December 15, 2015

Five Island-Themed Covers Perfect for BTTI

I'm about 90 miles down the speculation railroad if anyone needs to find me, btw. Please don't take this post too seriously or as any sort of fact. Minimum details + maximum excitement = mucho speculation. It's fan science.

The last two years of Hanson's Back to the Island events have included themed shows. There was Anthem night, Fan Club night, Setlist Voting night, and Christmas/Covers night, to name a few. We haven't been told any themes yet if there are any for 2016, which means it's time to speculate away. Will there be themes? Setlist voting? Will they just surprise us when we get there? (My personal vote goes to the element of surprise). One theory I've seen a few times already is the possibility of a Roots & Rock 'n' Roll themed night, which makes sense considering they just finished a very limited tour of the same concept. I could see this being an accurate assumption; it works from a rehearsal perspective and given the fact that there aren't any plans to take this tour beyond those 10 U.S. cities as far as we know. It does make sense, but with such a hefty price tag, I always want BTTI to be an experience that I couldn't get on tour. That being said, there is a way to refresh the Roots & Rock 'n' Roll theme to give it a new edge that would make me super happy, and it's something I've hoped they would do since the first event was announced back in 2012.

Five Island/Beach-themed Cover Songs
(That Would Make Me Forgive Hanson For Another Roots & Rock 'n' Roll Show)


1. "Island in the Sun" by Weezer


2. "Holiday from Real" by Jack's Mannequin (Andrew McMahon)



3. "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys



4. "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles



5. "Under the Sea" from the Little Mermaid



Hey, it happened once. It can happen again.

6. My Heart Will Go On
(No, I'm actually super kidding about that one.)

Jokes aside, I'm sure whatever they choose to do will be fun, and I can't wait to find out!



December 14, 2015

Anti-Bucket List 2015

Photo: Joshua Tree, California

What is an Anti-Bucket List?
My Anti-Bucket List 2013
My Anti-Bucket List 2014

Try making your own at www.canva.com.



December 6, 2015

Hanson Day vs. Back to the Island

In the last few years, Hanson has created two annual events for fan club members: Hanson Day and Back to the Island. These are arguably the holy grail of Hanson events. Whether you’re someone who is lucky enough to go to both, someone that has to choose one or the other, or someone that dreams of being able to make one happen one day, you have to stand somewhere on the Hanson Day vs. BTTI debate. Which one is better? If you can only attend one, which one do you pick? Which is the best fit for your situation and your preferences? Here’s a Venn Diagram, because, you know, ex-English teacher and all.





I’m not going to tell you that one is better than the other because I think it all comes down to personal preference, and both offer great experiences that you simply can’t get anywhere else or from any other band. We're pretty spoiled and lucky that way.

Where do you stand on the Hanson Day vs. BTTI debate? Did I miss any great selling points that make these events special to you?


November 30, 2015

Keep Calm and Carry-On: Packing Cubes

It's Cyber Monday, and I'm celebrating by scouring the internet for great luggage deals. This is going to sound like one giant ad for eBags, but I swear they're not paying me (...yet. Psst...eBags? We can take this relationship to the next level any time).

I've always been a fan of traveling with carry-on luggage and skipping the hassle (and fees) of checked baggage, but it definitely makes efficient packing a challenge. One of my favorite packing tools in recent years has been my discovery of packing cubes.

You can find them online in a variety of colors and brands, but I always stick with eBags because of their variety of size and color options, and they always seem to have a sale or coupon going on.

So what are packing cubes and why bother with them? If you travel a lot, you probably already know the rolling trick to help maximize space. I've done this for years and always found that it helps me keep things more compact. The problem is by night #1, I've dug through my neatly rolled clothes and destroyed half of the work, and I can never seem to remember where I put the one tiny little rolled shirt I'm looking for without having to open the rest of them. This is where packing cubes come in. Think of them as little dresser drawers inside your suitcase.

1. They help compress the rolls you've created and keep them from coming undone and moving around in your bag. You pack the cubes, not your bag, then just toss them all inside.

2. You can keep items organized by type or by when you plan to use them. You can choose to put t-shirts in one and socks and underwear in another, or you can pack days 1-3 in one cube and days 4-6 in another cube and never have to mess up what you're not ready to wear yet. This saves me time on trying to decide what to wear, too, because I'm not opening that Friday cube until Friday.

3. They have little handles, so they can be used as a quick and easy overnight bag. If you're like me and there's always that one night of the trip where you're crashing at someone's house and it doesn't make sense to lug your whole suitcase inside, you can just grab one of these and go.

4. It keeps dirty clothes separate from clean clothes. Early in the trip, my packing cubes serve as a divide between the dirty and the clean by the simple method of clean goes inside, dirty goes outside. As the trip progresses and I've worn half of my clothes, an entire cube becomes designated to dirty. This is super helpful because I can never remember to pack a bag for dirty clothes.

Bottom line, do they magically create extra space where there wasn't any? Of course not; nothing will. But they sure do help keep things tight and organized and where I can find them. Check them out on eBags.com and see what color and size fits you best!

Pro-tip: The Large size is almost the same size as the entire inner compartment of a carry-on suitcase, so I don't find it useful. The small and medium pictured below are my favorites. :-)

Packing before + after with the help of packing cubes.
 (Santa hat is mine; tequila bottle is not. Don't ask questions.)


If you're interested in trying them out for yourself, shoot me an email at holly@travelingfan.net or leave a comment with your email address and I will send you a coupon from eBags' friend referral program for 20% off of your order.

November 13, 2015

The Roots & Rock 'n' Roll Tour: Arizona State Fair

Everything about our trip to Phoenix was over-the-top ridiculous. The original plan was to leave straight after the San Francisco show and take turns driving and sleeping. With the extra day off in between shows, were were going to hit Yosemite National Park and Joshua Tree along the way before staying in this fabulous little hideaway called Hicksville Trailer Palace, then head to Phoenix the next morning before the show.

