Last year I broke down the weekend by days, but I didn’t feel like retreading the same ground I already covered on Twitter, so I decided to simplify this a bit.
THE GOOD: There were probably a million good things that happened, but these were the things that stood out for me.
ALL the friends: If Hanson events were only about the band, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal to attend when you can simply stream State of the Band and the concert most years from their website. For me, though, one of the biggest draws of fan events is the chance to see so many of my friends all at once. It’s like being a kid at Christmas and getting to see both sets of grandparents and most of my extended family all in the same day. I roomed with two of my best friends, talked to a fellow Isaac girl at karaoke and lectures and State of the Band (it’s always nice to appreciate Isaac with company), and saw several online friends in passing to say hi. I’m never this social at home.
New music both ways: We’ve had releases both ways: we’ve gotten the fan club EP for the year at the event, and we’ve sat in on recording during the show and received the end result later. (Agony is an eight hour drive with the first-ever live performance of “Yearbook” in my head and nothing but the album version to tide me over.) This year, we get the best of both worlds: we received the Loud EP at registration, and we heard songs at the concert from the Play EP being released later.
Isaac hosts karaoke: Isaac Hanson opening with “A Minute Without You” and closing with “Something Loud” made showing up for karaoke worth it. In between, there were people who killed it and others who blew it, and I give most of them credit for being brave enough to get up there. (But for future reference for certain participants, how to learn lyrics: Step one, listen to the song while reading lyrics from liner notes or the band’s website. Step two, when you think you have it down, take the song out for a drive sans lyric booklet. If you screw it up, return to step one. Repeat as necessary.)
Pictures with the band: I hate pestering the guys after events or during Hop Jam for pictures, so it’s pretty sweet having a scheduled photo opportunity.
Zac’s songwriting session: For the last three years, Zac’s recorded a Super Digital Pants song with us during his lecture time. This year his lecture was titled “Choo Choo Trains of Thought,” sparing us the imagery of “Drop your Digital Pants” and “Digital Pants Unzipped,” but for all the innuendo — some intentional, some not — he may as well have gone on with the no-pants theme. Sometimes I find Zac’s humor tedious, others I find it hysterical, and that day, I was crying I was laughing so hard. He probably shouldn’t quit his day job for stand-up comedy, but any time he wants to let us watch him record a song, I’m not going to say no.
No technical difficulties at the dance party: We didn’t hear any songs multiple times or have the party shut down abruptly after forty-five minutes. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we might have even made it through this one without any Mariah Carey.
Gallery prints and books: I did not get to take home a painting this year. I did get to buy a canvas print of one of them and a booklet of the rest, as well as photo prints. I’m planning the expansion of my Hanson wall as we speak.
And, of course, the concert: We heard all the new songs from Loud and four songs from Play. I don’t know if they were actually recording at the concert — they didn’t seem to have mics in the audience like they did at The Sound of Light a few years ago — but it’s fun that the audience was part of the songs. Has anyone else noticed that the more they include us, the more complicated the parts get? For a minute, I felt like I was back in high school choir.
THE BAD: Most of these were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, but there are always downsides to anything.
The liberal non-Hanson karaoke list: I stand by my drunken Twitter remark about curating a more discerning list to choose from if karaoke happens again next year. I’d love to see more classic rock and roll, more artists Hanson have toured with, and less pop bullshit.
Fanson fuckery: Somehow at the dance party, we ended up in a super-tight crowd of people on the far right side and it was almost impossible to get out to go to the bar or the bathroom. When someone tells you that their friend is standing there but went to get drinks, step back. Yes, Taylor Hanson is on the stage in front of us. No, you won’t be joining him.
Living on Hanson time, part one: I didn’t expect the State of the Band talk to start right after doors by any means, but I think we waited over an hour and a half for things to get started. In an hour and a half, we could have sat down somewhere and had a real lunch instead of just Sunchips and Dr Pepper. Admittedly, this has gotten better in recent years, but updates and an ETA would have been much appreciated.
Living on Hanson time, part two: The guys let us hear four songs they’re working on for Play. But they aren’t actually releasing those songs to us until October (I assume to compensate for Hanson time and other fuckery). As of right now, the concert is still looping on Hanson.net, but I don’t expect that to stay up for much longer. OCTOBER. What’ll we do until then!?
No Hanson set at the Hop Jam: I already wrote a post about it back when the lineup came out, but it deserves repeating: I was still disappointed they didn’t play.
THE WTF: A few things left me going, “Wait, what?”
The BTTI cutout: For some reason, Isaac thought this life-size cutout of themselves promoting Back to the Island was the coolest thing they’ve ever done. As we picked up our wristbands and membership CDs, we were encouraged to take pictures with it. Why? I don’t know. If we can afford to go to BTTI, we already signed up, and all the envy in the world isn’t going to make the cash magically appear in other people’s bank accounts.
Isaac’s lecture: He went over some things that have been on his mind: courage, and positivity, and kindness. About how you matter, but also about making things not about you. About having the courage to step up and do kind things for others. He mentioned that his faith was part of those beliefs, though he didn’t harp on it, and he might be the first person I’ve heard mention Christianity and also brain chemicals in the same discussion (generally, such subjects seem mutually exclusive). In the Strong Enough to Break documentary, they declared him the band’s pessimist. After that lecture, I have no idea what they were talking about.
“Bridges of Stone”: “Bridges of Stone” was never officially released. Not in Japan, not anywhere. (Japan’s version of This Time Around included “Smile” and “Lonely Again.”) We did hear “Bridges of Stone” at Isaac’s lecture last year, but that was only once, and I can’t believe anyone learned it well enough in one listen to sing it at karaoke even with lyrics in front of them. Knowing songs they shouldn’t was the kind of thing people were banned from the fanclub for in the past. I’m surprised Isaac didn’t catch it, and I’m even more surprised anyone touched it.