Wednesday, May 15, 2019
After years of driving 9+ hours from Nashville, to Tulsa, this year I decided to fly. Even with a 4-hour layover in Dallas, it still took significantly less time than driving. While the official Hanson Day events didn’t start until Thursday, I chose to arrive Wednesday afternoon to get settled in and spend time with some of my friends before our schedules got too full of Hanson activities. I was about to head off to a grocery store to stock my room full of bottled water and snacks when I heard they had just opened a pop-up registration line at 3CG. Whoever made that decision, thank you! I was registered in less than an hour, and it meant one less
thing line to worry about Thursday. After picking up our EPs and wristbands, we headed straight back to my room. I had packed my laptop for the sole purpose of importing the EP so I could have it immediately on my phone to listen to it throughout the weekend. I’ll post my review of the EP in the next couple days. I don’t know if pop-up registration will work in the future if fans expect it to happen, but this was one of the best choices Team Hanson made this year.
Thursday, May 16, 2019
If you’ve ever been to Hanson Day, or have heard anything about it, you can probably guess that I spent the majority of Thursday morning waiting in line to buy merch from the I ❤️ Hanson Store. I’m thankful the team has started to put the items up on the website, so I walked into 3CG knowing exactly what I wanted to buy. Per usual, I walked away with more than I probably should have let myself: the “Oh Snap” t-shirt, the sticker set (I LOVE that they included a magnet this year), the “Roll the windows down” keychain (I did name my car Penny after all), shot glasses, the espresso mug, the yellow walkie talkie pin, the gallery memento book, and two postcards (one to keep, one to mail to my nieces).
This year we got a show on Thursday: The “Storytellers” show. At this point, I think they need to just rename it the “bonus semi-acoustic show”, because they sure don’t tell any stories. The first year, they played songs from Middle of Nowhere and 3 Car Garage, last year they played songs from This Time Around, and this year they played songs from Underneath. I predict Hanson Day 2020 will include a “Storytellers” show featuring songs from The Walk. If I’m right, I won’t be mad about it. The song highlights for me were “Down”, “Dancing In The Wind”, and Isaac’s cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine”. Isaac in particular slayed this set, and it was a great show. I just hope that sometime soon we can hear a full-band/electric version of “Dancing In The Wind” for the rare occurrence of Taylor on electric guitar.
For the past few years, Thursday night has meant Karaoke night. I have absolutely no interest in participating in karaoke, but I love being a spectator at Hanson Day. While I felt this year was a little too heavy on the Hanson songs, where else do you get to hear Hanson songs sung in a karaoke setting? I mostly end up using the event as a second dance party, acting a fool with my friends in the back. I would be interested to see if it’d work at a bigger venue like Cain’s so more people can attend, but the more intimate setting of the Vanguard seems hard to beat.
Friday, May 17, 2019
We took it slow Friday morning, taking our time to get ready for the day’s first event: Group Photos. This year, they added a new backdrop to the photos: a curtain full of the H@Day symbols. I think it’ll be a nice touch, so I hope they keep it going. We’ll have to wait and see how the final product turns out, though.
After the photos, my friend and I went straight to the Art Gallery. This year for the gallery, they advertised a virtual reality video to go with one of the EP songs. The video was not available when we were there, but I think I might have passed on it anyway. I’ve never experienced VR, and I’d like to some day, but I wasn’t keen on the idea of putting something on my face that 100 other sweaty Hanson fans had already put on their faces. Zac’s paintings ranged from String Theory inspiration to food, thanks to Edible Digital Pants. This year, I gravitated mostly toward Taylor’s photos. I haven’t loved the band photos he’s had the past few years, so I was excited to see that these were in fact more In Real Life inspired, similar to the first photo gallery from 2012. I bought a print of a broken-down piano, and I’m anxious to get it framed and hung.
After the gallery, I went to one of the Listening Party sessions. This year we heard Edible Digital Pants. I don’t know why, but teenage me was obsessed with songs that can be only defined as “high quality nonsense”. If any of you grew up with Christian music, you might be familiar with songs like Five Iron Frenzy’s “Pants Rock Opera” or Relient K’s “Staples”. These songs were my jam, so it’s no surprise that it was actually “Man From Milwaukee”, not “MMMBop”, that had me running to Walmart to buy Middle of Nowhere back in 1997. So, while the digital pants songs will never be something I’d play to try to convert someone to the fandom, I think they’ll always hold a special place in my heart. I won’t do a thorough review of this EP, but I want to dance away to “Ice Cream Man”, and I’m amazed at Zac’s ability to make “Where You Want To Go” sound like a real song on the surface. I mean, “I’ve been trying to have a little heart-to-heart, ’cause I don’t feel you’ve been satisfied with all my choices lately” is a high quality no-nonsense line. The lunch box was a fun add-on, even though I’m slightly convinced we may have received the Hanson kids’ leftover Halloween candy with it. My plan is to stock it full of various Hanson trinkets over the next few years.