Here's what really happened. I got the second driving shift, a.k.a. the one where we all had to stop and sleep because everyone was too tired to drive. Let me preface this by explaining that I live on the east coast, and my knowledge of California geography is minimal at best. So we stopped, I was given thorough directions on how to use the GPS on my friend's phone, the destination was programmed in for me, and all I had to do when I woke up was literally press "go" and follow the directions. I did it all seamlessly without waking anyone.

About two hours later, the cute little snow-capped mountains in the distance started coming strangely closer than I expected. I had driven us halfway up a Sierra Nevada mountain before my friends woke up enough to question my navigation.

The conversation went something like this.

Friend: This doesn't seem right. Did we go through Sacramento?
Me: Yeah, I think I saw signs for Sacramento.
Friend: Sacramento is north of San Francisco.
Me: Oh.

Google maps were double checked, and we found ourselves at Lake Tahoe. Because why wouldn't we find ourselves at Lake Tahoe?

So we never made it to Yosemite or Joshua Tree National Park. We didn't exactly pack for the 27 degree weather we found ourselves in, and we had to stop twice to put air in the tires because of the low temperature and altitude. But hey, Lake Tahoe is gorgeous.












(To be fair, I followed the directions and my friend programmed the destination correctly. Google maps just gave us a completely different route than it had shown her when she checked it from a computer earlier in the week. It won't stop any of us from making fun of each other for the next decade. #RememberTheTime...)

A number of hours later we went from snowy mountains to a starry desert. The one place we DID make it to, albeit a little late, was our home for the night at Hicksville. I'd love to go back and get to see it with a few more daylight hours to spare. Maybe next time we'll even get to see a national park we meant to be at.



The show at the Phoenix fair was a fun but quick 10 songs, and I wouldn't trade any of it. We got to see Nelson open for Hanson and watched as two Nelson fans bolted for the empty front row center seats during Nelson's last song. They were excitedly waving a piece of paper that turned out to be a picture of them with Nelson back in 1990, 25 years ago. It's always fun to run into another band's brand of crazy and see how similar and different we all are.

I was irrationally excited for "Thinking 'Bout Something" as always, and we mostly butchered the dance as always. One day we'll actually practice and relearn the ending that we've forgotten. After the show we managed to walk out into a crowd of people that looked like they had a purpose, so we joined in and found ourselves at Hanson's bus for a final goodbye. It was the strangest crowd I have ever been in waiting for Hanson to come out. The excitement level was serious, and it felt like a mix of fans that hadn't seen Hanson live in years and maybe some that hadn't realized they were still alive until that morning. Everyone was in a calm and mostly organized line that security set up until Taylor rolled out, and then all bets were off. There was screaming and a literal stampede and tears, and I felt like we somehow wandered through a time machine back into 1997. The best part is there were so few people that the crowd wasn't deeper than 2-3 people at any part, so there was no great competition or risk of not getting your chance to meet them if they came out. I'm almost sad Hanson didn't get to see it happen to appreciate the chaos for themselves.

I was also not kidding when I said Taylor "rolled" out. He showed up to sign autographs and take pictures riding a hoverboard up the driveway incline like it was a normal thing to do, complete with security holding onto him at all times to keep him from breaking his neck. Like I said, strangest bus scene I've ever experienced. Now every time I see the picture my friend and I got with Taylor, I'll know that no matter how normal we all look in the shot, he's secretly standing on a hoverboard. *insert all the bad puns in the world about Taylor putting the "Roll" in the Roots & Rock 'n' Roll tour*

Afterwards, we spent a whole $10 each to ride one ride, but it was worth every penny.

I wish we could have kept up the travels and made it to Disney, but I guess I already got my share of theme parks this tour and there's always next time. I already can't wait for Jamaica in January where I'll have a side of adventure with my Hanson instead of the other way around.




Roots & Rock 'n' Roll Tour: San Francisco

San Francisco felt more like normal tour since we had to drive several hours before and after and it didn't have the ease of flying in that all of the other cities had for me. It made me realize that I actually do like the craze of driving on a time crunch and battling out who is awake enough to take the wheel and for how long. We showed up with no place to stay and used Hotwire to book a last minute 1.5 star hotel down a crazy steep street. We showered at a YMCA and I gave myself a mild black eye with our car door in the dark parking garage. All of it felt a little bit closer to right than the easier parts of the rest of the tour.

We took a very hilly walk through the sunny streets of San Francisco, and I have to say of all the walks I have ever done, this one had the most colorful array of debris along the sidewalks (I'll spare you the specifics). It was definitely a place to watch your step. Past a homeless community on a pedestrian pass, someone had written "LOVE" in mustard on the sidewalk. There was no time to stop and take a picture for future "Where's the Love" jokes, unfortunately, but I was impressed when we passed it a second time on the way back and it was still there, footprint free. All questionable sidewalk decor aside, it was a gorgeous day for a walk.

You can check out a few more pictures from the walk HERE.
I want to say great things about the shows because it was the end of the tour and we even wound up front row center for Night #1, but something just felt a little off. Maybe it was the crowd or the venue staff or the fact that Hanson was getting sick, or some combination of it all. There was a fight in front of Taylor's piano right before Hanson took the stage, and I think that killed it a little bit. We shouted for security to come and after a million years they did, and they shined flashlights and looked around and seemed confused. After the show was over, I saw the same person I watched throw a punch before the show walking away from the same area I thought security had removed her from, so I'm not sure what happened, but someone somewhere failed. I guess I'll just be thankful my black eye was self-inflicted and not a result of whatever that mess was.

