August 2022

RGB Tour Leg 4

My tour travels are still going, but I need to use today’s off day to blog about the last 3 shows or by the time I finish with the next 3 I won’t remember anything.  I failed at journaling after each show so hopefully I’ll remember all the big things… [Note: My travels are over and I wasn’t able to finish this post early like I had hoped!]

First up was Minneapolis.  I took the first flight out from Hartford direct to Minneapolis at 6am and landed in MSP around 8am.  We picked up the rental car for this leg of the trip – an absolutely massive Toyota 4runner. I hung out at my friend’s place until another friends flight landed and then headed downtown to the venue and our hotel.  I was pretty wiped out from the day of travel and was asleep before the TV show I was watching even ended.

Friday was show day! One of the perks of being a member of Hanson’s fanclub is that you get to be let into the venue first.  When I got in line a couple of hours before doors, that line was relatively short and I made it in with plenty of time to easily find my balcony seat.  Allen Mack Myers Moore was once again the opener, though their time on the tour was coming to a close.

For the most part, this show started off similarly to most of the others I had been to so far, but I was pleasantly surprised that Isaac decided to do For Your Love. Of course he said he hadn’t yet done it this tour, but he’s not as great with Hanson setlist stats as I am 😉  Then there was a first – Zack Mack from AMMM joined the guys on stage playing harmonica for Dressed in Brown Eyes.   Taylor’s solo was once again Save Me – despite the fact that Rambling Heart was listed on the setlist. Zach Myers had been teasing about Reggie Willie (Zac’s character in the Don’t Let Me Down video) on social media all day, so when it took a bit longer than usual before the encore, we had a feeling that he was putting on the muscle suit. And that he was.  And for good measure he put a banana down his pants and then somehow got Zach Myers to take a bite of it (it ended up being thrown into the crowd.)

After the show we waited by the bus.  I was really mad at Taylor for doing Save Me again, but still ended up asking him for a photo at the bus (or maybe I just handed my phone to him while he was talking to some others about baby names and he knew what to do)  and Isaac came out as well and I got a photo with him. We saw Zac walking around a bit but he never ended up coming out to the barricades.

The next morning we headed for Fargo, North Dakota.  Since there’s essentially nothing to do in North Dakota they have a “last state club” since so many leave it for last when trying to visit all 50 states. Initially, that was the plan but when Hanson play a show in a new state, all plans go out the window so rather than it being #50 it was #31. (Hanson state #28)  We stopped at the visitors center, had dinner at Wurst Beir Hall and hit up a few murals in town before heading to the concert.  It was outdoors and at a brewery and no one had any idea what to expect – including the staff.  We started the show in the Box Car section but ended up moving into friends extra floor seats because the sight lines weren’t really great from the Box Car area once the crowd started filling in.  Zac ended up doing Fire on the Mountain as his solo after a friend requested it at her M&G.  The setlist said Isaac would be doing For Your Love again, but of course he decided to bust out River again instead.  Taylor finally did Rambling Heart in my presence. Since I had a seat, I decided I was going to time “jumping” up to stand for some of the show with Taylor’s jumping during If Only.  Except, somehow, he didn’t jump at all?  So this one will forever be the show where I jumped more than Taylor during If Only.  When there was a break in the set a song or so later, he explained that the stage was as trampoline and they were worried if they jumped they’d have gone flying into the crowd.

The show was at a brewery which led to a lot of drunken shenanigans with the crowd and a girl who was being escorted out for being too drunk ended up falling onto me and hitting my shoulder pretty hard on her way out. My friend told me that Taylor’s PSA about looking out for your friends was mostly due to the fact that she was so drunk in the first row. I’m all for having a drink or two at a show but know your limits and don’t ruin a good time for everyone else because you’re a loser who can’t hold your beer (literally and figuratively).

The venue is right on the train tracks (hence the ‘box car’ section) and since it was AMMM’s last night on the tour, they invited AMMM to join them on stage for a cover of “Long Train Runnin”  We didn’t stick around after the show at the bus and instead headed to Canada for our last show of this half of the run.

