Top Twenty-five. . . ish.

Hanson asked recently for “Your Top 25 HANSON Songs,” which twenty-five songs we’d choose to introduce someone to the band. I got as far as copying the list of options into Notepad and started nervous laughing. Even though I have favorites lists going back to ’97, a decade of last.fm playcounts, and some time spent thinking on this exact matter already, Hanson have set a task that is not doable — this is worse than the Triwizard Tournament.
I could give them Hanson 101, easy, the stuff the most casual fans or non-fans might already know: the singles that received radio play and were performed on TV, and the songs that get frequent concert play. “MMMBop.” “Where’s the Love.” “Minute.” “With You In Your Dreams.” “TTA.” “If Only.” “Penny and Me.” “Great Divide.” “Go.” “Watch Over Me.” “TBS.” “GAL.” “Fired Up.” “GTGB.” But I’m not satisfied with scratching the surface when I know what’s there if you dig deep. I’d only recommend starting with Hanson 101 if you meant to start there and continue onward; it’s a 101 that begs a 102 (other album tracks), 201 (bonus tracks, live albums, common covers), 301 (soundtracks, non-fanclub EPs, bonus discs, rare covers), 401 (fanclub EPs and fanclub-exclusive releases), and 501 (Digital Pants and other oddities). If you’re only looking for a one-shot sampler, that’s another matter altogether.
They’re asking two different questions in their post. My personal top songs are not what I would use to try to introduce a new fan for numerous reasons. And furthermore, what format are these choices going to take? A setlist to perform live? A collection to release? Why only studio songs when they’ve given the fanclub so many excellent ones and released live versions of others that blew the studio version out of the water? The best I can do is to answer the question three ways: I’m going to give you my own personal top twenty-five, what I would actually play for someone who is interested in them but hasn’t heard much of their music, and what I chose out of the options available.

My own personal top twenty-five (arranged roughly chronologically because that’s how I think):

“Thinking of You,” Middle of Nowhere
“MMMBop,” Middle of Nowhere
“Man from Milwaukee,” Middle of Nowhere
“Madeline (live),” “I Will Come to You” single
“Runaway Run,” This Time Around
“Lost Without Each Other,” Underneath
“Deeper (live)”, The Best of Hanson Live and Electric (Japan only)
“So Lovely,” Hanson.net Version 2.2
“Follow Your Lead,” Take the Walk EP
“Out of My Head,” Strong Enough to Break Demo CD
“Devil’s Nachos,” Hanson.net 2009
“World’s On Fire,” Stand Up Stand Up EP
“Waiting for This (acoustic),” Stand Up Stand Up EP
“Me Myself and I,” Shout It Out
“Sunny Day,” Facing the Blank Page
“All this Love Crap,” Digital Pants Volume One
“Already Home,” Anthem
“Cut Right Through Me,” Anthem
“For Your Love,” Anthem: Live in New York
“Best of Times,” The Sound of Light
“Get So Low,” Icon: The Paintings of Anthem bonus download
“White Collar Crime,” Music Made for Humans (With Robots Trained by Monkeys)
“Grace Unknown,” Inside the Box
“My Mind is Exploding,” Digital Pants Volume 2: Super Digital Pants
“Stop Me In My Tracks,” Loud EP

And the twenty-five I would play for someone who doesn’t know the band well:

“A Minute Without You,” Middle of Nowhere
“Yearbook,” Middle of Nowhere
“Madeline (live),” “I Will Come to You” single
“River,” MMMBop/3 Car Garage
“This Time Around,” This Time Around
“Runaway Run,” This Time Around
“Wish That I Was There,” This Time Around
“Lonely Again,” This Time Around (Australia and Japan only)
“I Don’t Know,” “If Only” UK single
“Strong Enough to Break,” Underneath Acoustic
“Penny and Me,” Underneath
“I Almost Care,” Underneath (Japan only)
“Crazy Beautiful (Underneath Acoustic Live),” “Lost Without Each Other” CD single.
“Hand in Hand” + “In a Little While,” The Best of Hanson Live and Electric
“Deeper,” The Best of Hanson Live and Electric (Japan only)
“Great Divide,” The Walk
“Watch Over Me,” The Walk
“Got a Hold On Me (Acoustic),” The Walk (U.S. only)
“These Walls,” Shout It Out
“Already Home,” Anthem
“You Can’t Stop Us,” Anthem
“Change In My Life,” Anthem: Live in New York
“Get So Low,” Icon: The Paintings of Anthem bonus download
“Grace Unknown,” Inside the Box

Yes, I left out “MMMBop.” If it didn’t win someone over in the last nineteen years, it’s not going to now. If you just have to have it, throw the Live and Electric version in at number twenty-six. As much as I would have liked to enter that list as my answer verbatim, a lot of those songs weren’t options, so here is what I chose for Hnet.

