Hanson Day 2021

Tulsa, Oklahoma

May 20 – 24, 2021

If you’ve ever had the chance to attend Hanson Day in the past, you’ll know that the extended weekend is typically a whirlwind packed full of events: between multiple concerts, karaoke, the I ❤ Hanson store, the art gallery, the dance party, painting, bowling, and lines upon lines, there’s hardly time to eat or sleep. You can’t go anywhere in the Arts District or Brookside neighborhoods of Tulsa without running into a handful of fans, and if you stay for Hop Jam, you’ll hardly be able to make your way down Main Street amongst all the beer and music enthusiasts.

This year, however, was not that. I still remember that day last year when news broke that Hanson Day 2020 was going to be postponed until 2021. I think we all new it was coming, but at the time I never would have guessed that Hanson Day 2021 would also be affected. The silver lining though is that there was enough notice this time around (see what I did there?) for Hanson to come up with really great back-up plan.

The Events

Hanson put together a full week of streaming events, virtual meet-and-greets, and a full week of “pin hunting” on the website. Everything started on Monday when this year’s Fan Club EP, Crossroads, went up in the media player (and, depending on when you join/renew, available for download). I’ll get more into details on the EP in my next blog post, but it was fun to hear all these new songs and digest them via group chat with my friends. Later that night, Hanson went live and took questions from fans about the EP (and also some inevitable questions about The Masked Singer).

On Tuesday, Hanson live streamed their Hanson Time Podcast. The podcast was a new addition to Hanson.net last year as part of the virtual Hanson Day events, but this was the first time it was shared live, and it was also the first time it was shared with video. I’ll digress a bit here because I actually never blogged about this, but I had the chance to interview them on the podcast last summer. My theme was “Good Days” (both the song and the general idea), and it was such a fun opportunity. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about it, but mostly the nerves were related to the fact that it would be recorded for all members to hear; I would have been so much more nervous had the video of it been recorded as well. But, this episode’s reporter did such a great job and asked insightful questions. It was easily my favorite episode so far.

Wednesday, Hanson went live again, this time to share more about the art in this year’s gallery. Like Hanson Day galleries in the past, there were original paintings from Zac as well as some photographs from Taylor. This year, Zac also painted on a few sets of Russian Dolls, and I thought they were all really cool looking. Because this year’s gallery was virtual, in lieu of selling the art work on a first come, first serve basis, they set up a raffle system on the website’s store. I thought this was a really great idea, and I hope they keep it up in the future. This will make one less line to wait in for those who make it to Tulsa, and will still allow those who can’t travel to have a chance at purchasing the artwork.

On Thursday evening, Hanson posted a mini “making of” documentary about Crossroads. I had to watch this one twice, but only because I was only half-watching it from a Tulsa Driller’s game the first time. I always love the chance to get to peek behind the curtain when Hanson is writing and recording, and I liked this mini-doc style better than having several 2-3 minute clips like we have had in the past.

Friday was the one-year-later 20th anniversary This Time Around acoustic concert, followed by a virtual DJ Taylor dance party. On Saturday, we had the main Hanson Day concert, a brief promo video for their new project Against The World, and then they wrapped up the week with a “Night Cap” live stream on Sunday where they played a round of Pictionary with some fans, and took questions as well.

The Concerts

Of the two concerts for this year’s Hanson Day, I was much more excited about the Saturday show. When given the choice between album songs that get played at most shows or the more rare members’ tracks, I’ll always choose the latter. That said, I went into the This Time Around Acoustic Show with low expectations…. and I was blown away! Not only was it a solid performance of every song, they also mixed it up and played some of the more common songs (“If Only”, “Hand In Hand”, etc) in slightly different styles (more different than just being acoustic). They also treated us to some rare B-sides: “Lonely Again” and “Smile.” Unfortunately though, I had to deduct quite a few points from this show after my friend told me she saw “Bridges of Stone” listed as a 3rd encore song, which they ended up not playing.