I'll never not enjoy front row center, though, and they put all the energy in the world into their new cover of Ben Folds' "Kate." It's one of the few Ben Folds songs I'm not familiar with, but they nailed it and made it fun even though I didn't know it. For the final encore the last night, Hanson, Paul McDonald, and Carrick & band all came out and sang "The Weight" together. The whole tour they had been introducing the band's drummer, Brijesh, as single. For the last show prank, Hanson came out and handed out fliers with his picture and real phone number on them. It was funny after the fact once we found out what was on the fliers, but as someone that wasn't up front who only saw wads of paper (and a couple of Zac and Andrew crafted airplanes) going out into the crowd, it wasn't this big funny moment that was shared with the whole crowd the way some pranks have been in the past. It felt like we were watching someone else's inside joke that we didn't quite get.

Hanson was too sick to come out after the show, but the weird spectacle of people wandering around afterwards was totally worth the wait anyway. A street vendor set up shop next to us with some questionable looking hot dogs that nobody dared to buy. Carrick, Austin, Brijesh, and Paul came out and talked to the crowd for a while, and a random (homeless?) man at the bus stop came over to Carrick and started singing for him. He had this surprisingly great deep voice and began serenading everyone with "My Girl" which turned into the weirdest crowd sing-along ever featuring this random bus stop guy, Carrick, and a crowd of corralled girls behind a barricade all singing together in harmony. I think it might have been better than if Hanson came out, though I would have loved to see them join in for "My Girl."

I'm always a little hesitant and nervous to write anything less than an amazing review of a Hanson show, but I'd be more hesitant to write some cleaned up, half-truth version just for the sake of appearances. I'd rather give you my semi-jaded, realistic version of the truth than waste your time with fake rainbows, and the truth is if you expect to follow a band or be a fan of anything for longer than a minute, you have to anticipate the lows along with the highs. It's too exhausting to waste your time being upset the minute something isn't perfectly amazing, and you'll wind up constantly angry and hurt if you let every imperfection scare you away. "Amazing" simply doesn't exist without some basis of comparison, and I'll never be upset by those moments because a low-ranking Hanson show still ranks way above whatever else I could've been doing if I wasn't there. The secret to being happy and sticking around is caring exactly the right amount about the right things and being able to truthfully say "whatever" or "maybe next time" to the little disappointments. Because there will be a next time, and you'll be there remembering all of the best of times that came before.


November 12, 2015

Roots & Rock 'n' Roll Tour: Los Angeles

One of my favorite parts of this trip had zero to do with Hanson and everything to do with my inner child visiting Disneyland covered in green body paint. With the LA show a day after Halloween and so close to Disneyland, we couldn't NOT come in a day early to do Mickey's Halloween Party. After much deliberation about an appropriate group costume for 3 girls, we finally settled on Wizard of Oz characters. Just not Dorothy and her usual companions.



We had a lot of fun and enjoyed several little girls including a miniature Dorothy stopping us for photos. I'm not normally a fan of repeating Halloween costumes when there are so many options out there, but I would totally do this one again. Halloween MOE 2016, anyone?

Beyond having a favorite band, I'm normally pretty terrible at assigning the term "favorite" to anything else involving Hanson. I can never pick a favorite song, brother, city, or show because my opinions always change and there's always something amazing about each individual option. I can say with a decent amount of confidence though that the LA shows were my favorite of the four cities I did this tour. The crowd energy was great, I loved the setlists (Oh Darling and Underneath the first night were both great surprises), and the second show in particular just felt right, even if a tall girl with hair to rival Andrew's stood in front of us about five minutes before the show started.

I've been loving Isaac's rambled intro to Hand in Hand at every city. I thought it was particularly great in Atlanta when he told us it's kind of an inside joke in the band to see how long Isaac talks when they leave him alone on stage (hate to break it to you, Isaac, but it's not just the band that jokes about this). After that it was obvious he was intentionally rambling just to see how much time he could kill, and he did a superb job with on-the-spot made up teen angst love songs. He took this a step further in Los Angeles and somehow wound up tying in an unexpected solo version of Rain in the middle of this speech. Dear Isaac, please always sneak in extra songs to mess with your brothers.

Before and after the shows there was a random guy on the street selling cheap bootleg t-shirts I can only describe as hideously great and necessary. He told us he had had them since Hanson played LA in 1998, and based on the state of the shirts, I believe it.




October 28, 2015

Roots & Rock 'n' Roll Tour: New Orleans

New Orleans was my non-negotiable stop on this tour. It's been a complicated year for me, so when I bought all of my tickets I didn't have a clue which cities I would actually be able to make it to and which ones I might have to sell. New Orleans is the one city in the United States I've always wanted to visit but hadn't had the opportunity yet, so when Zac's 30th birthday fell on those dates, I knew I had to make at least this one work. It ended up being the one stop on the tour where most of my friends went, so we met up from various places and played the role of tourists for a change (can I coin the term TOURist?). We celebrated Zac's 30th by splurging on good food.

There was Crawfish Étouffée


Fried Alligator



Bread Pudding



Beignets with Chocolate Milk



Chocolate Covered Apples



And Pralines I ate so fast I didn't stop to think about pictures.

In addition to the great food, we saw the Garden District, the French Quarter, a cemetery, a Dr. Seuss art gallery, a whole lot of Mardi Gras beads in trees, and apparently Nicholas Cage's old house. Oh yeah, and Hanson.

The show started with a crowd-sized rendition of Happy Birthday to Zac (during which he sang "Happy Birthday to me" with big pointed thumb gestures at himself. The guy will never actually be 30 inside), followed by the first time I have ever heard "Teach Your Children." They brought out a new Leon Russell cover called "Delta Lady" and gave us an Isaac-heavy set the second day with back to back performances of "Deeper" and "Hand in Hand" as well as closing out with "Watch Over Me." The first night closed exactly the way you would expect with a cheesecake in Zac's face and a smile on everyone else's.