“River,” MMMBop/3 Car Garage
“Thinking of You,” Middle of Nowhere
“Yearbook,” Middle of Nowhere
“A Minute Without You,” Middle of Nowhere
“You Never Know,” This Time Around
“This Time Around,” This Time Around
“Runaway Run,” This Time Around
“Wish That I Was There,” This Time Around
“Hand In Hand,” This Time Around
“Lonely Again,” This Time Around (Australia and Japan only)
“Strong Enough to Break,” Underneath
“Penny and Me,” Underneath
“Lost Without Each Other,” Underneath
“I Almost Care,” Underneath (Japan only)
“Great Divide,” The Walk
“Watch Over Me,” The Walk
“Got a Hold On Me,” The Walk (U.S. only)
“Waiting for This,” Shout It Out
“Carry You There,” Shout It Out
“These Walls,” Shout It Out
“Musical Ride,” Shout It Out
“You Can’t Stop Us,” Anthem
“Already Home,” Anthem
“For Your Love,” Anthem
“Cut Right Through Me,” Anthem

Did I screw this up? Oh, of course. Did you ever read High Fidelity? Do you remember when Rob got asked by that reporter to make a top five list and he made one, and then had to change it literally five times until she said he couldn’t change it again? This was a lot like that. I made my own favorites list and slept on it. I made my list I’d introduce someone with, and I slept on that, too. And then I tried shoehorning it into their options. Some of them were simple; given the option, I’d pick acoustic versions of “Strong Enough to Break” or “Got a Hold On Me,” but the album versions are fine. Conversely, even though I love the songs live, I decided the studio versions of “Deeper,” “Madeline,” and “Crazy Beautiful” don’t cut it and left them off. Later I’ll probably wish I’d left them in on principle that they can be good — better than some of the songs I went with in the end. But those songs I selected hold up for me whether they’re live or studio, and I’m not sick to death of hearing them the way I am certain other songs. Whether I could have chosen better or not, those will do.

Hanson Day 2016: The Good, the Bad, and the WTF

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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.

Nineteen Years of Crazy

#Priorities

Last night was the last stream of the making of Hanson’s EP Loud; whether by coincidence or design, it just happened to fall on Hanson Day, the nineteenth anniversary of Middle of Nowhere‘s release. I watched the stream with Twitter open because half the fun of the streams is the conversation, some silly, some serious, often fueled by some degree of caffeination or inebriation depending on what time it is where we are and tempered by how distracted we are by what we’re watching. This was the last stream, so presumably the video was taken from near the end of the recording process, once they’ve got the song mostly done and working out the last of the instruments.
Amongst some of my friends, there seems to be a consensus that their studio songs end up overproduced. It’s like a pretty person who prefers to wear heavy makeup; it’s fine if that’s what you actually want, but there’s really no good reason otherwise. (Hanson might be the kings of too much of a good thing.) Tonight, we saw the guys recording kazoos (color-coded by their favorite colors, of course). What on earth made them think a plastic whistle that sounds like a horde of angry bees is a sound they would like to include on an EP, I don’t know. Sometimes, I can follow the mental jump from A to B to Z; tonight, I facepalmed and got up for another cup of coffee. But I didn’t turn off the stream. Eventually, they finished with the kazoos and moved on to less irksome sounds.
After nineteen years, this is old hat. Sometimes they get crazy and I’m right there with them. Other times, I can only laugh (or groan), shake my head, and wait for them to finish. Eventually, they always come back around to something worth the wait.

(But seriously, Hanson, those kazoos are really awful. Please consider ditching them. — Everyone.)

MMMBop turns 20. . . soon.

