And I Said Hey There, Massachusetts...
(Hanson & SK6ers in Northampton, MA - April 25th, 2008)

In my eleven years as a fan, I've managed to see Hanson twenty-two times in only four states (Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware). In fact, I've never even BEEN out of those four states for any reason, Hanson or otherwise. So, when I found out (or heard a rumor, actually) that Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, a band who I've adored since 2006, were going to be the openers, I knew that if they played a show in their homestate of Massachusetts, I wanted to be there.

With much anticipation, we Hanson fans waited for the new tour dates. When they were finally announced, much to my delight, not only was there a show in Massachusetts, but one in The Sixers' hometown of Northampton! Not to mention, shows in Sayreville, NJ, Falls Church, VA, Allentown, PA, and Lancaster, PA that I'd also be attending. But like I mentioned above, I've only ever set foot in four states in my life... and they all border Pennsylvania, where I live. So, getting the opportunity to go to Massachusetts and venture out just a little bit was a huge deal.

Fast forward through the ticket drama, transportation drama, yada yada... Long story shirt, mom and I hopped an Amtrak train (our first train ride!) that took us from here to New Haven, CT, a three-hour ride. As we rode through Bridgeport, the teenie in me could not help but whip out my camera, take a picture of the Bridgeport sign, and say, "Ahh! John Mayer was born here!" (Big fan, big fan.) Anyways, we switched trains in New Haven, and then had another hour-and-a-half ride to Springfield, MA. When we got there, we picked up our rental car and got on our way to Northampton.

Thanks to a wonderful invention known as a GPS, we did it without getting lost. Yea! Since we couldn't check into the hotel until 3:00, we decided to head to the venue to catch the walk. There was a nice-sized group of fans already there -- no more than 200, I'd say. I found my dear friends Colleen and Rachael, and gave them gifts that I made for their birthdays that fall in April and May -- homemade Hanson totebags. (Of course, then Hanson had to make their own totebags... boo! But nonetheless, the girls liked them.)

It wasn't long after we arrived that all three Hanson boys emerged from the tour bus, Taylor and Isaac with their megaphones and Zac with his camera, to start the walk. Taylor began his usual speech, Zac began his usual videotaping, we were invited to take off our shoes, we all yelled, "Let's walk!" together, and we were off on our stroll. Now, I thought this would be a nice walk, as Northampton is a nice town. Don't get me wrong -- the scenery along the way was great and it was a lovely day. But someone needs to teach Taylor to Mapquest the route before we walk.

That kid had us going uphill, downhill, through neighborhoods, in traffic.... there was one point where even Isaac was wondering where Taylor was leading us to. Isaac kept us laggers entertained, though. As we were crossing one particular intersection, we were getting the usual strange looks from people... So, Isaac spoke into the megaphone and did a little shameless self-promotion. "Hi, we're Hanson... we're playing a show tonight at the Calvin Theatre... you should come down and see us."

Half-way through, I could not keep up with Hanson and the majority of the crowd. I was sweaty, thirsy, tired (I'd been awake since 3:30AM!), hungry, and my feet were killing me. Word of advice: Don't wear a brand new pair of TOMS on a walk. Break them in first. I kicked back with Colleen's parents and a few other laggers. We had ourselves a nice little walk. Despite how far behind we were, we somehow managed to make it back to the venue in time to hear some of Taylor's speech and join everyone in saying, "I took the walk!"

The boys stayed out for awhile. I assume they were signing autographs and taking pictures. Me? I found the closest bench and parked myself while I watched the madness unfold. Too tired to meet Hanson right now! After resting under a shady tree for awhile, we decided to head back to the hotel to check in. Well, I limped back. I'm pretty sure my toes are broken.

After resting for an hour or two, we once again headed down to the venue. This time, mom drove the rental car down so that I didn't have to limp all the way to the show. We arrived back at the venue in our homemade SK6ers shirt. I went back by the bus to see if any of The Sixers happened to be out there. I had a gift for Kit ('The Goose') -- a t-shirt with a picture of two cartoon rubber duckies and one goose. It said "Duck, Duck, Goose." Clever, eh? Stephen and Boots can be the ducks. Anyways, I was hoping to give it to him before the show. But alas, none of The Sixers were outside. Just one Hanson, known as Zac, who came out of the venue, waved hello to us, and got on the bus.

And so, we went inside and were led to our fourth row seats. It was killer! I love seated Hanson shows. That's the only chance I ever get to be close to the stage, as I refuse to get in GA crowds. We had a few minutes to kill, so I went upstairs to grab some bottled water (for $2.50 each... pssh!) and check out The Sixers merch. (Hanson's merch table was mobbed, but I don't plan on buying any Hanson merch until Lancaster, anyway.) I finally picked up a copy of "Lucky Eleven", my favorite Stephen Kellogg album. I dashed back downstairs in time for Kate Voegele's performance.

Kate is awesome. I love chick music, and that's just what she is. She has incredible stage presence and you can just tell that she really enjoys doing what she does. I was bouncing around in my chair and singing along to her songs. I didn't get to talk to her after her set, but I hope I get a chance to in another city. I met her in February when she headlined here in Philadelphia and she was great.

