Anderson, IN

November 15-16, 2019

When I heard Hanson was going to be playing a show in Anderson, Indiana, my immediate reaction was “What the heck? That’s where I went to college! It’s a… nothing town!” I’m talking we would drive through the corn fields and get lost on purpose because there was nothing else to do type of town. I still don’t understand why their schedule took them there, but I was excited for the excuse to go back and be nostalgic.

We got into town Friday afternoon and I forced my friends to have lunch at a hole-in-the-wall diner called The Lemon Drop. It has about 4½ booths, a handful of barstools, and a little train that goes around the ceiling. I always loved their toasted cheeseburger, but I have to admit it didn’t taste quite as great this time around (yeah, Hanson pun intended). Maybe that’s the difference of having a bank account with more than one zero to the left of the decimal.

We spent a little time in the casino before the show (because, honestly, what else were we to do?) and I decided to go ahead and gamble a bit. I bet a total of $11 and ended with $0.03… now that’s how I remember life in Anderson. (You know… the whole broke college kid thing… mom, dad, I promise I didn’t gamble in college. They didn’t even have a casino back then.)

The concert was held in a room that is typically used to view horse races, so this was one of the stranger places I’ve seen Hanson perform (and yet somehow also my second time seeing them on a horse track this year). Here’s hoping that in 2020 we go back to some normal concert venues. The concert itself was high-energy, and no matter how many times I do this, I will never get over how nothing else in the world feels quite like being in the crowd with my friends, dancing away to our favorite songs. Zac is still not quite ready to be back on drums following his motorcycle accident, and toward the end of the show he walked right by my row playing his heart out on the cowbell. I’m ready for him to be healed and back on drums, but he makes for a great frontman and I’m curious to see if this has any impact on future Hanson shows and songs… will we end up seeing more Taylor on drums because of this? Who knows.

After the show, we went to grab some late-night dinner and drinks and, well, apparently Isaac and Taylor (and Dash & crew) had the same idea. I suppose when there’s no backstage and only one restaurant that’s open late, it ends up not being much of a coincidence. There were a couple other fans there as well, and we were all playing it cool… until MMMBop started playing over the TouchTunes jukebox. I have to admit, I immediately started judging the other fans. But, I owe them an apology as we later found out it was the restaurant manager that decided to play it. I guess when you’re in a small enough town, even a celebrity you never liked and barely remember is exciting enough to not know how to be chill. We weren’t going to ask them for photos, but as they were leaving, the staff started asking for pictures, and then so did the other fans, so we decided to go ahead as they didn’t seem to mind. So, here’s a special thanks to Isaac Tangent Man and Taylor Don Music for putting up with the ridiculousness that was Friday night.

Saturday morning, I had only one destination in mind: Deluxe Donuts. This was one of my go-to places back in college, and I knew even before leaving Nashville that this was one of the places where I had to go back. We just grabbed a couple donuts to go, and then I gave Katie and Katie (you read that right) a driving tour of campus. Five minutes later when that was done, I took them to the next (bigger) town over, Muncie. I was first introduced to Thai food in Muncie and they still have my favorite cashew nut chicken.

We then went back to campus, because the other Number One Place To Revisit on my list was Mocha Joe’s, the campus coffee shop. But, college students are lazy on the weekends, so it didn’t open until 1pm, so we had to wait until after lunch. I grabbed an (overly sweet, too-many-flavors combined) latte called I’m Dating Jesus (like… seriously) and wandered through the student center. It’s gotten quite the overhaul since I graduated in 2006, so at least now I know what I’ve been paying for all these years.

The absolute most meaningful place to me in all of Anderson, Indiana is a house I lived in for two months in the summer of 2005. In order to keep this blog a little shorter and not rehash it all, I’ll just direct you to my Instagram post here, if you’re curious enough to read about it. Anderson was always a pretty run-down town: a handful of chain restaurants and hotels near the interstate, a couple thousand college students (if that), faculty, and lower class factory workers. Going back for the first time since the Great Recession, it’s sad to see just how much worse it has gotten. I can dish out jokes about there being nothing to do there, but my heart will always go out to the people who live there and how they helped shape my early adulthood.