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Sorry to rain on everybody’s parade, but someone somewhere (read: Wikipedia) made a mistake. “MMMBop” has not yet been released for twenty years. According to Hanson’s official calendars, the album’s release date was May 17, 1996. While Hanson have made mistakes with the dates on these calendars, this wasn’t one of them — in Hanson: The Official Book, it’s also mentioned that the MMMBop album was first made available during Mayfest that year.
If you want to get even more pedantic about the whole thing, though, “MMMBop” as we know it (the sped-up version that was all over the radio) wasn’t released as a single until March of 1997, almost a year later, and Middle of Nowhere dropped May 6, 1997. I won’t pretend MMMBop wasn’t an important album, but its anniversary is only really relevant to the band themselves and the fans who lived in or around Tulsa in 1996. I hopped the bandwagon in June of ’97 and felt like I needed to catch up, but I’m not even celebrating this one, only wondering why anyone else is.
Odds are you haven’t been butchering the chorus for twenty years (but it’s likely you have been butchering the chorus, I do have to give them that). The articles making the rounds at the moment are merely poorly-researched excuses to incite yet another panic of “OMGLOL UR SO OLD!!1” Who actually wants to feel this way? Not me! I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again: good music doesn’t get old. If it still sounds fresh, turn it up and enjoy.

WORKS CITED:
2014 Hanson Calendar. Tulsa: Hansonopoly Inc, 2013. Print.
Gollihare, Jarrod. Hanson: The Official Book. New York: Billboard Books, 1997. Print.

Hop Jam 2016 Lineup

This morning, Hanson announced the third annual Hop Jam lineup. The first couple of years, Hanson headlined the event, but to my disappointment, this year they aren’t playing a set. At all. 
Instead, we get four artists I haven’t heard yet plus whoever wins the opening band contest. Just between you and me, I was hoping for Hanson, Paul McDonald, and maybe Carrick or Butch Walker.  I expected different for a festival organized by a band who has introduced me to so many great artists either from recommendations or bringing them along on tour — I expected better continuity. The event may not be about them, but I don’t understand why they would organize a festival in which their own music, ostensibly their primary focus, doesn’t have a place at all, and then expect their fans to be excited to not see them play. Were they drunk when they made this decision?
See, here’s the problem: they tacked the Hop Jam on after our annual Hanson Day fanclub event. For those of you who don’t remember, Hanson Day is actually the sixth of May, but for reasons unbeknownst to me, the Hanson Day event slowly crept down to coincide with Mayfest and Blue Dome Fest, and then Hanson made a big deal about us staying for Hop Jam. Since they played the last two years, the implication was that they would be playing again this year.  Hotel rooms aren’t cheap (especially downtown when three events are happening at once), and I had to book and pay for it months ago to make sure I’ll be able to stay where I want.  I’m lucky enough to have Sundays and Mondays off, but plenty of people don’t, and time off at most jobs is hard to get approved. It was a dick move to wait until most fans have bought plane tickets and booked hotels and organized the extra day off and THEN announce the band we’re traveling to Tulsa to see isn’t actually playing the Hop Jam. They cannot possibly be too busy to take an hour out of their day to lug a guitar, tambourine, shakers, and cajon two blocks and play us a few songs. 
I’ll sit down when I have some time and check out the other artists, and if they pique my interest, I might wander over to catch their set — I’ll only be a couple of blocks away anyway.  But if not, Tulsa is a big city, and there’s never enough time to go everywhere. Busy can go both ways.

