From the closet to the photo pit: A 20-year Hanson journey
During the Tour, many wonderful pictures are shared on Instagram to the delight of the Hanson fan community.
We saw @jocobzinn pictures from the Vogue Theatre, Vancouver and asked him to tell us his story of photographing Hanson on this tour.
What he shared with us is a fabulous adventure in loving good music.
Last week, I got to cross off one of the top bands on my concert photography bucket list: Hanson.
I’ve been photographing concerts for the last six years, and though I often shoot more hard rock, metal and punk shows, I wanted to photograph Hanson when they were in town. Their music has been a significant part of my life (most people don’t know that), and only after the show did I realize just how much of an impact they’ve left.
See, twenty years before I got to photograph Hanson, I was a closet fan.
Flipping channels one day in 1997, I landed on the “MMMBop” music video. Until that point, I had never expressed any interest in music, but the infectious chorus and pop-rock sound hooked me instantly. Nine-year-old me took note of how young Taylor, Isaac and Zac were – not much older than myself at all! And yet here they were, performing music on my TV.
Only one of my friends was into Hanson back then. The rest were indifferent to music, so sharing my interest in the band was mostly a no-go. My friends just cared about Pokémon cards and video games, so I was left to listen to Middle of Nowhere on cassette by myself.
Yet, even though my friends weren’t interested in Hanson, I knew their music was something special. They were talented: they played their own instruments, they wrote their own songs, they could harmonize – they made really good music, despite being lumped in with autotuned boy bands. I read magazines like Tiger Beat and put their posters all over my walls. I bought Snowed In, 3 Car Garage and Live from Albertane and listened to them constantly.
Then This Time Around came out – it had more of a rock sound, which appealed to me as I neared becoming a teenager. My parents bought me tickets to their Vancouver show at The Orpheum in 2000 and I dragged a friend along for the show (not the one who was a fan). He sat for most of it, but I was on my feet the whole time behind hordes of screaming girls, feeling the music at my first live concert.
After that summer, I ended up switching schools heading into seventh grade. A new school meant new friends, and for an 11-year-old, I was very conscious about how I would be perceived. I didn’t bring up Hanson, or any music for that matter, for fear of saying the wrong thing or making myself a target for bullying.
Hanson (and pop music in general) wasn’t considered cool for boys to listen to, so I took all my posters down and hid my cassettes and CDs when my new friends came over. I don’t know if they would’ve cared back then, but I didn’t want to risk social alienation.
I shoved Hanson – the first band I ever got into – under my bed, into the bottom of drawers, and into the back of my closet.
In high school, my musical tastes changed. As pop music faded from the spotlight, I started listening to louder genres like classic rock (AC/DC), pop-punk (blink-182), alternative (Brand New) and nu metal (Linkin Park). The bands in parentheses became my new favourites and I felt their music spoke to me more at that time.
Hanson became an afterthought. They were still making music, but I’d convinced myself that I was no longer part of their target audience, that their music wasn’t meant for me anymore. I was an angsty teenager and I felt I needed music that was more aggressive for emotional release.
Over time, I matured as a person, but maintained an interest in the bands from my youth. That music had progressed with me into adulthood. And yet, Hanson had also progressed, I just hadn’t realized it.
Aside from that Orpheum show in 2000, I didn’t really start going to concerts regularly until 2004 when I saw Linkin Park for the first time. I was old enough to more adequately appreciate the experience, and it wasn’t long before concerts became a frequent occurrence.
Nothing felt better than seeing a band I loved live, like Brand New in 2007, or blink-182 and AC/DC in 2009. I made a point to see the aforementioned four bands numerous times because, at different stages in my life, they were my favourite bands.
Then, in 2011, while studying journalism, I started doing concert photography through my university’s student newspaper. It instantly became my biggest passion, and I took up the goal of photographing every band I was even remotely interested in.
When I graduated, I pursued different websites that showcased live music and continued photographing all kinds of artists, from bands I knew and loved to ones I’d never heard of.
Hanson had been all but forgotten. Again, I knew they were still making music, but I hadn’t heard any of it and I didn’t know if I would like it.
That all changed last week.
The opportunity came up to photograph Hanson and I took it. I went early to the Vogue Theatre (a venue I’ve been to a hundred times, around the corner from the Orpheum) and made my way to the photo pit.
I talked with a nurse in the front row who, like me, started listening to Hanson in the late ’90s. She asked if I was a fan and something clicked in my mind as more of my memories flooded back.
Before AC/DC, before Brand New, before Linkin Park, before blink-182, there was Hanson, and I realized without seeing “MMMBop” on TV in 1997, I might not have been standing in that photo pit twenty years later.
Then the lights went out and Hanson came onstage. I photographed the first three songs (“Where’s the Love” was a nostalgia trip for me) before returning to the crowd to watch the rest of their amazing set.
It had been years since I’d heard any Hanson songs and I was surprised with how many I recognized and how much of the lyrics I remembered, stretching back to my childhood. Furthermore, I was astounded by how good the songs were, both ones I had and hadn’t heard – the songs off Middle of Nowhere and This Time Around have held up extremely well, and everything else sounded just as good.
In my absence, Hanson kept up their high-level songwriting and performances. Nine-year-old me was right about their exceptional musical ability – Hanson was, and always has been, better than people have given them credit for.
The other 1,100 people in the Vogue knew that, and in that moment of realization, I felt proud to be a fan.
I’m now exploring all the Hanson albums I missed in my hiatus and reconnecting with a band that truly changed my life. I owe my passion for music (and, by relation, concert photography) to Taylor, Isaac and Zac.
Photographing them is a big one off the bucket list, and I hope I get the opportunity again someday.
Many thanks to Jacob Zinn and VIES Magazine for these reflections and Photos. Find the full gallery from the Vogue Theatre at VIES Magazine