We got to the Canadian border and after some brief questioning were allowed to enter the country.  It was about 3am when we got to the hotel for the night.  Since I was reporter that evening we decided to take it easy and not do much of anything but hang out in the hotel room and finish up my list of questions.  When we go to the venue, I was sitting behind the Members Line in an effort to not get a last second sunburn before my photo with Hanson.  Their bassist, Andrew, came around the corner and asked me what part of Connecticut I was from. I told him and filled him in on the fact that one of my former coworkers was the father of one of his friends. Small world.  Except after he left – I wondered – how did he know who I was and where I was from?!  We had never talked about that before (in fact,  the story about my former coworker I had been wanting to tell him since 2017 and never had the opportunity!)

Then it was finally time to go in for my interview. As I approached them for my photo, I asked “are you ready for this?!” and they all laughed and Taylor said it reminded him of the song and started singing jock jams are you ready for this.  Then he asked me if I hadn’t been reporter before and I said that I had, but it was 18 years ago “ohh it’s been a minute” and then he asked me where I was from because he didn’t think I was from Canada so I told him No, I’m from Connecticut.  (How did Andrew know?!)

After the photo, they found a bench in the back of the venue that Isaac and I shared and Zac brought chairs down for him and Taylor to sit in and then threatened the staff that if they made noise while we were recording, he would beat them up.  We chatted a little bit before the interview officially started about their long stretch of driving coming up next and issues with the bus where I mentioned we were skipping the long drive shows but would be flying out for Vancouver, Seattle and Portland.  Isaac attempted to record the reporter interview and flubbed it, then tried again and continued to flub but Zac told him to just keep going (I think both he and I were worried we’d spend my whole interview time with Isaac trying to get it just perfect)

If you’re a Member, my interview is now posted in the archive!

After the interview the guys asked me a few more questions about the site and how I got the setlists and Taylor asked me if I had a request and I said “Lost Without You”.  At this point, we had held up doors opening on time (which my friends outside said was making them anxious but also that they knew it was because I was still talking to them so it was a good thing) and I was allowed to just stay inside.  I dragged one of the chairs Zac had brought to the front row and all my friends were able to join on either side of me.  Taylor did switch up his solo to Weird, but didn’t end up doing Lost Without You.  [Later I heard they had sound checked it twice in its entirety at the shows in Canada after this one]

My friend was able to snag me a setlist from the stage, but I noticed it had all the Calgary concert info on the top.  When Isaac came out for photos and signing I had him fix it (as well we add in Zac’s solo) and sign it.  The other 2 didn’t end up coming out, but the annotated setlist will be a nice addition to my photo and photo mat I had the guys sign after the interview!

The next day a couple of my friends had to work, so another friend and I went to the Zoo!  We heard they had polar bears AND mobility scooters and really you can’t beat that.  The polar bears did not disappoint and we probably could have stayed there all day watching them play and fight and sit on our heads, but we ended up having to rescue a friend from the airport and drive her back with us as apparently my flight delay luck rubbed off on her. (After we made fools of ourselves trying to pronounce all the dinosaur names)

After hitting up the Manitoba welcome center and checking out some touristy shops, we made our way back to MN with a stop back in ND for dinner on the way.  We had an off day on Tuesday before our final leg of the tour kicked off! Which hopefully will be posted quicker than this post was? But I also may just sleep for all of September and write nothing.  We’ll see…

Book Review: The Antiracist Kid

I’ve often found that when there’s something I don’t quite understand and want to understand more, the best way to learn it in a way I can easily comprehend is to find a kids book about it. The past couple of years I have been trying to learn how to become Antiracist.  I’ve read several books on it. I get the general idea, but still wanted to know more.  I picked up The Antiracist Kid, a book geared at teaching young readers about being antiracist and about how identity works.  Almost immediately, I learned a new term, “person of global majority” and that wasn’t the only thing I learned.  If you’re an adult and want to learn more, and maybe how to explain racism to kids or if you have a young reader curious to know more about racism and being antiracist, I highly recommend this book.  It broke everything down into bite size, easy to understand and digest pieces and has some great illustrations in there to help as well.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of This Book is Anti-Racist, Tiffany Jewell, with art by Eisner-nominated illustrator Nicole Miles, The Antiracist Kid is the essential illustrated chapter book guide to antiracism for empowering the young readers in your life!