More to Love: A Knee-jerk Review in the H(eat) of the Moment

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Yesterday, Zac Hanson posted a new Super Digital Pants song. As usual, I whipped out my credit card right at my work desk, pounced on the song, and rushed my boss out the door ten minutes after closing time so I could go home and listen in peace. The title “More to Love” didn’t ring any bells, but a few Twitter comments about cake and body positivity piqued my curiosity. Around interruptions, I put on headphones and listened to the song. And while Zac can say what he wants in his blog post about unconditional love, my gut reaction is, There is no way he’s serious about this.
I don’t mean there is no way he’s serious about this as in it’s a Digital Pants song; of course it isn’t serious. I mean either the song is dripping with sarcasm or he is completely clueless. Possibly both.
The song starts out belaboring a point that most of us already know — your weight is your weight and that’s okay — and then builds up to Edward Cullen-level creepiness with the bit about feeding someone in their sleep. Many people are sensitive about their weight, me included these days, and the best way to handle sensitive issues is to mention them as little as possible, not write an entire song negating their concerns. Even intended positivity rings false when taken to this extent, assuming it wasn’t simply intended as sarcasm in the first place, and I’m still not convinced it wasn’t. Sound in front row the first night of BTTI wasn’t the best, but what was that about feeling fat?
Furthermore, does he really think it’s an issue of working out every day to balance out the buffet, or an issue of having another slice of cake? I could never eat cake again and not lose a pound. I’ll spare you the ugly details of my own weight problems, but it’s pretty obvious to me that body composition and food intake don’t necessarily have much to do with one another. Writing a song encouraging someone to eat more only trivializes the matter.
My boyfriend kept asking me why I was in a bad mood last night. When I tried to explain about the song, he hugged me in this extremely sweet way he has and said, “Hey, there’s nothing wrong with your weight.” He meant well, but I know there’s not; that wasn’t the point at all. And maybe — hell, probably — Zac genuinely meant this song in the same way. I bought it (literally), but I don’t believe it. I could have believed a single line of a song, or a single panel of a comic. But a whole song just smacks of patronization.

(Back to the Island posts coming later. I haven’t forgotten, I promise.)

Fourth of July at Red Rocks

Back when news first broke about the fourth of July show Hanson were playing with Blues Traveler, I jumped on the tickets. I don’t have a bucket list per se (perhaps I should fix that sometime), but Red Rocks would have been on it if I did; it’s a beautiful, unique venue. That it’s only eight hours away from me was just icing on the cake — I always have to travel to see concerts anyway.
Tickets or no tickets, I wasn’t happy with Hanson before I went to the show. I was unhappy that last weekend’s Livestream got taken down before I had a chance to watch it, and I think the newly-released song with Owl City is so bad that it’s like the emperor isn’t just naked, he did a striptease on his parade float and then joined a nudist colony. And the fact that the guys opened with one of their few songs I actively dislike (“I’ve Got Soul”) didn’t help matters much.
But then they played “Waiting for This” early in the set when I’ve been saying all along that it doesn’t work toward the end they way they were doing it during the Anthem tour. And then they played “Been There Before,” a laid back summer song if there ever was one, and “Penny and Me,” our traveling song, and “A Minute Without You,” which I’ve loved ever since I bought MON eighteen years ago (July 2nd, to the day). By “MMMBop,” I felt like I was back home. John Popper joined them for “In the City,” the last song, and it had never been better.
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Hanson’s set was only the beginning. If I’ve seen Guster before, I don’t remember it, but this was definitely my first time seeing Blues Traveler, and both bands put on great shows. Blues Traveler invited 3OH!3, Rome Ramirez (who also performed Sublime’s “What I Got”), JC Chasez, and of course Hanson up to play the songs they’d collaborated on for Blow Up the Moon.

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What?

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Yes, I’m taking your picture. What of it?

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Hanson and Blues Traveler are both extremely talented bands, and they play well together. During the encore, everyone came back out for a cover of “Joker,” and JC Chasez closed the show with “Bye Bye Bye.” For a band who has always tried not to let themselves be tarred with the same brush as the boybands, Hanson seemed to go with it rather well.

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MOE Part 3 — The Aftermath

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Hanson Day fan club festivities were technically over with the afterparty, but the Hop Jam happened Sunday. Last year all the food trucks ran out of everything, so before we went downtown, we went out to Smashburger — not on the Hanson Tulsa guide, but Tara told me about them years ago and they make my favorite burger of all time. We also drove over to Ida Red in Brookside for Cain’s t-shirts and Oklahoma coffee mugs and presents for friends and other odds and ends.
We left the car at the hotel and walked over to the festival. Hops were to the north; jams to the south. I prefer liquor to beer, so I only sampled the new MMMHops farmhouse ale (yup, it was still beer) before we left the tasting area, got bottled water, and found spots near the stage for the bands.