Click HERE to check out a few more pictures from the shows.




October 27, 2015

Roots & Rock 'n' Roll Tour: Atlanta


The great thing about traveling for this band and being a part of this fan base for an extended period of time is that there comes a point where going to a show "alone" stops existing. You can plan alone, you can float between friend groups, but the feeling of "I don't know anybody here" just ceases to be a thing. Still, Atlanta was my first time in seven years planning a trip on my own without gluing myself to a specific group of friends the entire time. I carpooled with one group of friends, shared a hotel with another, spent time in line with yet another group, and then braved the shows surrounded completely by strangers.

The whole experience brought me back to what it felt like to be the new kid that doesn't know everybody. It's a little unsettling and awkward, but it also holds a lot of potential for new friendships if you let it. While I would have loved to share these shows with the girls I have grown so used to traveling with, I have to say it reminded me of what I miss out on when I do that every other time. I like to think that I'm open to meeting new people and making new fan friends, but the truth is having that core group of best friends can also be a little bit of a crutch. It's not one I use on purpose, but I think when you get a little too comfortable in the space you've carved out for yourself, you wind up letting other opportunities to make new friends suffer for it. So yes, I  missed my usual partners in crime in Atlanta. But I also really enjoyed getting to connect with some newer friends I might not have had the opportunity to spend time with otherwise. High fives to you girls for making my time in Atlanta a fun one. :-)

As for the shows, I was ecstatic about the whole cover song concept from day one. I may or may not have told Zac in Cancun that the Christmas/Cover song set was one of my all-time favorite Hanson shows ever (to which my friend immediately pointed out "You do realize you just told the guy your favorite Hanson show was one where he didn't play any of his own music, right?" Oops. Not what I meant). It didn't disappoint. "God Only Knows" was phenomenal. Zac and Taylor's voices blend together so well it's like the same person singing a duet with themselves sometimes. "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" was an unexpected highlight too, and it has been stuck in my head ever since ("Goodbye to Ro-o-sie, Queen of Corona...").

I've heard "Chain of Fools" before, but never cared much about it. Let Zac sing it though, and it's time to do a double take. Isaac looked really into it too even though he wasn't singing lead. Zac nailed "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" as I knew he would, though I'll never be able to sing along to "touching you, touching me" with a straight face.

There were two big stand-outs to me over the course of these two shows.

1. A Song For You. (video courtesy of Rachel H. from the Dallas show)



I had never heard this Leon Russell song prior to the livestream of Hanson's Chicago show a few weeks ago. I was hooked the moment I heard it on Yahoo, and hearing it in person was even better. People can argue about the quality of Taylor's voice and who should sing lead on what song, but I feel like this song showcased every good thing about it. Tell me Taylor's voice is gone, and I'll point at this song and carry on my happy fan way.

2. How much I actually appreciate Hanson songs.

That probably sounds ridiculous, but what I mean is that hearing the cover songs I was so excited about made me realize how much I really do appreciate Hanson's original songs. Every time they threw in a Hanson tune on covers night, I got this huge involuntary grin and couldn't wait to sing along. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess.

I try not to give mine too much down-time to find out, though. Can't wait for round two of my Roots & Rock 'n' Roll Tour experience in Los Angeles and San Francisco next week!

September 24, 2015

Look At You vs. Give a Little

It hit me today that “Look At You” is the adolescent version of “Give a Little.”

You probably have to be a mega-super Hanson nerd of a very small niche to care what I’m about to say next, but if you happen to fall into the super fan category AND you loved English class, read on.

Both songs are narrated from the perspective of a(n assumedly) male protagonist in some sort of dance scenario with a girl. For the sake of this analysis, let’s say we’re talking about 14 year old Taylor approaching a girl vs 27 year old Taylor approaching a girl. The two songs are like snapshots taken in the same place of the same subject 13 years apart. Let’s look at the one from 1997 first.

“Look at You” is about a boy who hasn’t found his inner confidence or comfort zone just yet. We don’t know the exact setting. Middle school dance? Cool kids’ party? It doesn’t really matter. What we know is that he’s at some sort of dance and he’s being your stereotypical nervous fly on the wall at the beginning: “Standing in the shadows wondering what I'm doing here/Wishing something would happen, maybe I could disappear." Then in walks this girl with all the confidence in the world making it look so easy. (This is your basic Jake Ryan/Samantha Baker role reversal, Sixteen Candles fans). He knows that you don’t get the girl by staying in the corner, and you can hear him talking himself into action in the bridge: “Just kick off your shoes, get on the floor/This is what we came here for…Just get on the floor.” For years I took that more as a generic instruction to the person listening to the song, the all-knowing singer urging the audience to go dance and have a good time. I really think it’s the main character’s advice to himself, though, psyching himself up to do something he’s nervous about. It rhymes and flows a lot better than “Suck it up and get out there!” but that’s the basic plot so far.

Then comes the chorus which boils down to a whole lot of looking and not so much happening (Sorry, kid. You won't get any action verbs in your chorus for another decade).The next verse starts with “In the middle of the dance floor, lights shining in my face,” so at this point our protagonist has advanced from the shadows and joined the crowd on the dance floor. But before he can make any big decisions, the girl makes the move for him and encourages him with “why don't you come and give it a try/Get on the floor, just kick off your shoes/You ain't got a thing to lose.”

Presumably, boy gets on the floor. Boy kicks off shoes. Boy loses nothing except his nervousness, and ultimately, boy grows up to voice a much more confident dance scenario as a result.