What is racism? What is antiracism? Why are both important to learn about? In this book, systemic racism and the antiracist tools to fight it are easily accessible to the youngest readers.

In three sections, this must-have guide explains:

– Identity: What it is and how it applies to you
– Justice: What it is, what racism has to do with it, and how to address injustice
– Activism: A how-to with resources to be the best antiracist kid you can be

This book teaches younger children the words, language, and methods to recognize racism and injustice—and what to do when they encounter it at home, at school, and in the media they watch, play, and read.

RGB Tour – Leg 3

The 3rd leg of my tour was supposed to be the easy one off show in Cleveland. A friend had just moved there and while I had been to Ohio once on a family vacation around 20 years ago, I didn’t have it as a Hanson state.

I woke up at 3:15am, drove to the airport and got on my flight to Baltimore. It’s short, only about 50 minutes and not a decent length for napping, though I did try to sleep.  I made it to my next gate and when we were supposed to board, the gate agent said the aircraft was locked for maintenance. Something wasn’t right in the cockpit and they were waiting on parts and he kept saying “it could be 2 minutes or it could be 2 hours”.  While it appeared they were actively fixing something, an hour and 20 minutes after we were supposed to board the flight was canceled.

I ended up calling southwest as the gate agent line was lengthy and he was going to get me to St. Louis and then to Cleveland at like 11pm.  I asked if he could ticket me for that flight but that I’d keep looking at other options but it ended up disappearing, probably because a gate agent gave someone else the option first.

All the other airlines either had no options or were stupid expensive with layovers. It was only 6 hours driving so I booked a one way car (thanks to my great work discount!) And headed to the rental shuttle. Which took forever and a day to come. AVIS said they had no cars until 3:30 via the app but I was hoping if I showed up earlier they could help me out and I ended up getting an orange Nissan Kick.

By about 1:30 I was off, ETA 7:40. Having to make a couple of stops and dealing with 3 storms rolling through, I ended up dropping the car off around 8:30pm and my friend and her youngest son came to pick me up and then I went to sleep.

Saturday morning we went to check out downtown Chagrin Falls which is the area Bill Waterson known for Calvin and Hobbes is from. We went to a local bookstore and a popcorn shop and then the boys played at a park for a bit. I got pooped on by a bird.  After we were all sufficiently tired out, we headed home to nap before the show.

I had opted for front row Mezz seats for this show, not realizing it was a 100 year old venue with no elevator and steeply pitched stairs. Slow and steady we made it up to the mezz and then down to the front row.  The view was worth the effort though!  Except for when during Zac’s solo a spider appeared on the outer side of the plexi glass!

This was my first time (of 3) seeing AMMM and I enjoyed their set. It was nice to see Justin (now going by JR) from Ingram Hill again. I’m not even sure when the last time I saw IH play was, it’s been quite a while but back in 04/05 we used to see them quite frequently.

Then it was time for Hanson – who came out playing a song I didn’t recognize at first. They had a few opening songs this tour but this is the first time they started with “everybody needs somebody to love” which they had played for the first time this tour as the encore the night before. They also pulled out Great Divide for the set as well.

