Hanson comeback at Higher Ground, never left

Camping out is prohibited at Higher Ground. Apparently.

On the night of April 22 – the eve of Hanson’s Higher Ground debut – Jason Held, a Higher Ground security guard, assisted in ushering concert go-ers out of the venue around 11:15 p.m.

Much to his surprise, Held saw a group of 15 or so college girls “camping out” on picnic blankets in the parking lot.

When he and a fellow security guard checked out for the night two hours later, the girls were still there.

Last Wednesday night the brothers – now all in their 20s, married and with children – performed at Higher Ground.

When the show was announced, many of us sat in wonder at what a night with Hanson — whose name many of us hadn’t heard since the early years of middle school – would be like.

But the Tulsa brothers have some seriously devout fans. So devout, in fact, that those who weren’t camping in the parking lot nearly 24 hours before the band would take the stage, made their way to the venue as early as Wednesday morning to wait in line for the show.

Held said that he and Higher Ground staff anticipated the excitement for the sold-out performance. But the campers came as quite a surprise.

“We got tons of phone calls yesterday asking if people could camp out,” Held said. “Once in a while we’ll get fans of bands who are playing two or three nights in a row who will ask if they can leave their cars here,” Held said. “But I’ve never, ever heard of anyone camping out. We didn’t really know what to do.”

Scheduled to perform at 9:45 p.m. after performances by opening acts Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers and Kate Voegele, Hanson didn’t make their appearance until just before 11 p.m, due to a power-outage.

Finally, to the sound of music as epic as the Star Wars theme song, Hanson – that is, Isaac, 27, Taylor, 25 and Zac, 22 – moseyed onto the stage as the rather piercing screams of a sold-out crowd of almost entirely all college-aged girls grew louder.

Opening with “The Great Divide,” a track off their most recent album The Walk, the band carried on with everything from a cover of Wilson Pickett’s “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” to an acoustic version of “Mmmbop” (that sounded shockingly similar to the way it did in 1997).

And those screaming fans screamed just as loudly as they must have when the Hanson brothers were just boys. They sang every word to every song; cheered just as joyously as ever when Taylor walked the length of the stage encouraging us to sing along with his brothers and him.

Whether you were there for the 5th-grader in you or because you’re one of those diehard fans that’s been following them since way back when, the Hanson brothers have made it clear that they’re not going anywhere.

But it was fans camping out in the Higher Ground parking lot and lining up early on Wednesday morning that are proof that they never left.