Next is Zac’s crazed rambling at the end of the song. I always enjoyed his rant about a purple moose as much as the next 9-year-old girl, but even back then the shy guy at the beginning never meshed well with the shouting frenzy at the end to me. I appreciated it because it sounded fun, but it never really made any sense. This guy wants to disappear into the shadows at the mere thought of dancing, and then roughly three minutes later, he wants to be turned loose “like a one-eyed purple moose?” and is comfortable shouting “Let’s do it?” I’m not buying it. We’re only getting the perspective of one guy throughout the song, so it never crossed my mind to assign Zac’s part to some other character. Listening to it this time, it occurred to me: what if Zac’s letting loose at the end is a representation of the shy guy’s inner voice? He’s the voice of the dancing maniac locked deep down in a shy guy shell, awoken finally at the insistence of a confident girl with moves and hips. Maybe I’m reading too much into it or finally understanding something really obvious about 18 years too late, but it’s an interesting possibility and one that makes Zac’s part of the song finally make sense to me.

Now let’s look at “Give a Little.” You can tell within the first sentence that the guy has grown up a bit. Yeah, he’s still a little insecure and worried about being teased for his “flirty quips” or for choosing the wrong words to say to this girl, but the bigger victory is that he spoke to her at all. No more trying to disappear into the corner. You can still hear that same inner voice of encouragement trying to talk himself into action, though: “You gotta show her why she can't resist/Make her blush when you put your hand on her hips.” Again, I always took this as an instructional how-to to the listener, but I really think he’s talking himself through his own process, only this time it’s with such a confidence that he could be teaching someone his moves.

One of the subtle details I find the most interesting is the way the power has shifted from the girl in “Look At  You” to the guy in “Give a Little.” You can make your own judgments about what that means, but I choose to see it as a simple shift in self-confidence. The guy in the second song isn’t the shy guy from before. He has learned that you have to put yourself out there to get what you want, and he has a better idea of how to do it thirteen years later. In “Look at You,” the girl is the one that “walks in with that look in her eye,” but in “Give a Little,” he suggests “You gotta hold her, with that look in your eyes.” He’s the one with “that look” of confidence now, and he no longer looks at her and wonders what she’s going to do. Then there’s the mention of hips in both songs. In “Look at You,” he says “She breaks the silence with a move of her hips/You better hang on don't want to lose your grip.” She has all the power here, and he’s just trying to keep up. In “Give a Little,” her hips are a way for him to turn the tables and control the situation: “You gotta show her why she can't resist/Make her blush when you put your hand on her hips.”

My favorite line to support this interpretation is this: “She loves to keep you in suspense/ But you know she just wants to dance.”

He spends the whole first song not being too sure of anything; suspense is an understatement for how he feels about her. But this line in “Give a Little” reads like a before and after for someone who has been there and finally figured it all out. She wants to appear suspenseful and complex (“everybody wonders when they look at you,” “She's gonna keep on playing until you stop chasing”), but underneath it all, you (finally!) know she just wants you to ask her to dance. He goes from wondering to knowing, and it shows in the way he describes the two situations.

I think we're out of time for today, but if you're the type that likes homework: Think about the next incarnation of the dance song scenario and track the change in confidence from from "standing in the shadows, wondering what I'm doing here" all the way to "you’re in my top ten, I like the way you bend/You’re cooler than ice, you don’t have to pretend." Taylor Hanson: Wallflower to unabashed DJ in 18 years.

Class dismissed. :-)


August 12, 2015

A Traveling Fan's Manifesto


This post was inspired by another great manifesto that I wholeheartedly agree with over at thegoodgroupie.com. Check it out!

Let's also be impressed I made it this far without ruining the moment and referring to this as a "Fanifesto."


July 14, 2015

FOR SALE: PAIR OF NEW ORLEANS TICKETS (SOLD)

F̶o̶r̶ ̶S̶a̶l̶e̶ Sold: Two tickets to Hanson’s New Orleans shows Oct. 22nd and 23rd. Included in this once-in-a-lifetime package deal is a pair of tickets to the after party hosted by the talented DJ Taylor Hanson. Asking face value price of $209.48 for the entire package.

These tickets are top-of-the-line print at home and include the official Live Nation trademark emblem to validate their authenticity. They come printed on the highest quality parchment with the finest ink* and offer a tranquil gray background and bold capital fonts to commemorate this unforgettable event. You will also receive a half-page of ads and fine print at no additional cost**.

In addition to the satisfaction of simply owning tickets, you will be treated to the memorable experience of TWO NIGHTS of Hanson performances. Imagine double the respect and double the bragging rights that a normal show brings from all of your less fortunate peers. Enjoy a special mix of cover songs on night one as well as some of Hanson’s best original tunes on night two. These tickets guarantee you a space equal to or lesser than the size of your body in the general admission floor area and are a great opportunity to bring you and your closest friend even closer.

The after party is sure to be a treat and a moment in Hanson history that you won’t want to miss. Sure, you might have missed the first time Hanson ever performed your favorite song live, but with these tickets, you may very well be able to tell your grandchildren: “I was there the 23rd time DJ Taylor Hanson spun Another One Bites the Dust.” Don’t wait on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Reach out and buy yourself the gift of a lifetime today.

*Should you choose to equip your home printer with these materials.
**less the price of ink

Disclaimer: These tickets do not guarantee any interaction, requests, gratitude, or photo opportunity on the behalf of Hanson. They do not entitle you to any special recognition or wish fulfillment by the band. Any such interaction is entirely circumstantial and up to the band's discretion, generosity, and tight schedule. Such events are not owed to you due to the purchase of these tickets.