I’ll end this post with one more Anderson factoid: musician Jon McLaughlin grew up in Anderson, attended AU the same time I did, and now also lives in Nashville. If you’ve been following my blog, you may recall that I saw him play a show during my last night in Hawaii back in September, so now these random Hanson one-off shows have come full circle. It also feels appropriate to end with a college collage.

Minneapolis, MN

AKA: The One That Was F***ing Weird

Back on the Middle of Everywhere tour, I decided last minute to make the haul from the Grand Rapids, MI show to the next one in Minneapolis. One of my good Hanson friends lives there, and I knew other friends would be going, too. I ended up getting in town just long enough to go to the show, so I’ve been itching to go back and actually see the twin cities and properly cross Minnesota off my list of states I’ve visited. So when Hanson announced they were playing at Mystic Lake, I knew it was time to go back.

Just as I was leaving work on Thursday, Yelena told me she had a surprise: she got hooked up with front row tickets! We already had decent seats in the tiered back section, but I never expected this! I flew up after work and Yelena took me straight to Matt’s Bar for their famous Jucy Lucy: a burger with a cheese-stuffed patty, which turned out to be an absolutely delicious start to the trip.

On Friday, she took me out to the Sculpture Garden for the obligatory Cherry & Spoon photo, and then over to the Guthrie Theater which had great views of the city through some blue and yellow windows. After a trip to St. Paul for some fancy coffee at Cafe Astoria, we went back to Yelena’s to get ready for the show.

I always say Hanson concerts are weird, because you never know what might happen. Whether a tractor driving down the beach in the middle of the night, a child eat french fries in the front row, or Hanson’s offspring dressed as elves playing guitar tech for the night, crazy stuff just happens at these things.

So, here’s where things start to get weird this time. The dating app Hinge has a prompt you can put on your profile that says “Try to guess this about me…” and Yelena filled hers out with “which band have I seen live almost 100 times?” That morning, a guy commented on it and eerily said “as long as it’s not Hanson, we’re good.” So of course they started chatting, and it turns out he had been working at their concert at the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis this summer and had a bad experience with a fan who was there. (Plot twist: Yelena volunteers with BBP and had worked there with this guy a few years back!) 

After chatting with him for awhile, she told him she had an extra ticket to the show (thanks to our new front row spots) and that he should come… and he did! While they didn’t sit together for the show, the other girls and I ended up semi-“chaperoning” them on some sort of first date post-show at the casino food court. You really can’t make this stuff up.

People always ask me why I travel to see “the same concert” over and over, and I always tell them it’s never the same show. This is true, however, the one-off shows like these when they aren’t technically touring tend to all have a very similar set list. I have no problem with this, as it makes for its own sense of excitement for the familiar the same way other people travel to the same beach or family cabin every summer.  But this time they surprised us all by pulling out a song from their first album that doesn’t get played live much anymore, appropriately titled “Weird”. But this turned into a new version of the song when Taylor decided to drop the F-Bomb at the end: after all, “we all get a little bit f***ing weird sometimes”. So there are weird things number two and three.

If you aren’t a fan, or haven’t been keeping up with recent Hanson news, a few weeks back Zac had a motorcycle accident and broke three ribs, his collar bone, and his scapula. Banned from drumming, he’s been at the last few shows with his arm in a sling and his trusty cowbell. Just before this show, he was doctor-approved to be out of the sling, however he’s still not ready to drum, so we had one last chance to catch him up front and center instead of at the back of the stage behind his drum set. A unique experience for Zac and fans alike makes for weird thing number four.

