Hanson’s big welcome

by Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt on 05/05/2008

Flocking to Asheville from Maine, New York, Virginia, Tennessee and across the Carolinas, Hanson fans are willing to travel great distances to see their musical idols up-close. More than 400 screaming fans — the majority being young women between the ages of 27 and 18 — gathered in front of the Orange Peel this afternoon for a chance to join the pop band Hanson on a one-mile barefoot walk through downtown Asheville. This is the band’s 66th “Walking Tour” since September of 2007, an event that aims to raise awareness on issues of poverty and AIDS in Africa, while empowering young people to stand up for a cause that they believe in.

But traveling great distances is not the only thing Hanson fans are willing to do to show their support, as Xpress learned when talking to the crowd of Hanson fans.

Michelle Brochon of Long Island and her best friend Katie Harris of Bowdoin, Maine, traveled 18 hours straight to have a front-row view of Hanson at their sold-out Asheville performance.

“It’s a special show because it’s my birthday,” said Brochon, who had been camping out at the Orange Peel since 3:30 p.m. on Saturday (two days before the concert). Brochon, despite sleeping on the streets, enthusiastically told Xpress that Hanson’s music means the world to her because, “They’re my age and they’re easy to relate too. They could have stopped making music, they could have sold out, but they didn’t and they keep making music on their own terms.”

Brochon and Harris were two of the five people who camped out for two-nights at the Orange Peel, and were joined by 60 others on Sunday night.

Along with camping gear, Hanson fans sported hand-made signs, one of which read: “We’re Walking A Mile W/ No Shoes On … What Are You Doing Today?” Other fans proudly displayed their tattoos inspired by the Hanson logo and by lyrics from their songs. One fan had the phrase: “Don’t lose yourself in your fear” tattooed on her forearm.

When the three Hanson brothers emerged from inside the Orange Peel, they were welcomed with ear-shattering screams and a cheer that seemed to ring through the city. They walked from the Orange Peel to Pritchard Park, where Taylor took out his mega-phone and began sharing stories about “The Walk” and the impact it’s made on raising awareness and energy in their generation. “We are the army of hope,” Taylor proclaimed. “We are not an underestimated generation, we have the capacity to make a difference.”

Needless to say, Hanson received a warm welcome from their local fan-base here in Asheville.