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As I said, public Hanson concerts tend to be a different show than fan club ones. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them — I loved it from the beginning of “Already Home” to the end of “Livin’ on Tulsa Time.” I loved hearing “Thinking of You” (which we don’t have live on CD and I can rarely be bothered to load a DVD to hear), I loved jumping through “In the City” and clapping with “Get the Girl Back,” I loved that Taylor didn’t blow the lyrics of “Roller Coaster Love” that night and then stood back and let the crowd sing all the verses of “Fired Up.” But I didn’t love only getting a single lead out of Isaac and Zac. You can’t have everything all the time.

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When the show was done, three days of walking around downtown finally caught up with me. It took a good couple of hours sitting on the curb and standing around talking with other friends we ran into and getting swept up in the moths-to-a-flame crowd that gathers every time any member of Hanson happened to walk by before we finally could be assed to leave.

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At the very end of the credits of Tulsa, Tokyo, and the Middle of Nowhere, Zac says, “Stop watching, it’s over!” It’s such a habit that I’m not sure we can stop. The next morning, after we dropped off Tara, I immediately headed for Quiktrip for a newspaper; as I pulled into the parking lot, I got a text from a friend showing me how Isaac made the front page. At Starbucks, I snapped a picture of the Hop Jam poster still on the bulletin board. (Shortly after, another girl came and took the poster.) During a stop on the drive home, I put together a playlist of songs from the weekend. (It did not include “Another One Bites the Dust.”) I’ve unpacked slowly as the week goes on. I got David to cut off my wristband two days after I got home. The things I bought for my friend are in a stack on my bookshelf, waiting to get boxed up and taken to the post office. I’m still waiting for Zac’s new song to go up on Hanson.net, the USPS to deliver the photos I ordered at the gallery, my feet to heal, and fall tour dates to get announced. The best way to deal with post concert depression? Plan another one.
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MOE Part 2 — Good Songs

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Saturday morning, we passed on the bowling tournament; I can’t bowl and I don’t think Bean and Tara cared about entering. We went to Joebot’s for Hanson lattes, bought t-shirts at Dwelling Spaces, and then went to the I ♥ Hanson pop-up store, where I spent too much money — shirts, posters, a pen set. While waiting with Bean for her things, I realized I hadn’t bought Hansonopoly, so I had to go back and get that, too. Everything else I wanted, they’d sold out of or I couldn’t justify it. We made another meal of cheese fries at Caz’s Chowhouse (unless it’s a scheduled fan club dinner, which we also passed on, there’s never enough time to eat between these events), then lugged all the things we’d bought to Cain’s for the State of the Band. The guys talked about what they wanted to do for their website and how they’ve got a few more collaborations in progress, but the big news was the tour they’re planning for this fall: twenty shows in ten major cities, two shows per city with different takes on the setlist. They also mentioned a cover songs project that may or may not be done in time for said tour. All that money I didn’t spend on paintings and sold out t-shirts instantly rolled over into the tour fund.

Some people lined up directly after State of the Band for the concert, but we went to the hotel to unload our things and snack before returning for the main event. I’m spoiled on these fan club concerts, where we get four leads each out of Isaac and Zac instead of only one, and they dig deep and play songs from old member EPs and Digital Pants and foreign bonus tracks. Some of my favorite songs are ones they didn’t widely release, and it’s only at a members-only show that I’ve gotten to hear “Best of Times,” or “White Collar Crime.” It’s a refreshing change from public shows that focus mostly on the current album and hit singles. Sometimes I feel like only fan club members get to see the best of them, their range and creativity. They played all the songs from this year’s member EP, lots of past EP songs, about four album songs (including my favorite Taylor solo of all time, “Lost Without You;” when someone shouted for him to play a good song, he delivered), and even ended with an a capella rendition of the “Sexy Robot” tangent they went off on during a Livestream last February. Even though they played a full set, it felt like no time went by at all.

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Outside, it was raining, the beginning of a massive thunderstorm complete with a tornado watch, but nobody wanted to leave knowing the afterparty was going to be happening any minute.

Hey, @taylorhansonmusic ? Don't run on Hanson time too long. #HansonDay2015

A photo posted by Misty (@_mistydawn) on

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We took shelter under a tree until another friend told us to come hang with them under the underpass, where they’d had the better sense to wait it out. We stayed until doors reopened, then ran through the pouring rain to get inside.

