little moments along the way that I’ll never forget. Whether laughing at the ridiculous drunk girl next to me, a conversation with the band about a song that got me through a tough time, or those post-show beignets with a side of serendipity, a part of the open road will always stay in my heart.