Well, I neglected the ol' bloggo on Friday because I was busing hanging with my boys Zac, Taylor, and Isaac. Yep, I went to see Hanson in Asheville Friday night. Jealous? Probably not considering the number of my friends who completely discount them based entirely on their former 90s boy band status and that one silly song they sang. And their girly haircuts, right? But I would hope most of you are now enlightened enough to see the problems with that.
Actually, they were three reasonably talented and driven boys who have grown into three very talented, driven, and conscientious men. If you have any doubts about their talent or growth as musicians, just check out their latest single:
This show was absolutely the best concert I've ever been to. Yes, it even beats Tegan and Sara. Maybe because I didn't have a friend there drunkenly harassing Taylor, but mostly because their energy was up, their personalities really shone through on stage (Taylor-charismatic, Isaac-chill, Zac-a little shy), they gladly played all the old favorites (not begrudgingly like some artists), and the old music held up well against the new music, which is truly fantastic. The audience was also the most unified I have ever been a part of. We sang along with an incredible clarity and I felt a sort of sense of community as most of us were women in our 20s who have loved these guys since elementary school. Some guy dressed as a Blue's Brother was invited up on stage during one of my favorite songs and one girl in the audience got pulled up to actually dance with Taylor. I felt like I was eight years old again, and thirteen, and seventeen, and twenty all at the same time. It was the best Friday night I'd had in a long time. I really can't remember when I've smiled so much, and even through the intense pain in my feet that was caused by what I really want to talk about today.
Three years ago in conjunction with the release of their album The Walk, Hanson started an activism project called Take the Walk wherein the brothers meet up with fans before a show to walk a mile in an African child's lack of shoes to raise money to help with the AIDS crisis and other aspects of poverty in Africa. They give one dollar for each mile walked, and as of Friday enough people had walked enough miles to circle the globe twice. Each walker has the option to put their dollar towards clean water wells, shoes, HIV/AIDS treatment, schools, or telephone service to access health care. We also have the option to match our dollar or donate more. After burning my feet on the streets of Asheville, I was really feeling for the kids without shoes, but I chose clean water, I guess because without clean water you'll die of disease or dehydration before any of the other things matter too much.
Hanson works with TOMS Shoes on the barefoot bit, and probably got the idea of barefoot walks from the company who sponsors One Day Without Shoes every year to raise awareness about the importance of shoes to the people who don't have them. But Taylor kept reminding us that our walk was not primarily an awareness walk (though we did get people asking questions). No, Hanson's Walk is about people coming together and taking action and inspiring others to do the same. And I left feeling really empowered despite--and maybe in part because of--the pain, but I can't help but think it isn't enough. Don't get me wrong, what they're doing is really fantastic, and they have made huge differences to individual lives, but they're really just treating the symptoms in a way. How can we take it a step further and break the poverty cycle, both abroad and at home? I just feel like the world's problems are so much bigger than any of us and I start to lose hope. But that's what the walk is about, I guess: hope, inspiration, change. Coming together so the problems don't seem quite so big. But I still want to break down the system. And maybe learn that sweet dance up there. ;)