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Last year, Taylor DJed from the stage; this year he surprised us all by showing up at the sound board in back instead. I can’t dance and only knew about half the songs, but the fun was in hanging out. Even at the sound board, the party seemed plagued with technical difficulties — a pause in the music here, “Another One Bites the Dust” played three times there — and the party seemed to end rather abruptly. At least, that party did.

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(Read the final part here!)

MOE Part 1 — Lonely Drives and Hanson Time

I didn’t cut my Hanson Day wristband off until two days after I got home. Buzzed on a steady stream of Dr Pepper, I got almost no good sleep all weekend, and I was crashing hard. As I lay in bed, I finally got David to cut off the little plastic clasp that held on the plastic band that had been my ticket into the concert, the lecture, the State of the Band talk, the afterparty, photos with the band, and the I ♥ Hanson pop-up store. Even then, I wasn’t ready for the party to be over.

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Some people flew to Tulsa, but I drove — it’s four long hours through the flat, arid Texas panhandle and then four more through ever-lusher Oklahoma to Tulsa, which is refreshingly green and humid. It was a lonely drive, but I didn’t stay that way — I went straight to the airport to pick up Bean, we checked into our hotel downtown, then picked up Tara. Hanson Day is special not just for the events but also for the chance to see friends I don’t get enough time with, girls I met through the band who became some of my best friends.

Friday morning started too early. Knowing we wouldn’t have time to come back to the hotel, we got dressed for the pictures happening that afternoon before walking to Cain’s for check in. I made a mistake and wore wedge sandals, since for some reason I always end up in the back for group pictures, but I only made it about halfway there and had to take off my shoes. It wasn’t like it was the first time I’ve walked around downtown Tulsa barefoot. We checked in to get our wristbands and pick up movie tickets and copies of this year’s membership CD, and then went straight to the gallery. Last year, we missed it altogether when lectures ran overtime; this year I’d saved up hoping to buy one of Zac’s paintings. In line, we ran into some other friends and spent the wait talking with them. By the time we got into the gallery, of course the paintings were all sold, but the guys did put out a gallery keepsake book with prints of them all, and I ordered three photo prints from the shoot they did for Inside the Box because I couldn’t narrow it down further than that. They don’t always make things fair to everyone, but they seem to try like hell.

We went from the gallery straight back to Cain’s to join the line for photos with the guys. It took another hour to get through, and sure enough, I was in the back, but I wasn’t complaining.

Wear the blue dress, Bean said. You won't look so pale, she said. #HansonDay2015

A photo posted by Misty (@_mistydawn) on

I don’t think I want to know what the other dress would have looked like. But hey, at least I didn’t feel so short.

Lectures were due to start right then, but we walked over to Mexicali’s because we didn’t want to wait five more hours to eat. We kept an eye on our phones for texts from people who were still at Cain’s, and made it back before we missed anything. Thank god for Hanson time.
Lectures are relatively new; the guys only started them last year. Taylor talked about the meanings songs have to us and called up a few people who had submitted stories he thought were interesting and got them to share with us. Isaac talked about some songs from This Time Around, letting us hear alternate takes and certain parts soloed (including a rare Zac-on-low part of “Lonely Again” that he evidently didn’t want us to hear that way — sorry, Zac!). Zac recorded a song with us that he wrote based on votes to polls he’d put up on the website — even when looking back, he wasn’t totally sure what he’d meant when he asked a question, or he’d been looking a vote for “robot” over “human” and hadn’t gotten it. (Again, sorry!) Between all three, it was a fascinating look into their craft — from an idea to the nuts and bolts of getting a song recorded to what we make of it after its release.

Having cheese fries for dinner at The Brook, I kept thinking I heard Zac at another table. That’s the funny thing about Tulsa — there are countless other guys there who look like the guys, or speak like them, and out of the corner of my eye or overheard in a crowded room, I get that ping of recognition. Massive talent aside, it’s times like that, in context of their hometown, that I can see they really are just normal people.

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For Movie Night, we got a triple-feature this year: The Walk Acoustic Live, Tay’s Music Exchange, and Deconstructed Anthem. I’ve got all of them at home, but it’s different seeing them in a real theatre on a big screen with popcorn — somewhere between a concert and Mystery Science Theater 3000, if your friends are funny enough. We sang along, but it didn’t sound like many other people did. C’m’on, people. It’s a concert DVD we’ve all probably seen half a dozen times, not church.

(Read part two here!)