Friday’s main event, though technically not specific to Hanson Day, was the sold out String Theory show. I had the privilege of attending 5 String Theory shows prior to this (plus the “Stringless” Theory show at BTTI), and this was my favorite one, hands-down. In fact, it became my favorite Hanson show of all time, bumping Birmingham, AL Anthem Tour down to 2nd place and Summerfest 2012 down to 3rd. My friend and I thought we bought 4th row seats, but we showed up and there were three rows of pit reserved for Hanson’s family and friends, so we were really 7th row. This actually turned out to be a nice surprise for me. We were still close enough to see perfectly, and just far back enough to get the full picture. We were just Zac-side of center, and it ended up being my favorite spot I sat for String Theory (over front row, 3rd row, somewhereinthemiddlerow, and balcony).
What made this show so great? There’s a combination of factors. The show was sold out to a crowd that was more excited to be there than other ST crowds I had been in, and much more well behaved (save for only a couple cat-calls). It was neat to see Hanson’s family front and center – something they never get to experience – imagining how proud I’m sure they all were, especially their parents. This show sounded better than any other String Theory show I had been to. Whether it’s where I was sitting, a presumably more-rehearsed symphony, better sound engineering, or a combination of all these factors, it was beautiful. The highlight of the night was at the end, during “Tonight”, with a room full of fans singing a chorus of “don’t wait for tomorrow” while swaying phone flashlights. At one point, I caught Zac’s face looking into the crowd with a huge grin on his face, and I can only imagine what he was feeling in that moment. It’s one I’ll remember forever.
After String Theory was the Dance Party. Last year they brought in a photo booth, and it made an appearance again this year. This is a fun addition, and I hope they keep bringing it back. This year they also added Hanson Fatheads. While there weren’t enough to go around, it was still fun to see them floating around in the crowd. This year, Taylor took song requests via Hanson.net before the weekend started. I’m terrible with pop culture, so I didn’t suggest anything, nor did I pay attention to what people were requesting. I don’t know how much he stuck to the requests, but I do know this was the first Hanson dance party where I actually new most of the songs, and the crowd seemed to have an extra dose of excitement to dance away. Or maybe that’s just because we had a seated show beforehand and therefore weren’t quite as exhausted.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
I had tickets to a Painting Class session on Saturday morning. We woke up Saturday to an absolute downpour, and my friend and I decided we would much rather just stay in bed all day than go to the painting class after all. I’m an introvert, and a morning person. What this means for me is that I usually come home from Hanson Day weekend absolutely exhausted. This year I did not. I think it’s partially because I flew instead of driving, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that my roommates and I basically stayed in our hotel room all day Saturday, pretty much until just before show time. It seems a lot of people stayed in Saturday: plenty of ridiculous fathead photos were surfacing on Facebook as we all were keeping ourselves entertained indoors.
Saturday night was the State of the Band and the main Members’ Only Event. During the State of the Band, we learned Hanson plans to record two albums this year, releasing one in 2020 followed by a world tour (title: Hanson: Against The World), and the other in 2021. They did say something along the lines of being inspired by music from around the world, and releasing it “the way music is released in 2020″… whatever that means, we’ll have to wait and find out. They also hinted at a run of fall 2019 shows previewing the new music, similar to the Underneath Acoustic Tour. I’m anxious to learn more details about this. The show itself was what I’ve come to expect from a Hanson Day show: hearing all the new EP songs live with a mix of old members’ songs and a few fan favorites. Highlights from this year’s show for me were an almost-solo version of “Crazy Beautiful”, “Somebody That Wants To Love You”, and “Something Loud”.
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Sunday morning, my roommates and I Ubered all over town visiting the places we hadn’t had the chance to see yet this year: Buck Atom’s, the original Ida Red, The Brook diner, and The Gathering Place. We then had time to take a nap before heading down to The Hop Jam. We got there just in time to see Joshua + The Holy Rollers. (For those not in the know: the band’s frontman is “little” Hanson bro Mac.) I didn’t want to like J+TH just because it was “the other brother”, but I fell in love with their debut EP, was looking forward to seeing them live, and they did not disappoint. Here’s hoping they make their way to the southeast someday. I tried a few new (to me) beers this year, and all my favorites were stouts: Hanson Brothers Beer’s Second Breakfast, 4 Hands Brewing Co’s Chocolate Milk Stout, and Founder’s CBS (coffee chocolate bourbon maple stout).
Hanson headlined the festival again this year, which is always a bonus. While the set list was semi-predictable, as most festival shows are, and my friends were too tired to even stand, it was still the perfect way to wrap up a fantastic weekend. Monday morning came, and with it tornado warnings. We weren’t sure we would “Make It Out Alive”, but at the end of
the day the next day, “all my friends were home”. It’s always sad to say goodbye and go back to living In Real Life, but this year we know we can already look forward to Hanson Day and The Hop Jam on May 14 – 17, 2020. Will I see you there?