Nielsen has stated that he wrote the song because in its early days the band did not always get a soundcheck before it played live. Rather than use one of their more melodic songs to experiment with the sound coming out of the PA system, they could use this song, which Nielsen called a "perfect welcome to the show intro piece." Nielsen said he got the idea for such an intro song from an earlier band, Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera. "Hello There" replaced "ELO Kiddies" as Cheap Trick's live opening song. It was the band's typical live opener from 1977 through the mid-1980s.
Nielsen wrote a companion song to "Hello There" called "Goodnight Now." "Goodnight Now" basically reworks "Hello There" and was used by the band to end their main set, or the entire show, for many years. The song appears on Cheap Trick at Budokan as the next to last song, before the encore "Clock Strikes Ten". At the actual concert the album was taken from "Ain't That a Shame" was played as part of the encore, after "Goodnight Now" and before "Clock Strikes Ten", but the original album release of Live at Budokan moved "Ain't That a Shame" out of sequence to open side 2. In the Netherlands, "Goodnight Now" was released as the B-side of the top 10 single "Surrender".