After Kate, I snuck to the second row to chat with Michey, Karen, and Christina. From the corner of my eye, I watched Stephen's cousin Jess and another sound tech setting up the stage for The Sixers. I wanted to make sure I had time to get back to my seat before they came on. I also stopped by the other end of the fourth row to see Colleen, who was very, very excited to see Hanson. We both had our fingers crossed that Hanson would sing "Hole in My Life". I get quite amused by the way Taylor dances to that one.

I glanced up at the stage again and noticed that Cousin Jess wasn't there and everything on the stage looked ready to go. I headed back to my seat. Within moments, the lights dimmed and out came The Sixers. I was flipping out. I was sure that nothing at all could be more amazing than what I was about to witness -- Hanson and The Sixers... all on the same night! Honestly, what more could I possibly ask for?

They started by playing the live interlude to "Sweet Sophia", then played the song. I guess it was about half-way through the first verse when I looked around and realized that there was probably ten people standing in the whole theatre. That's when I said to myself, 'Ya know what? I didn't spend five hours on a train just to come here and sit.' Heck, don't you think I did enough sitting on the train? And so, I got up and rocked out. I was the only person within the first six or seven rows who did so. I'm sure Stephen was thinking, 'Who is that nut in the fourth row?'.

From then, I don't remember the particular order of the shows. All I remember is when they started playing "Days" and I turned to my mom and squealed, "It's 'Days'! Oh my God, they're gonna sing 'Days'!". Now, when it comes to The Sixers setlist, I'm not very picky. I'm pretty much pleased with anything. But "Days" is one song that I had to hear. Why? Because a day like today just feels so good! Plus, during that song, Stephen plays a medley of songs from every decade. When he got to the 90's, he threw in "Where's The Love".

They sang "the drinking song", also known as "Start The Day Early". One of my favorites was the acoustic version of "Vegas" when Goose broke out the tuba and they all gathered around Stephen's microphone and jammed. I've never heard "Vegas" live before, so getting to hear it live and acoustic was especially exciting. My favorite part was when Stephen, as usual, starting ripping on Boots by singing, "My friend Boots is like a girl without a boy..."

"4th of July" is the song where everyone finally got up and rocking, probably thanks to Stephen's extreme clapping and stage presence. You could tell that he was determined to get everyone out of their seats... and he did. When I looked around again, everyone was up and dancing. Good job, SK! Just remember that I was standing first. ;-)

Once that was over, Stephen said that he was going to break it down and do a ballad. Some girls in the front decided to sit back down. Stephen joked, "Oh no, I just lost the whole second row. I say I'm gonna do a ballad and everyone decides to sit." The song he was about to sing was "Father's Day", a song he wrote for his little girls. He gave a very cute and heartfelt intro to the song... that is, until he joked that Goose could relate because knew all about fathering children. Then the whole audience broke out into laughter. Next was "Milwaukee", my favorite song from the new album. It seems to have become popular among Hanson fans. That's pretty much my life story in a song... Stephen says it's his life story, too. Well, I guess that's kind of obvious. He wrote it. My favorite part of the live version of "Milwaukee" is when Goose does his piano solo. That gives me the opportunity to rock out and swing my hair around.

Their final song was one I haven't seen them perform in over a year... and I was so excited to hear it -- their cover of "Up on Cripple Creek". Was that killer or what? I just love how they perform that song. Especially the "bow chicka bow chicka bow" part. At the end, they came over to the wing of the stage right by my seat and jumped into the audience! They all stood up on a few empty chairs behind me and finished the song, then ran up the aisle and into the upstairs lobby.

Of course, mom and I followed right after them. It was a mob scene in the on the staircase and in the lobby! I've never seen so much chaos just to meet The Sixers before. Boots managed to escape from the madness. He passed by me on the stairs. I called out to him that he did a good show, and he thanked me. Mom and I waited on the stairs... and waited... and waited. I'm used to just waltzing up to one of The Sixers after a show and having a little chat. There's no massive crowd of girls and having to shove your way to the front. It was interesting, to say the least.

After much waiting, and after most of the crowd had gone inside (because Hanson was about to come on), I finally got up to Goose. He had his back turned, so I tapped him on the shoulder. "Goosie?"

He turned around and greeted me. "Hey!"

"We came all the way from Philadelphia just for you guys," I told him.

"Oh, wow," he said. "That's awesome." And he gave me a high-five. (It's true. They do give out free high-fives at their show.)

"And I brought you a present." I held up the shirt.

"That's so cool!", he told me. "Thank you. What's your name?"

"Chrissy." [insert big smile here] 'You wanna know my number, too?' I thought. "It's our first time in Massachusetts. We knew it was your hometown show, so we couldn't miss it."

"Yea, I live about ten minutes from here," he said.

'Good to know,' I thought. 'Why don't we go back to your place after the show?' (I have this unhealthy crush on Goose... it's pretty bad. I'm on a mission to marry him.)

"You'll be seeing me a lot this week," I informed him. "I'm also going to be in Sayreville, Falls Church, Allentown, and Lancaster."