Zac’s solo (with special spider appearance) was Wake Up, which I can’t get mad at because even though I’ve heard it, at least it is from RGB. Isaac started his solo by talking about members and then said someone had requested Next Train. A girl up in the mezz stood up and screamed so we figured it was her! When Taylor waved and came up to the front of the stage I knew what he had chosen for his solo – Save Me, once again. I have 6 shows left and I’m hoping for a rambling heart one of them…

After the show we waited by the bus.  Zac was out first, but we couldn’t get closer than to get him to sign my friend’s shirt.  After he left, a bunch of girls left and we managed to get on the barricade.  I figured with my luck that meant no one else would come out, but we were pleasantly surprised with both Isaac and Taylor came out and I was able to get pics with them and my friend got her shirt signed by all 3!

We got back to my friends place around 2am and needed to leave at 9am to get me back to the airport.  I got through security pretty quickly although TSA made me pat down my own brace?  That’s a first.  My flight to Baltimore went fine even though the incoming flight was ‘tardy’. The incoming flight to get me in Baltimore was running a bit late so we ended up getting delayed about 20 minutes for boarding.  After we boarded, we seemed to be waiting to take off forever, to the point that I woke up from trying to nap to check my apps to see if anything was up, but the captain finally came on and said they were trying to stagger the planes going north east more so we had to wait a few minutes so there’d be less traffic.  When we landed, it was raining really hard and we were told that we had to wait because due to the storm there was lightning within 3 miles of the airport so all the ground personnel had to take cover so we had to wait a bit until they were allowed to come back out and get us to the gate.

I still have 4 more flights left this tour so I am hoping they all end up going smoothly.

RGB Tour – Leg 2

For the second leg of the RGB Tour we were more on my home turf, New England and NYC.  This series of shows also had a couple of milestones.  The Hampton Beach show was my 700th concert overall and the NYC show was my 250th Hanson show.  This was extra special because back in 1997, the radio stations were giving away tickets to an exclusive Hanson show at the Beacon Theater in NYC.  I tried and tried and tried to win these tickets, but in the end, didn’t end up being successful.  At the time, I didn’t think to “just show up” and see if I could get in that way and taking trips to NYC wasn’t a common thing with my family at this time.  That Beacon Theater show ended up being used throughout Hanson’s tour VHS, Tulsa, Tokyo and the Middle of Nowhere.  I ended up going to the Beacon several other times over the years – to see Penn & Teller, front row to see The Wanted and even seeing Hanson as part of their String Theory tour.  But I feel like after 25 years I was finally righting a wrong, as I had front row seats to see a proper Hanson show there.

But let’s start with Boston…

Initially I wasn’t going to Boston, it can be difficult for me to get to and the venue is across the street from Fenway Park and the Red Sox also had a game the night of the show.  I also had tickets to see Shawn Mendes, so I was going to skip and meet up with my friends in New Hampshire instead.  Then Shawn ended up postponing and then canceling his tour and when I looked for tickets there was a front row box seat still available so I crashed on my friend’s plans.  I was going to pick my friend up at the airport and then she was going to drive my car in to Boston – but Thursday afternoon we got word that her flight was delayed into the evening, so I was on my own with getting to Boston.  Fortunately I only had to drive about 5 feet into the city before getting into the parking garage at the Prudential Center.

Due to rain supposed to be coming in, we changed our dinner plans and went to Earl’s in the Prudential Center for dinner and spent about $200 between 3 of us.  Here I thought being home for part of this leg it would be the less expensive run!  The next day we did our original dinner plans for lunch at Buttermilk and Bourbon which is a New Orleans inspired Tapas experience.  We had a lot of delicious food to share.  When we left the venue, we tried to get a Lyft to go the mile or so up to the venue and it gave us like 5 different drivers (one even named Hansen) before we swapped over to Uber and finally made it as close to the venue as we could get.

A couple of nights before the Boston show the guys had debuted “Dressed in Brown Eyes” along with the opener John Calvin Abney.  Since we had 3 more shows with John we were hopeful we’d end up getting to see it and we were quite pleased that it made it as the encore in Boston.  We weren’t very pleased that we were now 4 for 4 with Isaac doing River and Taylor doing Save Me as solos.  We were even less pleased when a friend snapped a photo of the selist and we found out that Taylor’s solo was supposed to be “Truth” and followed by “With a Little Help From My Friends”.  We thought maybe they practiced it and it didn’t sound great and weren’t sure if that meant it would never see the light of day or if maybe it would show up later in the tour.