June 8, 2015

(Inside) Inside the Box

1. "Dance Like You Don't Care"

"Dance Like You Don't Care" is one of those songs you're not meant to study too closely. It has more of an electronic sound than I normally like, I laughed hard at some of the lyrics the first time I saw them on paper ("have it sauteed, grilled or filleted..."), and I have no idea what a "swing man" is. But put it all together and it just sounds like a good time. This one is tied for my favorite song on Inside the Box.  I mean how could I NOT like a song with a Space Jam pun?

(Bonus points because I knew he was saying kool-aid all along.)



2. "Give Me Your Best Shot"

This song is like the angry, trash-talking cousin of "You Can't Stop Us." The difference is it's directed at one person, and it's missing that extra punch in the drums. It works though, because it's not threatening to beat you up exactly. It says something more like "I don't need to pound anything heavy and intimidating because even your best shot is pretty weak." Best part: the line "Your face is turning red/But my knuckle's turning white."



3. "Grace Unknown"

I have to admit, based on the title alone, I didn't have high hopes for this song. But then Isaac's voice happened and that was the end of that short-lived, unfounded opinion. I really like everything about the sound of this song, from the instruments to the harmonies and all kinds of fun music-speak I don't know the terms for. Bottom line, I think I speak for everyone when I say:



4. "Don't Hide Your Tears"

I caught the end of the livestream for this song when it was still in the works, and I just knew it was going to be a skip song. My first impression is that it sounded cheesy and fluffy and not about anything real. And then all the stuff with my dad happened and I finally got the finished product in my hands, and the lyrics felt like they were written for me. "Let me be your escape/Every day I'll run away with you" and "Let me heal your tragedy/ Turn your troubled heartbeat red from blue." That was my Hanson Day experience this year put into words and wrapped up with little angelic Beach Boy-style harmonies on top. One of Hanson's strengths has always been the way their voices blend together, and this song showcases some of their best harmonies, in my opinion. I think if I had to pick, this one is my real favorite from Inside the Box. It's a happy sad that just makes me feel better when I listen to it.



5. "What Are We Fighting For"

The first line of "What Are We Fighting For" throws me off every time. My brain wants to think he's just repeating the same phrase a little bit differently, but then it catches that subtle difference between "What are we fighting?" and "What are we fighting for?" One is looking for a reason, and one is looking for that thing that brings people together in the first place that makes any fight worth fighting. I love that the title is the version of that question that looks for the deeper connection and not the fight itself. It's more hopeful that way.

Or maybe this is just a classic example of an English teacher over-analyzing and reading into something that isn't there.




My only disappointment with this year's kit is the lack of Styx song titles. Come on, Hanson. After "Best of Times" in 2013 and "Show Me the Way" in 2014, I had high hopes for a "Come Sail Away," or knowing Zac, a "Mr. Roboto."



May 29, 2015

Hanson Day 2015






I always do my best to provide a good mix of recap and personal anecdotes in my blog. With any trip, my goal is to create a written memory for myself as well as an image of what it was like to be there for those that couldn't make it. This year, I can't give you the full breakdown I would normally afford a Hanson Day post because it was a very different trip for me. This post is more personal than usual because this trip felt more personal than usual, and representing it as just a bulleted list of events feels false and inadequate. Instead of a traditional recap, here's a glimpse what Hanson Day 2015 was to me.

Lectures

If you had asked me months ago after the initial Hanson Day announcement what I was most excited about, I would have said Taylor’s Song Story lecture. I’m a word nerd forever, and I love any glimpse I can get into the meaning of songs. Maybe you read my Seven Things I’d Like to See at a Future Hanson Day Event post last year and remember me jokingly brushing off the idea of Taylor doing a lecture about song meanings. Sometimes being wrong is awesome.

I was ecstatic about the Song Story announcement and took forever to decide what story of my own would be worthy of sharing before finally sending in my 300 word submission. Fast forward to about a month before the trip, my family found out some really bad news about my dad’s health. Work stress piled on top, and I began to question if this was the first Hanson Day I would sit out. I ultimately decided that I needed the distraction and welcomed the chaotic buzz that has become part of the packaged deal that is Hanson Day. I didn't choose "With You In Your Dreams" or anything particularly emotional, and the story I decided to tell had nothing to do with sickness or my dad. It did, however, have the potential to turn into an emotional conversation, and about a week before the trip, I decided that I really wasn't up for having that conversation on stage. I emailed and withdrew my submission from whatever small chance it had of being chosen because I didn’t want to risk falling apart in front of a crowd.

I knew I made the right decision the minute Taylor called up a fan who had chosen "With You In Your Dreams" because it helped her get through losing her dad. She handled the conversation so well, and I sat amazed at her strength and ability to talk about it openly without breaking down. I am a pretty stoic person most of the time. I've stood dry-eyed through numerous performances of "With You in Your Dreams” and "Lay Me Down," and I’m fairly certain that my bff of 12 years has still never seen me cry to this day. But this year, as Taylor played an impromptu rendition of "With You In Your Dreams,” I broke a ~90 show tear-free streak. My friends quietly patted me on the back and produced a wad of napkins from God knows where to comfort me there in the 2nd row while Taylor sang straight into my little broken heart. That song in that moment meant so much to me, and I both loved and hated him for playing it so unexpectedly. One of the first things I told my friend after finding out the severity of my dad’s illness was I'm never going to be able to handle hearing "With You in Your Dreams" again, and I dreaded the next time I would have to sit through it. But because life is full of ironic symbolism sometimes, it was the very first song I heard Hanson perform live after finding out the news about my dad. It was a bittersweet moment that I won't ever forget.

State of the Band

The State of the Band talk is pretty much the business meeting of the event. We got tour news, nerdy website talk (pins, the new hnet logo that I can’t not read as “hat,” etc.), and the announcement of the MOEY winners.

