concert reviews

Hanson at the Warner Theatre, Washington, DC, Thurday 8 July 2004

The screams at Warner Theatre on Thursday night were shrill enough for a male strip show. In fact, the event was a rock concert: Hanson, the now mostly-grown-up kids who invented "MmmBop" in 1997, followed that hit with more hooky but repetitious tunes. The largely teenage, female audience, decked out in uniforms of pleated miniskirts and flip-flops, leapt out of their seats the instant the three brothers walked onstage. They remained standing for the whole set, singing along to every word and jumping in place with their arms outstretched above their heads in complete idol worship.

American idols: Hanson's heyday may have passed, but on Thursday the group was as popular as ever with its fans here.
This stance was pretty easy to maintain for Hanson's 100-minute set: Almost every song of the night featured the same bouncy 4/4 rhythm and speedy tempo (there were a few slower songs, to which the crowd didn't react much differently). Their lyrics were rather predictable as well -- almost every song featured the words "love" or "baby" -- but every sappy admission of love sparked another piercing chorus of shrieks.

In the middle of the set, the trio's generic rock took a break when guitarist and oldest brother Isaac crooned a solo song. While his bittersweet lyrics were a little boring ("I'm sorry for being me"), his heartfelt performance gave a welcome change of pace to the otherwise monotonous night. But of course, the crowd filled every possible break in his tender song with their screams -- including the requisite "I love you!"

Opener Maria Mena faltered right from the start with vocals that were off-key and a voice so meek it was overwhelmed by her five-piece backing band. Although she gained a little confidence after an acoustic song, the crowd seemed uninterested, reserving all its energy for the workout that was to come.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 10 July 2004
.: Selected discography: Underneath (Hanson, 2004), Underneath Acoustic Live DVD (Hanson, 2004).