One of my favorite things about the main Hanson Day concert each year is that we get to hear that year’s EP played in full, along with quite a few of the back catalogue members’ songs. I was really bummed last year when we didn’t get to hear the songs off Continental Breakfast In Bed since Hanson Day was cancelled, so I was hoping they’d make it up to us this year. Zac did play “Good Days” (which he had also played at one of the shows this past fall), but that was it. I suppose that if they had done Crossroads and CBIB, it would have been a lot of new material to learn in addition to re-working the TTA songs, plus it would throw off the number of solos during the show. I was especially disappointed when Taylor sat down at his piano for what I thought was going to be “All I Know” and instead it was the-song-that-shall-not-be-named-because-it-makes-all-my-friends-cry-and-not-in-the-good-way. In fact, only 31% of the show was members’ only songs, compared to the 70% from the Hanson Day concerts in years past. (Shout [it] Out to Hansonstage for the stats.) Despite the setlist not meeting my expectations, it was still a really great concert. They played everything so well, it was high energy, and everything about it is why “we keep coming back (yeah we keep coming back).”

The Tulsa Life

Being in Tulsa this time felt so much different than any other Tulsa trip I’ve been on. The trips over this fall and winter were so quiet compared to the typical Hanson Day weeks, but this weekend felt like a weird mix of the two. There was an Ironman Triathlon on Sunday which brought in 2,500 participants plus all their friends and family who came to support them. It made the city feel just as busy as when there’s Mayfest, the Blue Dome fest, Hanson Day, and Hop Jam, but there was still only about 1/10th the typical number of Hanson fans. My friends and I spent most of the day Sunday standing at the corner of the finish line cheering people on. I’m not a sports person, but that day I learned that running is my favorite spectator sport. It was so much fun to watch the runners’ facial expressions change and their energy pick up as they heard people cheering for them and then rounded the corner and the finish line came into sight. A few of them got emotional, and so, in turn, did I.

These past few months of shows have been unique. Even though a lot of my friends have been to the same shows that I have, we were actively not mixing our smaller groups as a Covid precaution. However, I got to see more of them this time now that we’re all vaccinated. (Please, if you haven’t yet, get vaccinated. Science is real, it’s not a new technology, and it does not contain the coronavirus. The long-term effects of getting even a mild case of Covid are unknown, and there’s only one way we’ll ever get back to normal. *Steps off soap box*) It’s been nice to have down time and explore more of the city, but I’m looking forward to hopefully having a normal Hanson Day and Hop Jam in 2022.

Hanson Day 2019

Tulsa, Oklahoma

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?

An Introduction

Well, hey there! It seems if I’m going to start a blog based primarily on the fact that I’m a fan of a particular band, I should probably start by talking about how I became a fan in the first place, and what it is about that band that keeps me “coming back for more” year after year. Two years ago, Hanson celebrated the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Middle of Nowhere, and at the time, I dusted off an old personal blog I hadn’t used in five years. So, instead of rehashing it all for you here, I’ll just link it here, then we can all move on together and fast forward to Hanson Day 2019.

Each year in May, Hanson hosts a fan club festival in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The first time I went was in 2009, and I’ve been going consistently since 2012. Tulsa, especially the Arts District, has grown a lot since that first trip, and it’s been neat to come back each year and get to see new things and try new restaurants. This year’s new Tulsa explorations included: Lone Wolf Banh Mi, Tavolo, The Goods Bodega, and of course, The Gathering Place. Since day one back in 2009, I’ve told people that it reminds me of a much smaller version of Nashville. I guess it’s fitting that it’s apparently following in Nashville’s construction footsteps as well.

Not only has the city of Tulsa grown, but the Hanson Day event has grown itself. Back in 2009, they held three sessions in a little theater (no really, it’s literally the Tulsa Little Theatre), and you could only sign up for one of the three sessions. Good luck getting into the same one as your friends! And talk about FOMO over missing the other two sessions. For the most part they were identical, but there may have been a song or two different, and of course different brotherly banter between songs. After each session, they took group photos by row. And then that was it.

Ten years later, and the Hanson Day activities included: one “storytellers” show, a String Theory show (Hanson + a symphony, technically not part of the fan club event as it was open to the public), a members’ only concert, group photos, a “State of the Band” discussion with a brief q&a, a bonus EP listening party, a painting class, an art and photo gallery, a bowling competition, a pop-up merch store, karaoke, and a dance party. Then, when that festival is over, there is also now Hanson’s beer + music festival, The Hop Jam, which they headlined this year. While I did not attend every event this year, I still think they’re going to require a blog post of their own, so stay tuned for an actual Hanson Day post “soon”.