Overall the Boston show was a good one, but the section I was in was not into it at all. I am not sure the woman next to me even moved, which is fine, but she kept giving me looks when I was singing along and swerving my chair around to “dance”.  The vibe was just all off and almost somber.  Until…. MMMBop when a few girls somehow appeared behind me out of nowhere and in true Boston fashion, someone ended up spilling a drink on me. And then you wonder why I think Bostonians are obnoxious. They can’t drive and they literally can’t hold their liquor.  After the show the bus was pretty much chaos (and we missed seeing Zac in the bus door by about 10 seconds!) so we opted to just head back to the hotel.

Saturday morning we took it easy because we knew we had a late night drive ahead of us.  We made the drive up to Hampton Beach and the parking lot I wanted to park in said it was full, but I knew they had a few accessible parking spots which sometimes aren’t included in the count for “full” so we decided to drive in and see if we could get lucky and in fact we ended up finding an even better parking spot, with the bus right behind us.  While waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive, we saw Taylor drive his bus by and knew that he’d need to park it right behind us soon.  We ended up hanging around since we weren’t sure if my car would need to be moved to assist in the parking attempt and well, we didn’t really trust Taylor to safely drive past it either.  First Taylor came and assessed the situation and then pulled the bus in.  There were shouts of “WATCH THE RED CAR” and then some locals came by and finished directing him. When he was finished and we were all pretty impressed he said “You either do it, or you do it” I mean, yeah, I guess there wasn’t really another option there.  But for 10 minutes my anxiety was through the roof watching him. He, on the other hand, appears to be fearless.

After (finally) getting a late lunch we went to sit by the beach for a bit.  When we decided to maybe hit the arcade, we ended up in line waiting to see what they would do for ADA instead  and had a view of all the line drama and the staff trying to keep everything under control.  We weren’t sure if the Casino Ballroom would even have an ADA area and weren’t expecting to see much of the show, but were surprised we had a good spot off to the side of the stage.  Of note: Isaac decided to do Hand in Hand with no fake voting, but Taylor decided to do Save Me again.

ADA ended up being a show within the show as we were interrupted during Go by a medic due to a girl looking like she might end up passing out and needing to be walked out of the crowd. (We had a barricade behind us that she had made her way up against, so she wasn’t actually in ADA.)  Another point during the night a girl came running in and plopped herself down on one of the stools. When security asked if she was ADA she said “Eighty?” and then they had to get another security guard to escort her out of the area.  Also behind the barricade near us were a couple of kids, so Isaac jumped down off the stage at the end of the show and walked along the barricade to give high fives.  The barricade ended up leading him into the ADA area and he couldn’t figure out how to get out.  After they moved the barricade for him, he waved and said thank you to us and made his way backstage.

After the show we hung out by my car and decided to see where things were at around midnight since we had a long drive back to my house after.  In the end we stayed until 12:30, all 3 guys came out and my friend helped get my CD to Zac and Taylor so I could get all 3 signatures.  (I had previously gotten Isaac in Birmingham) We also made song requests for the NYC show and felt the most confident that Zac would try to play what we asked. (The requests were World Goes Around from Zac, Greener Pastures from Isaac and Truth from Taylor – and I told him we knew it was on the setlist in Boston.)

