REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
“Wait…those MMMBop guys are still around?”
Yeah – and they’ve built an impressive catalogue over the past 30 years, including 12 studio albums.
This show had everything you could ask for on a sweltering Sunday evening on 09.04.2022 as the MMMBop fellas were set to play the Van Buren – a venue that is quickly becoming a favorite of mine here in the Phoenix Metro.
Hanson draws a unique crowd, and I’ll say that they have an equally unique opportunity to grow WITH their fan base, because when they came out with arguably their biggest hit to date, the Hanson Brothers were just 16, 14, and 11 – so they’ve literally had the chance to grow up with their fan base.
Not many acts can tout something quite as magnificent as that.
Sure, you could argue that bands like KISS and other 80s megaliths have had the same pleasure, but even when Mötley Crüe formed, Tommy Lee was 19 – so Hanson, in that regard, has a leg up on the tasteless drummer from the 80s by at least 3 years.
And Hanson’s show was less geriatric.
I’ll chalk that up to another win for the trio for now.
But, being a band for 30 years doesn’t mean that you’ve got all the kinks worked out yet. Tour bus troubles are the proverbial “thorn in the side” for many acts, and that was certainly the case last night as Hanson was over a full hour late gracing the stage. But having arrived all the way from San Diego the night before, it was impressive that they managed to get as far as Phoenix – gear intact – and still play.
The fans didn’t seem to mind though, because unlike most KISS fans, Hanson fans don’t have to shuttle back to the nursing home (even though most of them are now suburban soccer moms who, as one fan told me, “Only get out every once in a while.”). And literally every single white guy at the show greeted me with robust, “I’m only here for my wife/girlfriend/mistress,” as though there is some sort of shame in enjoying great musicians because they’re a “boy band.”
Grow the fuck-up already and leave your toxic masculinity at the door. Hanson fuckin’ SLAPS, and if you’re afraid to admit that AT THE SHOW then all I can do is pray for you. You can catch me blaring Hanson from any giant, lifted, pavement-princess truck ANY day of the week. The once “boy band” is now very much a “man band” and while their harmonies are still top-notch, they certainly display a more grown-up approach to their music these days as they are packed with more serious themes.
Their new album for example, Red, Green, Blue, features an even mix of tracks from each brother, which caused them to work together in new ways, and they certainly have come along way since their debut in 1997 which sent a whopping 10 million copies of their album to fans across the globe.
Anyway, on to the show!
The Grand Southern, a band that I hadn’t heard of before, took the stage first, albeit I think they were a little premature in the timing.
Let me explain.
So the doors at the Van Buren were set to crack open at 7:00pm (19:00 for you dude bros) to let the first wave of animal printed, bedazzled soccer moms in the gates. Ok, no problem. The show was advertised to start at 8:00pm (20:00 for you dude bros), but The Grand Southern was already on stage by 7:30pm, so the timing seemed to be off a little bit.
But hey, it’s a concert! And concerts are like weddings – they rarely, if ever, start on time or go as planned all the way through.
It was a rather enjoyable set. The Grand Southern is like if Lynyrd Skynyrd and Mumford & Sons had a baby. They’re a little blue grass, a little twangy, but punchy enough to matter. They were also celebrating the birthday of their singer, songwriter, and drummer Dash Hutton. “You know…it’s this guy’s birthday today, and a lot of people don’t know this, but he was conceived right here in Phoenix!” said co-vocalist Jesse Tyre to the crowd’s delight.
They then launched into a cover of “Summer of 69” which went over really well for an audience who was living their childhood nostalgia that evening. The band also played notable hits such as “Traded Heaven,” and “Sleeptalking,” both of which are great tracks for rainy days spent indoors reading your favorite books (at least that’s what they speak to me – go listen to them on Spotify and see what resonates with you).
Then…after about a 90-minute delay, the Hanson brothers took the stage to a commanding range of applause and cheering from the rhinestone clad soccer moms down to the soccer players themselves (yes, this was an all ages show).
Hanson apologized for the delay, and then belted out 20+ hits from their 30 years together as a band. And that’s what true showmanship is about, folks. Sure, life on the road is tough, but they rolled with the punches and still played their hearts out.
Which is also impressive that a band of brothers has been able to stick together for this long. I don’t have siblings, but if I did, I’m assuming that they wouldn’t want to be in a band with me for three decades.
Hell, I don’t even want to be with me for three decades, but here we are.
They kicked off with “I’ve Got Soul” which was the perfect way to kick-start as it’s more of a peppy track that’s designed to groove around to. Following with “Where’s The Love?” which first debuted in 1997 (I was 10 back then for the record) and the hands went up right away and didn’t come back down for a LONG time. You could see that even though the band was a little stressed out from the breakdown, that they didn’t lose sight of their purpose for playing that night.
The show went on, and that’s commendable considering the struggle.
They continued to play throughout the night with notable tracks such as, “Crazy Beautiful,” “Write You A Song,” and OBVIOUSLY they played, “MMMBop” because…it wasn’t an option to NOT hear that one live. Taylor’s vocal range is still impressive, and at times you can still hear that youthful vibrato coming through that captivated us all when we were younger.
Vocalist and guitarist Isaac Hanson frequently changed out guitars, and it was impressive to see him work so much hardware into the set. Taylor was classic as ever on keyboards and bongos, and heartthrob drummer Zac was a blast to watch behind the kit.
So despite the delay, and the admittedly awkward feeling of the set time for The Grand Southern, the night went off without a hitch as the show came to a close. As always, a big shout-out to the staff at the Van Buren for keeping everyone safe and working tirelessly to bring us amazing music experiences in such a great venue.
Remember to stay hydrated at shows, please wear deodorant, eat your veggies, and check out Hanson’s latest release Red, Green, Blue on any streaming platform that you enjoy!
The Grand Southern