"That's great. Definitely keep coming over to say 'hi' every night!"

"Oh, I will! We've met before, actually." I held up my SK6ers guitar pick that I was wearing on a necklace. "You gave me this the last time I saw you. But I better get back in for Hanson now. I'll see you on Tuesday!"

"Okay, Chrissy!" I got another high-five before I left.

As I was walking away, Stephen gave me this great big smile and mouthed, "Hey!", as if he knew me. I'm assuming he either recognized me from Philly, or he recognized me as the lunatic in the fourth row. But I didn't have time to chat. Hanson was about to come on!

I get back inside and it was just minutes before the lights dimmed. The venue was filled with some of the most piercing screams I've ever heard in my Hanson concert history. I even had to cover my ears because I could quite literally feel pain. This very... odd... music started playing. I suppose this is what everyone referred to as the "creepy" music. I wouldn't quite call it creepy. Just strange.

The boys came out, and, well. I know I don't even have to say what the opening song was. Of course it was Great Divide. What else? From there, they went into "Been There Before", where we were encouraged to sing along to the "na na na na" part.

After "A Minute Without You" and "Can't Stop" (which I love the live version of), came "Georgia". I was pretty excited for that song. Then after "Crazy Beautiful" was, of course, "Hole in My Life". I think that cover suits Hanson perfectly. Plus, the crowd really gets into it when Taylor wants us to throw our hands up and scream, "Yea! Yea!"

They left the stage for a moment and broke it down into the acoustic set, which included "Strong Enough to Break", "Go", "MMMBop", and Isaac's solo, a song called "Everyday". For those who don't know, this is actually a song that Isaac wrote for his wife and it was performed at their wedding. It wasn't heard by fans until it was performed at a concert last year that fell on Isaac and Nikki's first anniversary. I was quite thrilled to hear it. It's a very beautiful song.

Once they plugged it back in, the first song in the third set was quite a surprise... "Your Illusion". Since I've known this song, I haven't heard it live, so this was a first for me. By listening to the fans' reactions around me, they seemed to be loving it, too. "Blue Sky" was next, where we were invited to sing our "whoa's" and "oh's".

During "If Only", everyone went into a jumping frenzy... including Isaac. I admire him for being able to jump and play guitar at the same time. " Where's The Love", of course, involved the round-and-round dance. Zac then took over on lead vocals for awhile and sang "Running Man" and a cover of The Beatles song, "Oh, Darling". (That one got my mom's attention for sure.)

"Got a Hold On Me", "Watch Over Me" (my mom's favorite), "Hey" (the best live Hanson song ever), "Lost Without Each Other" followed. Our teaser encore was "Something Going Round". Taylor explained what that "something" (walking barefoot, coming to shows, ect.) was and asked if we all had it... Basically, he was asking if we were all insane.

When they were done, they left the stage and a sound tech came out with an extra microphone. I got shifty-eyed and started asking out loud to no one in particular. "Stephen? Oh my God. Is Stephen coming out?"

Isaac, Taylor, and Zac came back on stage... and I won't even ask what was up with the "Marty Stewart" shirts. Am I out of the loop about something? Anyways, Taylor said that they were going to invite some friends up on stage... and out comes Stephen, The Sixers, and... Pat McGee! And all I could do was shriek, "Oh my God! Oh my God!" over and over again. These were my two favorite bands on stage together. I had my fingers crossed that they'd do an encore, but I didn't get my hopes up... but I'm so glad that it happened.

They completely rocked "Long Way to the Top". It was the most incredible five minutes of my life. I don't even know what else to say about it. Boots was rocking out with Zac, Stephen was singing with Taylor... ugh. It was great. At the end, they all took a bow together.

Hanson topped off the night with an acapella version of "Great Divide".

After the show, mom and I were much too tired to wait by the bus. I did peek at it around the corner, though, and found it mobbed by girls. Lucky for me, I have four more shows to come, so I'll get to hang out at one of them.

The whole experience was great. Getting to leave Pennsylvania's border, going to The Sixers' hometown, taking an hour-long walk (curse you, Taylor), seeing my friends... I hope the rest of The Walk Tour is just as amazing.

Taken from the train in New York.

This was somewhere in Connecticut.

Bathrooms on Amtrak trains rock.

Our first train ride!

Send your prayers to me... care of Bridgeport, CT and 1983!
...John Mayer fans will know what I'm talking about.

Ridin' in style in Northampton! Rental cars aren't so bad afterall.

Hanging out with Rach and Colleen before the walk.

Taylor comes to start the walk.

What are you lookin' at?

Isaac stops to talk to a little fan.

Mom back at the hotel getting ready before the show.
Her shirt says "Hanson who?" on the front.

Sixers love in Northampton.

Hanson's tour bus!

The Goose! I'm going to marry him. He just doesn't know it yet.

The morning after, mom leaves notes for the hotel maids.

Pretty pond outside of our hotel.

Got in my van and I ended up in... Boston? Okay, not quite.

Mr. GPS... our new best friend.

More reviews and pictures to come as The Walk Tour continues!