A strange thing happened here that I certainly didn’t see coming and that I'm not going to bother overanalyzing, rationalizing, or apologizing for. I'll give it to you in math terms:

MOEY categories = 6
Number of categories I entered = 1
Number of categories I won = 2

Now I've never been good with math, but that probability never entered my mind when I submitted my entry. I mean how could it? Your reaction will probably fall somewhere on the scale of standing ovation to eye-roll, but it happened. I went home with two little monkeys for Concept Album and Hnet MVP. I'm amazed, flattered, and thoroughly floored. Thank you to everyone that voted for me and thought I was worthy of another couple of awkward moments on stage ❤.  At least you didn't have to watch me dance this time.

Show

[insert the usual adjectives here: "really fun," "awesome," "amazing," "excellent," etc.]

"Dance Like You Don't Care" was a definite highlight for me and a great way to open the show. "Lost Without You" as a solo was gorgeous, "On and On" will always be a favorite of mine, and "White Collar Crimes" was just plain necessary. I noticed they taped down the lyrics for the song "Don't Hide Your Tears" from the 2015 membership kit, but they never made a move to play it. I guess there's always next year, and I'll be ready when they do finally decide to gift us with those killer harmonies.

The afterparty took place during some crazy monsoon and tornado scare, and I was half-afraid that we would have to stay in Cain's until the warning was lifted. Thankfully, the rain had stopped by the time we walked out. What hadn't stopped was some random "Yeah" track that kept repeating over and over. I left a few minutes early due to an early morning and ended up missing the encore(s) of "Another One Bites the Dust."

Hop Jam

I can't speak in solstice terms, but for me personally, Hop Jam day is the longest day of the year. It starts early and ends late (or early depending on how you look at it), but everything in between is worth the hassle. I admire how hard everyone on staff works for this band and how much teamwork goes into creating a successful event. And to my fellow volunteers, I can't say it enough: YOU ROCK. (And lift, and stack, and sweat, and repeat.)

I'm not sure why, but I enjoyed Hanson's Hop Jam set far more this year than last year. Maybe I just needed it more, or maybe it was due to the great group of friends jumping around me, but I had an absolute blast. We put the "hop" in "Hop Jam" every chance we got, and we had plenty of room for a terrible group execution of the "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'" dance. I wouldn't have it any other way and look forward to recreating our tired mess of flailing next year. Everyone is welcome to join.


Final Thoughts

I wasn't kidding in my MOEYs post or in my brief mess of an acceptance speech about how important this community is to me. I've been an active fan club member for eight years now, and the Hop Jam show was my 90th Hanson event. I've loved every single show that came before and have always had the desire to travel and see Hanson, but this is the first time I felt like I actually needed it. I didn't need it in that joking "MUST. GO. TO. DISNEY." kind of way. I needed it because when my life was getting a little bit too hard and too much to handle, I had this amazing group of friends to support me along with some really talented musicians who had no idea how much I needed them, and yet they were still there for me, too.

In retrospect, I guess I don't really have a "song story" of one song that speaks to me that I can call "my song." Instead, I have a whole band and a community and a place in a crowd that gets me, whether that's front row center or in a parking lot a block from the stage. This is my band and my fan community. This is my happy place and my escape. This is my vacation and my home and foreign and familiar all at once, and I am so grateful to have found a place in it all.




April 19, 2015

The 2015 MOEY Awards

Anyone that is part of a fan base knows that sometimes the love in that community wears thin. Sure, we have our happy bonding moments (i.e. when you hear a Hanson ringtone several aisles away in Target, and it’s necessary to “walk” over and find out the source so you can meet your new BFF). But for every one of those moments, there’s another where it’s more of a “You’re my sister so I have to love you, but I kind of want to throw things at you right now” type of love. If you stick around long enough, you’ll see a lot of ups and downs in the fan community. You stay because your love for the band that brought you together is stronger than any petty argument.

Let me apologize in advance, because the sap content going forward in this post is high. We're talking maple syrup for days.

THE MOEYs

What are the MOEYs?
Where can I vote?

I’m writing this to say how blown away I was by all of the support I saw during the entry period, and I'm seriously proud of our fan base as a whole. Each entry required a specific number of views or likes in order to qualify as a submission. And instead of an outbreak of competition or favoritism, everyone supported each other. Videos without enough views were actively pushed by friends and often complete strangers. People “liked” and shared content from others that would inevitably become their own competition. I would love it if there was a surprise category for “best supporting role” to award someone who really went above and beyond to promote others, even if they made no entries themselves.

For several weeks now, Hanson fans have been working hard to submit some truly impressive and entertaining material. I know exactly where my comfort zone is, so I stuck with a written entry. To be honest, the video categories terrified me. I have tons of respect for every person that had the guts to enter for the lip syncing categories, and there were so many. There were great recreation videos, a construction paper stop-motion video, and some classic hairbrush-in-your-bedroom-mirror style lip syncing moments just to name a few. Picking a favorite would be impossible, and I’m seriously glad I wasn’t faced with the task of narrowing down the submissions. I'm in great company in my prospective categories and liked several of the concept albums during the entry stages myself. Everyone that entered should feel accomplished, and nobody should be made to feel bad about being chosen or not chosen as a finalist.

I’m hesitant to share this post because I know exactly how sappy it is, and I’ve talked myself out of it and deleted three different versions already. I really don’t want it to come off as a “vote for me” tactic, though I know tackling the MOEY topic at all is probably going to come off that way at least a little. I’ll end by saying it was fun to participate as an entrant and a spectator, and I think everyone that made the effort and had the courage to enter deserves a round of applause. It’s amazing the level of street teaming and camaraderie that can be inspired by a little plastic monkey, a little determination, and a big supportive community of fans.