Usually at a Hanson concert, the first few rows of fans are full of the high-energy “die-hards”. But this time, some of the people who own the land and some casino employees had tickets in the seats around us… people who may have never see Hanson before and probably barely remember who they even are. With several people sitting during the show while we were dancing up front, and a row of chairs behind us instead of fans trying to squeeze in, I present to you weird thing number five. This almost felt more like a private show for the cluster of friends around me. There was also a section of carpet between the stage and our seats, but security wouldn’t let us off the tile part of the floor, (apparently the carpet is hot lava after all), so we had to stand back a couple feet away from the stage. Weird Thing #6.

If you’ve ever been to a concert in your life, you know it’s pretty common for bands and artists to “end the show” and the come back out for an encore. Hanson encores typically consist of one or two of their more rock songs, but for some reason this time they ended on a ballad (weird thing #7), and a rare one at that (weird thing #8): “Song To Sing”. Isaac was in his feels that night and introduced the song by saying something along the lines of how music brings us all together and there will always be a “song to sing” for whatever life throws our way. This song actually has an extra verse that did not make the recorded version, but rather was only printed inside the back cover of the This Time Around album. As rare as hearing this song live has become, getting to hear this extra verse live is even more rare, but they chose to sing it this time (weird thing #9). This might be one of my favorite Hanson verses of all time:

“Don’t wander through this glassy surface expecting to find more than me, ‘cause what am I without a purpose but a lone mirage to see?”

Saturday morning we said goodbye to our friends who had to head back to Wisconsin, and Yelena and I went back to her place to sleep off what had turned into a very long night. We then met up with our friend Lindsey for dinner (pho) and then drinks at a cidery called Sociable. I’m not huge on beers, but I do love ciders. I couldn’t make a decision (no one who knows me should be surprised by this) so I ended up with a flight and it turns out I made the right choice.

Lindsey and her husband work at a youth ice center in town and had early shifts on Sunday morning. They graciously offered for us to meet them down there for some rides on the Zamboni. #WhenInMinnesota, I guess. We had talked about doing this for a couple months and I had been telling everyone I was more exited about the Zamboni than I was Hanson, and it did not disappoint! Then, as punishment (jk) for making me take her to the butterfly wing mural in Nashville, I made Yelena take me to the Mall of America. 

This summer, I was diagnosed with an inner-ear disorder called Ménière’s Disease, which causes episodes of tinnitus and hearing loss in one ear, dizziness, and vertigo. Between my head cold, the crazy patterns of the casino ceilings and floors, and the lights from the concert, I had been feeling off the whole weekend and even the Zamboni left me feeling a little dizzy. So I decided to play it safe and opted out of the amusement rides in the mall. But, I still wanted to go because it felt like the obligatory thing to say I did in Minneapolis. 

As we walked by a set of doors, I noticed it had started snowing. The exact words that came out of my mouth were, “It’s snowing! Why are we inside?” and I ran out the doors like a small child. I’d like to thank the city of Minneapolis for ending my trip with such a magical experience.

Just like those few flakes of snow, sometimes the most special memories on these trips are the small moments that won’t mean much of anything to anyone who wasn’t there, whether that’s a sincere thank you when you least expect it, or the “nights up late by the fireplace”. After all, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and maybe that applies to casinos in Minnesota, too.

I see you seeing me seeing you…

Philawaremore

A few years back, I decided to make a goal of visiting all 50 states before I turn 50. Last fall, my mom and I went on a road trip covering all of New England (and part of Canada). That trip left Delaware as my only state east of the Mississippi. I knew there wasn’t much to Delaware, so while I had previously been to Pennsylvania and Maryland, I decided that I wanted my next “new state” trip to be to Delaware with Philadelphia and Baltimore (new cities) included since they’re all so close together. Little did I know that plan would also end up being a Hanson trip I’ve aptly named Philawaremore.

