I am a Hanson fan.
Not one of those shifty, closeted types, sneaking around magazine stores, nervously eyeballing glossy Teen People photo spreads of Taylor (Tay to his friends) splayed akimbo in a field of daisies.
Not one of those high-end audiophiles with their $500 headphones, arguing the virtues of the new Radiohead release, then rushing home, closing the blinds, cranking up KISS 92.5 and busting the moves with Tarzan Dan.
No. I am out and proud.
I wear their T-shirt shamelessly. Hell, I even got their Christmas CD, Snowed In. (Picture it: You and the boys holed up in some remote chalet, lounging in front of a fire in your long-johns. “Another cup of cocoa, Tay?”)
While the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync battle it out for teen domination – I say give ’em a Mr Turtle pool, a gallon of hot mud and let them wrestle it out – the Hanson brothers quietly go about their business of making amazingly catchy, heart-felt pop songs.
And Isaac (20), Taylor (17) and wee Zac (14) just keep getting better with age.
After the runaway success of their 1997 majestic symphony “MMMBop” (clearly a tribute to Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop” – I bop, you bop and we bop… mmmbop… and pass the wet naps), these rosy-cheeked cherubs from Tulsa, Oklahoma, are back with some fancy haircuts, a bit more peach fuzz and a new album, This Time Around.
I’ll admit. Being a fan is a heavy burden. I hear the snickering behind my back. I feel the pitying looks.
“Greg, this whole Hanson thing was kinda funny for a while, but now it’s just plain creepy. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not a 14-year-old girl.”
They just don’t understand. “It’s the music,” I tell them.
Granted, I wouldn’t necessarily kick Taylor out of my pup tent for eating my last marshmallow… but at 4am, lying on my bed, full of my 30-year-old angst and insecurity, there’s nothing that perks me up more than a blast of those sweet harmonies. That, and their cheekbones.
So. Sat, Sep 30. Massey Hall. I got a date with my boys.
Firstly. What to wear? What are the little nymphettes into these days. I mean, I want to fit in. (Judging from the concert, it seems those dweelie-bopper-head-thingies you used to get at the Ica Capades are quite popular.) I opt for my Hanson tee, a yellow sweater and a real close shave.
I head to Sneakers for a pre-show drink. It seemed an appropriate way to start the evening. I think somebody actually mistook me for a Hanson brother. Okay. It was dark. He was drunk. And it was Sneakers. But still, you get it where you can, n’est-ce pas?
The scene outside Massey Hall was pure mayhem. Stunned teenagers wandering aimlessly, clutching one another for support. Groups of parents huddled together shaking, as if they were sending their young ‘uns off to war.
Inside, all the kids are stockpiling T-shirts and posters (a steal at $35 apiece) at the merchandizing booth. I have to stop myself. One Hanson T-shirt is kitschy and cute. Two would just be vulgar and showy.
The opening act is a group called M2M, or something. I don’t know. Who cares? I go for a smoke.
Then it happened. The lights went low. The screaming ascended to a fevered pitch. And there they were: Hanson.
No flashy gimmicks. They weren’t suspended on bungee cords. They didn’t arrive onstage in a spaceship or a giant spider. Just three boys playing their little hearts out.
Isaac, fairly quiet and subdued, has some nice solos on the guitar. Zac was playful and cheery behind the drums. And Taylor. Taylor. Bouncing around the stage in a snug black tank top, he had the girls at his feet.
For two hours, they cranked out a variety of tunes from both studio albums, with a few covers (“Money,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”) thrown in. And they sounded fantastic. By the time Taylor pulled out the bongos for their inevitable show-stopper “MMMBop,” I was sweaty, my back was killing me, my eyes were blurry from al those flashy, neon tubes everyone was waving around. And I was having the time of my life.
I left the concert in a euphoric daze. It’s good to have idols. Even if they are three blond teenage pop stars.
And I swear, in the middle of his beautiful ballad “Song To Sing,” Taylor looked right at me and smiled. I swear.
My ticket stub is taped to my fridge.
I am a Hanson fan.