“They don't even know what it is to be a fan. Y'know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.”
– Sapphire, Almost Famous
Do you know what it’s like? I do.
I’ve been a fan of the band Hanson since I was seven years old. Yes, Hanson, those blonde haired boys who looked like girls in their earlier years and earned their fame with a song called MMMBop.
At seven years old, Hanson’s music was just fun to listen to. I had very little life experience relevant to their music and a lot of the lyrics were over my head. Still, I loved the catchy tunes on their first album, Middle of Nowhere. That bright orange CD still exists in my collection as a reminder of my roots.
Over the years Hanson’s music became much more than just something fun to listen to. I watched their television specials and taped their talk show appearances on my VCR. I learned that they played their own instruments and wrote their own music. They were cute, goofy teenage boys with a passion for music. They inspired me.
I went to my first Hanson concert on July 20th, 2004 at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in New Hampshire. The band had just returned from a drawn out battle with their record label and a long hiatus from the music scene. When Hanson came back, it was on their own terms and they were better than ever.
The show was general admission so there was no assigned seating. I was not prepared for what I found there. The line wrapped around the building with fans young and old vying for that front row spot. My family set me loose to wait in line since they were not interested in getting up close to the stage. When we were finally let into the venue, I was hot, tired and dehydrated.
As the lights dimmed, the crowd started to move. I was tossed around, stepped on and knocked down. I didn’t care. I was about to see my favorite band in real life. I had waited seven years for this. Nothing else mattered in that moment.
The anticipation continued to build and everyone started a chant that has become a pre-show ritual. “Hanson! Hanson! Hanson!” The pace of the chant quickened, the spotlights faded in, and then Isaac, Taylor and Zac walked on stage.
I remember every detail so vividly. The screaming and applause from the crowd was deafening and the electricity pulsing through every person was tangible. As if we rehearsed it, everyone started singing along to the opening song and clapping to the beat. Being in that crowd was a life-changing experience for me. Everyone was a Hanson fan and we were all there for the same reason. We loved that band, that silly little piece of music so much that it hurt. From that moment, I was hooked. Seeing Hanson live was the closest thing to euphoria I had ever felt.
Zac Hanson and I, 2010
I met Isaac, Taylor and Zac after a concert a few years later and had the opportunity to thank them for all they have done for me. Through attending many concerts in the northeast, I have met an incredible group of girls that I consider to be my dearest friends. We're all friends because of Hanson. My dad, also a music lover and a huge Hanson fan, attends almost all of the shows with me. It’s a very special father-daughter tradition.
My friends, father, sister and I before a Hanson show, 2010
I have now seen Hanson in concert 15 times. Most shows are general admission, so as soon as my friends and I were old enough to drive, we started camping out the night before shows to get front row. For one show, we spent two nights on a New Hampshire sidewalk to get the best spots in the crowd. I was hungry, dirty, sore and exhausted, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. There is nothing like seeing your favorite band play from front row.
Camping out for front row, 2008
Some say my love for Hanson is a little overboard. While I’ll admit my fandom is definitely extreme, I am so thankful for what the band has given me. I have met friends that I absolutely adore, made incredible memories with my father, and of course, filled my world with music that has gotten me through some very difficult times. In the words of Hanson, “When you can’t get through it, you can listen to it.” I’ll always be listening. I will always be a fan.
Are you an extreme fan? What silly little piece of music do you love so much that it hurts?