Hanson Day 2023

May 10 – 13, 2023

The Travel

Why does it seem like every single trip I take has some sort of travel mishap that’s worth its own section in the blog? (Spoiler alert: my Riverside, Iowa show review will have a travel paragraph, too.) Things started out smoothly for me with an early-morning on-time flight from Nashville to Houston. However, Houston ended up having some bad weather leaving us in a holding pattern for most of what should have been a decent layover. By the time we landed, my flight to Tulsa was already boarding and I had to literally run to make it to my plane. So much for scoring that Southwest Boarding Group A. I lucked out though and managed to find one last open window seat toward the back of the plane, and it turns out I wasn’t the only one delayed and they held the plane for a few more people.

When I loaded my suitcase into the back of an Uber in Tulsa, I noticed the zipper had ripped from the seam. (Not only that, but my friend’s suitcase handle was broken. We were on totally separate flights, so somehow it seems Tulsa is to blame.) When unloading in the hotel, I realized the zipper wasn’t just ripped a little bit, it was ripped half-way down the suitcase. Shout out to packing cubes for keeping all of my belongings in tact. If I was going straight home after Hanson Day, I might have bought some duct tape and tried to deal with it. But I had four flights, a road trip, and two states before I’d be home. One Amazon delivery to the hotel later, I had a new suitcase for the rest of the trip.

The Events

A few days before leaving for Tulsa, Food On The Move announced they’d be hosting a Hanson Day lunch where Taylor would be speaking about the the initiative and the future projects they have planned, along with a tour of the gardening pods. My flight out was already booked early enough that I’d be getting there just in time, so it all worked out. It was neat to hear him talk more about the project, and he and his team seem really excited about the ways they’ll be able to help feed even more people in Tulsa. However, due to other obligations, my friends and I weren’t able to stick around long enough to tour the pods.

Since 2020, Hanson has incorporated several virtual events into Hanson Day which is a great way for those who can’t travel to be involved. This year, that included a stream of the new fan club EP, Ambient, and a mini-documentary discussing each song. I tried to watch it in my hotel room, but was pretty distracted by having all my friends around, so I plan to re-watch it when I finally get back to Nashville. (Stay tuned for my Ambient review; it needs a few more listens.)

New this year was an in-person Scavenger Hunt for virtual Hnet pins. This is something I’ve been wanting them to do for awhile, so I was happy to see it happen! I did expect it to be all in-person though, more running around town checking in and less playing around on the website, but at the same time I’m glad we didn’t need a rental car or a million Uber rides to make it happen. The farthest away pin was about a mile away from 3CG/the hotel area, which is walkable for most. (The keyword there is *most*). My friend and I were capable of walking the mile and back, but opted to scoot around town instead which was so much fun and saved us a lot of time. At this point, I’m familiar enough with Tulsa that I found most clues were easy enough to solve, except for one that needed a little extra hint from a friend.

Last year, Hanson introduced a Live HTP into the Hanson Day schedule, and it was back again this year. This is such a fun addition and I’m glad I was able to snag a ticket. I do think this is something that could be moved to Cain’s to allow more people to attend, but either way I hope it sticks around. Isaac was out of his mind and I watched a literal tear (just one, not Two Tears) fall from his eyes at his own fart joke, and Taylor and Zac had a hard time not laughing at Isaac losing it. They spoke a little about writing Ambient, and a little about Underneath Acoustic. I don’t remember exactly how the question was phrased, but they were essentially asked about why they keep skipping over anniversaries of other albums like The Walk, Shout It Out, and Anthem, and they essentially just said that they can only celebrate one album at a time. Which, sure, but if we’re going to keep doing anniversaries, I really need us to skip over the first three and focus on the last three for a change.

Karaoke was a fun time as usual, but I was so exhausted at this point (from some very late-night pre-HDay activities), I ended up leaving about an hour early. It seemed like Isaac joined in more than normal which always makes it great, and apparently he learned that night that “Barbie Girl” is not as clean as he had thought. I guess it makes sense since he was in his own promotional tour bubble when it came out.