Back in April, Hanson announced they were going to be playing the Maryland State Fair outside Baltimore. I immediately jumped on it and knew this was the perfect chance to visit these three places. My friend and I started looking into details, and soon booked flights in and out of Philly and hotels outside both Philly and Baltimore. We even started planning the specific order we wanted to see all the things in Philadelphia, because we knew our time would be limited. So of course come June Hanson threw a wrench into our plan; they announced they were also playing a show in Wilmington, Delaware the day we were flying into Philly. I immediately went into high alert mode thinking we would have to change our flights and hotels, but after we looked into the details we realized we could still pull everything off the way we had planned.

Thursday, August 22, 2019 – Wilmington, DE

After meeting my friend at the Philly airport, taking a train into the city, and renting a car (Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, anyone? #MoviesHollyHasNeverSeen), we got to Wilmington about 5 hours before show doors. We had initially planned to walk around and explore the downtown area, but we quickly realized there wasn’t much to see, unless we completely missed something. We ended up killing time in Starbucks and grabbing drinks from a bar with fun outdoor seating overlooking the river, but unfortunately it was too hot to sit outside. Really weird things kept happening, so I started saying “Delaware? More like Dumbaware”. Things such as: the same Taylor lookalike showing up at both Starbucks and the bar, a glass of water sliding off the table and shattering for no apparent reason, and Siri completely giving up on telling us how to get to our destination.

My friends and I bought ticket upgrades to this show so we could be up in the balcony and not have to worry about the general admission line. We found out day of that the upgrade included early entrance to a “pre-show party” where people could buy food and drinks beforehand. GA ticket-holders were also able to purchase access to this pre-party, and it ended up being quite the mess of miscommunication. We were eventually lead to our seats in the balcony and soon after a server came by asking if we wanted to purchase food. Going along with the “Dumbaware” theme of the day, we hadn’t even seen a menu yet. After finally viewing the menu and paying for overpriced small dishes, we later learned that our ticket upgrades also came with free food in a different room that no one told us about.

Weirdness and frustrations aside, the show was everything I had hoped it to be. I expected the typical one-off show/MOE-tour-esque set list, and Hanson delivered, although with a quite unexpected encore of “Man From Milwaukee” and “Roller Coaster Love”. Before the show, there were rumors that Ryan Phillippe, who supposedly summers in Delaware, had commented on Instagram that he’d be at the show. We did see a man matching his profile, surrounded by security, come through the balcony door and stay for a couple songs, so I imagine it was him.

Friday, August 23, 2019 – Timonium, MD

On Friday we spent the bulk of the day driving around Baltimore. We had planned to walk the harbor, but it turned out to be a rainy day. On the plus side, the rain brought with it a delightful temperature of 66° which I haven’t felt since probably around April. We had brunch at Miss Shirey’s Cafe (I ordered a delicious crab omelet with a cocktail comprised of espresso vodka, cold brew coffee, coconut milk, and chocolate syrup), and attempted, but failed, to drive out to a lookout point over the water.

We got to the fairgrounds just as the rain ended and walked around for quite some time trying to figure out how exactly to get to the entrance for the stage area. We were told it was on the west end of the horse track, and we walked over and found other fans in the area waiting. While we were waiting in line there was a horse race going on between us and the stage. This is definitely the first time I’ve had this happen at a Hanson show, but oddly I’ll be seeing them at another horse track later this year in my old college town. And speaking of old and college, a guy I went to school with, who I haven’t seen since college, sent me a message on Facebook asking if I was at the MD state fair. Turns out his wife is a Hanson fan and they live in the area and he recognized me standing in line. I found him and we chatted for a bit and I met his wife and two adorable children.

About five minutes before door time, they told us that was just where the radio meet and greet winners were to go in, and that the main entrance was on the north end of the track. By this point, there were at least 100 people in line who all had to go to the other side of the track. Imagine the chaos had this not been a seated show. There were a lot of disgruntled fans as half the seats were actually beyond the edges of the stage, so even most front row seats were not a good view.

