Show Review: Hanson with Meiko at Regency Ballroom, 9/8/2011

by Stacy Scales on September 8, 2011

Taylor, Isaac, and Zac Hanson...in an 'mmmbop' they're grown

To most of the world, Hanson were three little boys who sang ridiculously catchy songs like “I Will Come to You,” “Weird,” and “Where’s the Love,” had millions of little girls screaming and crying, but “in an mmmbop” were gone. What most don’t know is that the brothers Hanson have never stopped making music. Since that first album that created hysteria among pre-pubescent girls, Middle of Nowhere, Hanson has released four more studio albums (2000’s This Time Around, Underneath in 2004, The Walk in 2007, and last year’s Shout it Out), the three most recent three of which have been under their own label, 3CG Records. Because Hanson made their debut in a moment of bubble gum pop insanity alongside the Backstreet Boys, ‘NSync, and countless other fluffy prefab acts, they were too easily written off with the rest as having had little to no talent. What many didn’t (or still don’t) know was that the boys had been writing their own lyrics and music all along, and now almost fifteen years later, continue to do so, rewarding loyal fans with some great pop rock tunes. Last night their “Musical Ride Tour” stopped at the Regency Ballroom, and I was lucky enough to be there to spend another memorable evening with a band I love to change people’s minds about.

The first thing I noticed last night was the crowd. Since 2003, I’ve been to more Hanson shows than I care to try to count. While I chose to skip the years of screaming, almost Beatle-like craze of shows in their youngest years, I’ve still be around long enough to have witnessed the fans growing up with the band. Back in 2003-2004, the average fan was around 21 – still rowdy, barely old enough to drink, and more than ready to push and shove to be as close to the boys as possible. (Not to mention, the boys were still single back then.) Now, however, the crowd is much more respectful. There wasn’t really any crowding at all at the Regency last night, which I admit surprised me quite a bit. Maybe it’s because all three guys are now both husbands and fathers, or maybe it’s just that the fans have matured. Either way, it was an interesting and impressive truth to witness, given that I’d expected the same mayhem from years gone by.

The opening act was a girl named Meiko and her acoustic guitar. She sounded like Jewel and was unbelievably charming, singing songs from both of her albums (both of which, it seems, are self-titled). She began with “Piano Song,” followed by “Reasons to Love You,” which had been featured on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. She stopped then to tell the crowd how exciting of an opportunity touring with Hanson was for her. It was obvious that she was nervous and a bit overwhelmed by the crowd (even on a Wednesday night). She announced the next song, “Under My Bed,” and was happy to hear one person’s shout of recognition at its title. The next song, “Between the Sheets,” is her favorite song from her new EP, about a secret love affair – not with a Hanson brother. She insisted it was “Romeo & Juliet style scandalous.” Next up was “Stuck on You,” which she wrote because she was really happy. Her first record, she admitted, was a little melancholy. She said people used to come up to her after performances and tell her they really liked her but that her music was a little depressing. Then she fell in love and started writing happier songs, which embarrassed her greatly to hear herself say on the microphone.

She didn’t announce the name of the next song, but it was a poppy little ditty that goes quite well with the tunes of the headliner, given the “doo doo doo”s, not to mention sweet lyrics like “you are so dreamy, I feel like I’m in the movies.” When it was over, someone in the crowd shouted out that she was getting married in ten days and she wanted to play that song at the wedding. Meiko told her she’d have to buy the EP. The next song came with a story: Meiko had dated a guy that “sucked,” and her friends hadn’t liked him. She was sure he was really cool, but only around her. Eventually, though, they broke up and she moved out – since she’d paid all the rent, it was of no financial cost to her. When he came back to get his stuff one day, he asked her if she’d been writing songs about him. She had, and decided to play one for him. The song, “Good Looking Loser,” insists that she’s the one that got away, and the crowd ate it up.

After “Boys with Girlfriends,” she told us that she kept a watch on so that she wouldn’t piss anyone off, but had time for another song or two. “How Lucky We Are,” which was originally called “Shitty Apartment,” came next, and finally “Real Real Sweet,” a song she wrote to mess with the girlfriend of a close male friend of hers, who was convinced that something was going on between her boyfriend and Meiko, though it really never was.

Meiko

After nearly another hour of standing around, patience waning, Hanson finally took the stage. The premise of the Musical Ride tour is simple: for each stop on the tour, fans get to vote on which album they’d like to have featured in their city. San Francisco chose Shout it Out, the most recent album. Appropriately, the show opened with “Musical Ride,” after which Taylor explained that they weren’t quite ready to get to the newest stuff. They played “Where’s the Love?” next, followed by “Crazy Beautiful,” and then moved into newer tunes “Waiting for This,” “Thinkin’ ’bout Something,” and “Make it Out Alive.” Clearly, Taylor feeds off the energy of the crowd, as he kept reminding us all not to stop clapping, to keep our hands up, or to jump. Next came “And I Waited,” “These Walls,” and then a Zac solo from the piano: the melancholy beauty “Use Me Up.”

As Taylor came out alone, he gave a shout out to Meiko’s “awesomeness,” and confessed that he thought the concept of the tour was a great one, but that when it was originally conceived they hadn’t realized that it meant they’d have to be ready with any of nearly seventy previously recorded songs. The song he played was one I’ve never heard, and definitely isn’t from any of their albums, but it was gorgeous. His brothers came back out then to play “one more super slow song,” the last one they recorded for Shout it Out, “Me Myself & I.” “Carry You There” came next, with the crowd singing along at the song’s close. After “Kiss Me When You Come Home,” Taylor admitted that sometimes when you get home you want more than a kiss, a statement that was met with whistles, screams and applause as the band began the fantastically catchy “Give a Little.”

Next it was time to go back to another era “just for a minute,” that era being Middle of Nowhere, for “Look at You.” Taylor then asked the crowd if they’ve ever been in a relationship that has them counting the minutes until they see the person next. The question was rhetorical, as older fans knew it would lead to “A Minute without You.” They thanked the crowd for being “incredible,” and for allowing them to do what they love for the past (almost) fifteen years, and then played “the first one,” “Mmmbop,” which naturally had the crowd going a bit wild. “This Time Around” was next, followed by “Hey” and “Voice in the Chorus,” which was the alleged end of the show.

After several minutes of fanfare, the band came back onstage. Isaac said, “I think they want another song!” and then talked about cutting ties with their old label and starting their own. They dedicated the song to the diehard fans with a reminder to “roll the windows down and turn the radio up,” which of course set them up to play 2004’s “Penny & Me.” When they finished, Taylor asked us if we had any more energy. The crowd screamed in response, but he warned us that we might need a little stretching and preparation first, lest we pull a muscle during their final song, “If Only.”

When it was over, the band took their bows with additional tour musicians, and then a final bow just for Hanson, and left with all the graciousness for which their fans know and love them. As I left the venue a few minutes later, I noted the girls lining the streets near the tour bus, waiting for them to exit the stage door. In less than five minutes, all three had come out, waving, giving high-fives, or shaking hands. Taylor was the last to leave, and I shook my head as I watched girls literally grabbing at him. Alright – so it seems not all of them have grown up with the band. I couldn’t help thinking, “so that’s where the love is!” At any rate, it was another great night with a band I’m not ashamed to love.

Stacy Scales

California native. Word nerd. Music lover. Linguaphile. Amateur foodie. Basketball junkie. Travel enthusiast. Future therapist.

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