SXSW: Hanson Report (No, Not Beck Hansen, Those Oklahoma Kids)
AUSTIN - On a day when I stood 10 feet away from a stage that hosted Mika Miko, Jay Reatard and Times New Viking, the loudest moment was when the following was shouted directly into my ear:
"OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO WHOLESOME AND POLITE!!!!"
Rest assured, the young woman who shouted that was not referring to any of the bands mentioned above. She was talking about Hanson.
Yes, I went to see Hanson. And I'm glad I did. It was quite a learning experience. And it wasn't a bad show, either. And after the triple-decker sandwich of awesomeness that was the three other bands mentioned above, I didn't feel much pressure to see something amazing. It was a bit weird to see such young guys -- oldest brother Isaac is just 27 -- who are such seasoned professionals. They exude confidence and comfort on stage, clearly the result of spending more than half their lives performing. Sure, their songwriting isn't exactly adventurous, and the lack of "Mmmbop" in the set was certainly disappointing. But for 40 minutes they provided enough hooky, easygoing, soul-pop tunes to keep the casual observer plenty interested.
Not that the show was filled with just casual observers. The Hanson die-hards were definitely in the house. As might be expected, many of them were females who seemed to be in their early to mid-20s, which is about right when you remember that the band became huge in 1997 or so. Many fans sang along with every word, danced with each other and screamed when urged to scream. "I got so many great pictures!" one of them shrieked while filing out of the performance space in the Convention Center.
They weren't all blindly faithful, though. During one song a girl leaned over to tell me that the lyrics to that particularly song weren't so great and they could do much better. "Don't judge!" she pleaded. Uh, sure. When Taylor took time between songs to talk up some of the bands charitable efforts, including providing shoes for people in Africa, she was peeved. "Enough with the shoes, I'm sick of hearing about it at every show," she said.
One male fan in his late 20s proudly displayed his Hanson tattoo on his left bicep. "It's a way of life," he told me. He also told me that he was putting up some Hanson fans that he met on the Internet who came in from out of town specifically for the show. One of them also had a Hanson tattoo. I can only imagine the look on the tattoo artist's face when they went in to get inked. If there was a slight air of... I don't want to say indifference, but general mellowness at most of the shows I attended, that certainly wasn't the case for this one.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, middle brother could still be a fashion magazine model, either male or female. The kid's just purty, what can I say?
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