The setlist for this show was unsurprisingly pretty similar to the Delaware show. I was hoping we would get “Compromise” instead of “On and On” again to mix it up, but I do love “On and On” so I can’t complain too much. Maybe it’s because I was in the front instead of the balcony, but it seemed like the guys had a lot more energy for this show than they had in DE, and I felt every bit my age by the end of it. Afterwards we stuck around the fair long enough to eat our share of fried foods and then went back to the hotel for some more substantial late night snacks… because sometimes you just need to eat hot crab dip while lying in bed in your pajamas.

Saturday, August 24, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA

On Saturday, we packed up the rental car and drove back up to Philly. We had a full day planned of all the sights we wanted to see. Our first stop was Liberty Bell, and what looked to be a line the length of the city block. It turns out it was just a short line to get through security, and then a long hallway where people were casually mingling around a small museum before getting to the bell. Apparently I have some Hanson Line PTSD to work through because the whole ordeal was way more stressful than it should have been. (“Why aren’t people moving faster?!”, “Why aren’t we in a single file line?!)”

We had planned to go see Independence Hall next, but tickets for the day were already sold out, so we reserved them for the next day instead. We stumbled upon The National Museum of of American Jewish History. It was free, a nice break from the sun in some air conditioning, and had a lot to look at. My favorite part was the temporary exhibit telling the story of a woman who left her abusive husband and moved to America from Belarus in the ’60s.

From the Sara Berman’s Closet exhibit

We finally made it over to Elfreths Aly, which is supposedly the oldest continuous residential street in the country. They were cute row houses, but I can’t imagine choosing to live somewhere with tourists walking up and down my street all day. (As I type this, I suddenly remember where I live; but at least the tourists stick to my work street and not my home street.) On our way to Elfreths Aly, we took a pit stop to try some famous water ice while hanging out in the courtyard of Betsy Ross’s house. Apparently water ice is neither water nor ice, but something resembling a melted popsicle: thicker than a slush, but not quite sherbet or ice cream.

Next, we went to Love park for some obligatory photos with the cities famous LOVE sculpture, and then went to the top of the One Liberty Observation Deck. Had we stuck around another hour, we would have seen what I’m sure was a gorgeous sunset over the city, but my feet were killing me (#NewShoesProblems), and we were getting hangry for some cheesesteak. We had it on good authority that the non-touristy place to go was Dalessandro’s, and it did not disappoint.

Sunday, August 25, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA

Sunday morning we headed straight to Independence Hall, where this time we had reserved tickets for a guided tour. We had lots of “Front Row Freedom” jokes, but failed in making any “Scream and Be Free” jokes. Here’s a Fun Fact About Holly™: George Washington is my second cousin, eleven (I think) generations removed. I was never big into history, but it’s always more interesting to see where everything actually happened.

Next on our list was Reading Terminal Market, which was a really fun stop to make. There were so many foods and drinks that I wish I could have brought home with me, from fresh shrimp and crab to delicious limoncello. We split the obligatory roast pork sandwich from DiNic’s, then Ubered over to The Franklin Fountain for some ice cream.

Roast Pork Sandwiches at DiNic’s

We then drove by the Philadelphia Museum of Art to take touristy pictures on the Rocky steps (#MoviesHollyHasNeverSeen). But when we couldn’t find parking and saw that they were setting up a stage for some sort of event, we realized we were too worn out from all our travels to care. It was at this point we decided to go ahead and call it a day. We weren’t sure how long the rental car return process would take, and we needed to catch a train back to the airport. We ended up with several hours to kill at PHL, which led to planning the details of our next trip in Hawaii. (Coming soon to a blog near you!)

All in all, Philadelphia was a lot of fun, while Baltimore and Delaware were a bit underwhelming. There will always be crazy stories to tell no matter where you go, and sometimes the guy you match with on a dating app will be literally checking you out of the front desk at your hotel. The nice thing about traveling for a band is that even if you end up in a very “meh” location, you at least get a great concert out of it. So here’s to the next one (and two, and three…)!

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?