I loved all of the artwork at the gallery this year, particularly the main painting of the Ambient logo. A few months ago, I completely redecorated everything in my house and am completely out of blank wall space. This made for some great self-restraint and as such, I didn’t buy anything from the gallery this year. But if I had space, I absolutely would have bought a print of the Ambient painting. This was also the painting they replicated for the painting class, which I opted out of this year. I know they probably don’t even know what they’re going to do when tickets go on sale, but I wish that we could know what we would be painting before we signed up. I’d be much more likely to sign up if I knew it was going to be something more like a mountain and sunset and not something like a rainbow-puking Chinese take-out box.

They added a new Skatercise event this year that I opted out of for fear of breaking an ankle. I know a lot of people seemed excited to sign up, but I actually never saw any photos, videos, or posts about it. If you went, how was it? I did sign up for bowling again this year, and again was assigned the early morning shift, which I don’t mind. Did I get the most gutter balls for my team? Yes. Did I get the most strikes for my team? Also yes. I have never been a great bowler, so my goal was just to beat the lowest-scoring member of the team in the lane next to us, and I failed that goal by 2 points. I guess there’s always next year. 🤣

They added back an old lecture event this year with Isaac’s Grace Unknown Live. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from it as I know the last time he did this there were some very mixed reviews. He brought in a friend, Charlie Baker, who is a counselor and executive coach. They both talked about how we react to negative events and the importance of taking the time to think through our reactions and how to react rationally. Charlie asked Isaac to share some stories from his life where he reacted poorly and helped him think through how he could have changed the situation. It was a lot of good info, but it’s always hard to to remember these things in the moment.

This year’s dance party was neon themed, and I was impressed with how extra everyone dressed. I thought the 10pm start time felt late, but then my TimeHop reminded me that at one point, it started at midnight. DJ J-Tay has definitely stepped up his game, and it was such a fun way to end the weekend. My apologies to the Fairfield for how many neon accessories were likely left behind. (And for the discarded suitcase.)

The Shows

When Hanson announced the Underneath Acoustic Revisited show would be on the floor and in the round, my immediate first thought was that I would not actually be able to see Hanson at all. When I got into Cain’s, I managed to grab an end seat on the far right only a few rows back, and I was pleasantly surprised to see they were up on a riser. I couldn’t see Taylor for most of the show, but had great views of Zac and Isaac. In the end, I’m glad they made the choice to not be up on the stage as it certainly felt more intimate and special. I wasn’t there for the original Underneath Acoustic recording, so I’m curious how the two compared. The highlight of the night was by far the performance of “Love Somebody to Know”, the fan-favorite b-side that hasn’t seen the light of day in 20 years, save for one BTTI Taylor solo. This was my first time hearing it, and I hope it wasn’t my last.

I had hoped they would play “Down” at the main members’ show to keep in theme with the Underneath era, but certainly did not expect it to be the opening song of the acoustic show. It’s another favorite of mine that we don’t get to hear enough. The only other time I heard “Teach Your Children” was back on the Roots ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour, and this was my first time hearing “Rip It Up”. Overall, I was blown away by the rarity of the set list, especially considering how often the Underneath theme pops up. (And a huge shout out to Hansonstage for helping me keep track of what I’ve heard!)

While I wish the main show had a few more members songs in it, starting off with “Sound of Light” was an unexpected surprise. This is one of those members only songs that doesn’t get played as often as it should for being such a fan-favorite. Between that and “No Rest For the Weary”, “Tragic Symphony”, and an encore of “Tonight”, the set-list felt like an odd nod to String Theory, but these are all great songs, so no complaints here. I will never understand the choice of “Weird” as a first encore song, but overall the night was the high-energy, stellar performance I’ve grown accustom to from this band that keeps me coming back for more. (Can we pull that one out of the vault next?) Hanson Day 2023: another great year in the books.

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