Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hanson turns 10 at the Roxy

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2007 at 6:03 PM

taylor.jpg

MMMBOY: Hanson post-puberty

(photo by Vonnie Lee)

I have no problem admitting it: I love Hanson.

I’m not sure if it was the long hair, or the cheesy, catchy lyrics, but 10 years ago, when Middle of Nowhere hit stores and made the No. 1 slot on MTV’s original version of "TRL," I fell head over heels for the family boy band, plastering my bedroom with posters of Isaac, Taylor and Zac. I have since lost my copy of the album (the liner notes were cut up to make collages), but I never fully got over my first band crush.

Which is why I was unabashedly excited to find out Hanson was playing in Atlanta last week.

Hundreds of girls and a few reluctant boys crowded into the Roxy last Tuesday night for Hanson’s concert, a stop on The Walk Tour, promoting their latest album of the same name. The crowd, which ranged in age from a whopping 20 to 24, felt like a middle school reunion, all of us having had the same phenomenal Hanson experience. The room smelled strongly of incense wafting from the overcrowded bathrooms to the main floor. If I closed my eyes long enough, I was sure I had never left my poster-filled room.

“We’re going to take you back a few years,” said Isaac Hanson, the oldest of the brothers, receiving a round of ear-curdling shrieks. “Back to 1997 when we first met you.”

And they did. They played several songs off their first release, including “Where's the Love” and an acoustic version of “MMMBop.”

But even while singing lyrics like “Mmmbop, ba duda dop,” it was evident these brothers have grown up. The long hair has been traded in for deeper voices and all three of the boys are now married, two of them with kids. (In fact, Taylor’s wife, Georgia native Natalie Bryant, and his three kids — each in giant brightly colored headphones — stood only a few feet away from me during the concert, mingling with friends.)

Their music has likewise grown up and their sound has evolved from boy band to rock band. “Go,” sung by youngest brother Zac, was stop-you-in-your tracks gorgeous, even calming down the otherwise loud audience. The majority of the latest album, from which they performed five songs, showcases a singer/songwriter vibe, dusting off the bubble gum from the hits that first put them on the map and giving off a sound that's more Five for Fighting than Backstreet Boys.

Even better than finding out that Hanson could be more than an adolescent lark was that each of the boys seemed so genuinely happy to be exactly where they were. They invited the audience into their evolution, talking a lot about the 10th anniversary of Middle of Nowhere. Isaac even ranted about the music industry, explaining why The Walk and their previous album, Underneath, were released independently.

The celebration of their 10th anniversary was, throughout the two-hour show, not just an excuse to play "MMMBop"; instead, it was a celebration of their evolution. These boys know where they come from and as they thanked the audience sincerely for having helped them along, I was sort of proud to be a fan of a group that seemed so genuine.

So, go ahead, laugh at me. Liking them is totally worth it.

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