We made it back to my house at 3:30am and ended up taking a 12 something train into the city and a cab to our hotel.  We ubered closer to to the venue to meet some friends for dinner and then made our way to the Beacon.  Unfortunately it was surrounded in scaffolding so my marquee picture dreams were crushed.  I knew this show was going to a bit emotional on several levels – one being the last time I was there front row, was for my last time seeing The Wanted.  When I saw the hallway we had to wait in before the Wanted M&G I started to cry a bit. Fortunately it was all before the show and I was able to get it out of my system.  During John Calvin Abney’s set, he leaned down and said “Miss, do you know what time it is?” so I told him it was 8:25 and he said “25? I have time for one more song!” and finished up his set.  Hanson ended up taking the stage about 10 minutes earlier than usual and the end seemed a bit rushed so I think they had a hard 11pm curfew.  While I’ve been kind of annoyed that this tour seems to skew more towards MON than RGB – all those old MON songs hit differently this night, since I remember seeing so many of them over and over and over being played here on TTMON from the video they filmed back in 1997.  I somehow managed to push myself to stand for the entire show – figuring if Taylor did Save Me again, that would be my break.  But he ended up doing Truth – which has been converted from a guitar song to a piano song – the other 2 joined him for the end of it and then they went into With a Little Help From My Friends.  I’m not sure why they decided last second to cut it in Boston because it was AWESOME.  At the end of the show, they didn’t do a bow just the 3 of them which was disappointing because they would have been right in front of me and I would have gotten a great photo!

After the show we waited by the bus but it was straight up 1997 with the fans singing MMMBop. *eye roll*.  Taylor ended up coming out and driving his bus away and we called it a night and ubered back to the hotel, only to see Zac came out about half an hour or so after we left.  But after standing for an entire show and being 3 shows deep for the weekend, I was ready to lay down.

On the train back home in the morning I was getting texts from work and needing to be on site so I have had a wild week and have been unable to sleep in like I was hoping. But the blog is finished, the work week is almost done and I have to get packed to do it all over again this weeknd.

Book Review: Friend Me

Friend Me is the 2nd book in the Synergy Novel series.  I did not read the first one, though based on the characters I think I have a good idea who the first one was about. (I’ll go back and read it eventually, though.) Not having read the first, I didn’t feel at all like I was behind on the story and it was easily read as a standalone.  As a software engineer, I probably would have started this book sooner had I known it was about a programming firm! I liked all the little programming jokes/notes injected throughout the story as well – and ironically enough was reading it on the plane on the way to a business trip. I told my coworker about it and was teasing that it was VERY niche – programming romance novels – and now she wants to read it as well.

To the story – Marlee is the executive assistant to Jackson at Synergy.  She’s great at her job.  She also has a massive crush on her coworker Cooper and has been scheming on how to be alone with him when her boss is off on his honeymoon by hiring a steady stream of crappy assistants for him.  To further put her plan into place, she needs a date for the wedding to make him jealous, because he has invited one of his good friends who is very beautiful and maybe a bit intimidating to Marlee.  Coworker and BFF, Tyler, steps in to aid her in her schemes and be her wedding date.  But is there maybe something more there?

Does her scheming work out? Will she end up with Cooper even though it may be against company policy? Or will she realize she is just being silly?

I read this book pretty much straight through once I started it, couldn’t put it down.  (I had to save the last 30 minutes or so for once I got to the hotel for my business trip – but definitely stayed up too late to make sure I finished it!) I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

She knows better than to think she’ll get a happily-ever-after like the romance stories she loves…until her nerdy work friend starts to act like Prince Charming.

Romance-reading executive assistant Marlee can’t show up to her boss’s wedding without a date. Not after her crush invites a beautiful, brainy Amazon. So when her best buddy, Tyler, offers to be her plus-one, she’s all in for a little jealousy-sparking fun.

Until a magical kiss on the dance floor makes her forget her own name and question who she’s crushing on. Suddenly their date doesn’t feel so fake.

Leveling-up their friendship is a risk she’s not ready to take. So is Tyler asking for more than she can give. She never meant to break up with her best friend. Especially when she suspects she’s falling for him.

Friend Me is a slow-burn-to-red-hot, friends-to-lovers, fake-relationship romantic comedy featuring a starry-eyed heroine, a sweet, cinnamon-roll hero, and a pair of cranky cats. It can be read as a standalone and is the second book in the Synergy series.

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