I fell in love with them all over again’
Hanson fans reconnect with the band that touched their childhood
Allie Townsend |IDS | 12/3/2007

As she sat smiling in her wheelchair, Paula Holtsclaw pointed to the picture on her Hanson T-shirt. Thursday night’s concert had just ended, and Holtsclaw, along with hundreds of other Hanson fans, were in high spirits.

“I’ve been listening to them for 10 years,” Holtsclaw, 44, said. “I’m their No. 1 fan.”

Holtsclaw’s sister, Susan Lee, nodded in agreement.

“She loves them,” Lee said. “We told her she was going to a musical tonight and she had no idea until they took the stage that it was Hanson. She was so happy.”

But like so many at The Bluebird on Thursday, Holtsclaw’s biggest wish was to get a glimpse of the three blond brothers in person.

“I just wanna meet Hanson so darn bad it’s not even funny,” she said as she once again looked down at the T-shirt she wears backwards so that she can see the photo of the band whenever she likes.

What would Holtsclaw do if she ever did meet the band?

“I would, I would cry or scream, or…oh, I would be so happy,” she said.

IU senior Kendra Westerfeld might not have met the brothers in person, but she was still moved to tears. She came with friends to celebrate her birthday, and danced on the floor holding her, “I’m 22 today” sign high in the air.

“I heard they weren’t going to play ‘MMMBop’ and I was so sad,” she said. “I loved (Hanson) when I was younger and I decided to come for my birthday. Then they actually did play it and I started crying.”

Westerfeld was lured to the show like so many other Bloomington fans – with the sounds of 1997’s number one hit, “MMMBop” still ringing in their ears. But now, fans are enjoying the band’s new music.

“I went back and listened to all of their newer stuff before the show, and I liked it,” Westerfeld said. “I changed the music on my MySpace page and everything. I don’t care what people think; they’re great.”

Other fans made their commitment to the band all over again, too. Friends Haley Frankenberg, Jennie Arad and Nicole Powell were still gushing as they rested in a corner not long after Hanson took their final bow.

“This was the most underrated concert of the year,” Frankenberg said, smiling. “I fell in love with them all over again.”

The other girls couldn’t agree more. What they couldn’t agree on, though, was which member was their favorite or which song was the best.

“They connect to their audience better than any other band,” Arad said as she and the others sat laughing and debating. “We were yelling so loud.”

While screaming fans hoped the band got their message of devotion, Hanson closed the show with a message of their own, a message of hope.

Isaac, 27, Taylor, 24, and Zac, 22, ended their first show after a Thanksgiving trip to Africa with a message about suffering and what can be done to help.

“It is with people like you, who went on The Walk today and who come to this show, who can make a difference,” Taylor said to the crowd. “You can make an incredible difference in someone’s life.”

The band, in collaboration with TOMS Shoes, delivered more than 50,000 pairs of shoes to African men, women and children in an effort to ease the suffering of poverty and AIDS on the continent.

Fans Sarah Hayden, 22, and Brandie Stogsdill, 23, of Martinsville, Ind., got the message loud and clear.

“This is one of the reasons why I love them,” Stogdill said. “They’re so smart. Their lyrics are clever and intelligent and they are genuinely trying to help people. I think it’s great.”

As the crowd thinned, Holtsclaw and company still waited by the door, staring longingly at the Hanson tour bus, parked on the street.

And then a door opened.

“It’s Zac!”

As a crowd swarmed around the youngest Hanson, Holtsclaw’s sister managed to finagle the wheelchair to the front.

As Zac Hanson bent down to hug Holtsclaw, the only thing she could blurt out through her tears was, “Taylor!”

“Oh, no, I’m so embarrassed,” she said. “Sorry, Zac.”

“It’s ok,” he said. “It’s nice to meet you.”