Best Fan Community Hanskeys for all. :-)


March 3, 2015

#AwkwardFanConfession(s)

In my last post, I confessed to a pretty embarrassing encounter with Hanson, and I thought it would be fun to collect and share few stories from other fans. Here's what you guys had to say about your awkward moments:





Thanks for all of the fun submissions, and best of luck with your next awkward encounter(s)! Just remember that for every accidental hug, there's someone else out there that has done the same.


February 8, 2015

That Awkward Moment When...

There’s one totally relatable topic that I’ve somehow never addressed here. I’m talking about that moment when you're interacting with your favorite band and some combination of your inner fangirl and/or natural stupidity decides to make an appearance. That foot-in-mouth or maybe even more literal face-on-ground moment that had you completely mortified while they handled it with grace because they’ve always seen worse. It’s usually followed by the inner struggle of both wanting to take it to your grave and wanting to tell all of your friends in the spirit of a good laugh and a reminder that we’re not alone in our moments of stupidity. I'm pretty sure best friends are just kindred idiot spirits secure enough to laugh at each other together.

If you've been around other fans for any extended amount of time, then you know there's something weirdly magical about getting in a car or sitting on a sidewalk with someone for hours that makes you want to spill all of those stories and collect them like trading cards. We've all got a few Jokers in the deck.

So here’s one of mine, a confession I've never made to the internet:

One time I accidentally hugged Taylor Hanson. I mean a full-on “oops, my arms are around you and you weren’t expecting it” scenario.

I can’t even use the excuse that I was young and stupid or that it was one of my first times meeting the band and I didn’t know how to react. Nope, it was last year. I was an adult. I had met the band plenty of times before without accidentally hugging anyone.

It happened in Jamaica at BTTI 2014 during the individual photos with the band. When my turn came, I walked up and Taylor held out his arms to me. It surprised me because I had watched plenty of people in line ahead of me, and none of them had gotten hugs. It didn’t make sense that he would try to hug me and no one else, but there he was with open arms, so I went with it and started to reciprocate. My arms are halfway around the guy and what he says next puts on all the brakes. ALL the brakes. In a painfully reluctant voice, he goes,

“Oh…so...I guess we’re gonna hug?”

(Don't read playful "haha, we're joking" inflections into that sentence. There weren't any.)

What do you even say to that? We're so used to the perfectly polished, appreciative “That's awesome! Nice to see you!” Taylor Hanson that is normally present at M&Gs, and here was brutally honest and completely caught off guard Taylor Hanson instead. I’m not going to take it personally because I think he was just as confused as I was, but helloooo, awkward. Too late to pull out some obvious "Oh, you thought I was hugging you? I was just stretching my arms in your general direction" save.

So he hugs me back and we survive the most awkward, mutually unwanted hug. My bad, I guess maybe he was just putting his arms out to put one around me in the picture.  Lesson learned. We take the picture and I’m so embarrassed that for once I can't wait to get away from Hanson, but I also can’t walk away without apologizing. I’m not sure what kind of word vomit came out, but I know I told him I was sorry for the awkward hug and that I totally misread the situation. The whole thing must have been full of secondhand embarrassment for them too, because Zac’s response was a very sweet “That’s okay, we can hug” and a big (intentional, I swear!) pity hug. It was a nice gesture that really did make me feel better, but I still walked away mortified and swearing to myself to never physically interact without some sort of verbal confirmation first.

The irony wasn't lost on me as I stood in line for my picture this year in Mexico and watched as all three Hansons hugged every single person in line.  I thought about going up and saying “Oh, so…I guess we’re gonna hug?” when it was my turn. Thankfully, I’m fully aware that the only thing more awkward than a mortifying moment with your favorite band is trying to bring it back up a year later and expecting them to know what in the world you’re talking about. I let the perfect year-late comeback go unsaid and got through a relatively normal M&G photo instead.

Fast forward to the final show later that night on Isla Mujeres. Taylor came down from the stage during their cover of “Back to the Island” and started high fiving the front row. I responded the way I always do, by holding onto the barricade while everyone behind me surged forward with outstretched hands, perfectly content to just hold my own space. So while Taylor is high fiving and coming my way, I’m watching his hand as it goes into the crowd. Keep your eye on the ball so you don’t get smacked in the face, right? I watch as he high fives the people to my left, a series of *palm* *palm* *palm* into the crowd, but then for me, a baffling fist. I’m thinking okay, he sees that I’m not responding to the high five invitation, so he’s trying for a fist bump instead? I fist bump him, then look up at the confused look on his face and immediately realize that whatever he was going for, a fist bump was NOT it. My friend turns and says "Holly, he was saying you look squeezed." He had only been making fists to mimic the way I was holding onto the barricade. By the time I realize this, he has already moved on and more people are fist bumping him. I just stand there laughing at myself because in the world of accidental salutations, at least I've downgraded from hugs to fist bumps. Someone should just tie my hands already.

I had no idea the whole thing was captured on video until it showed up on Hanson.net a few weeks later. It looks quick and normal enough from the outside. Cute, even. Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself and let everyone else in on it too. And then you stop and thank God that nobody has been around to record all of life's accidental hugs.

















Now it's your turn. My next post is going to be a compilation of awkward/embarrassing fan stories, and I want to hear yours!

This is my first time accepting any kind of outside content that I didn't write myself. I'm pretty excited to give it a shot, but it's going to be a learning process to see what works best and what kind of limits/guidelines I should use in the future. For now, let's say all entries are welcome but it's ultimately up to my discretion to decide what content is represented here.

Submission Guidelines
Submit your story of 300 words or less via email to holly@travelingfan.net. If you have pictures/video documenting the moment, you're welcome to submit those as well. Please include how you would like to be credited (full name, name + twitter handle, name + website url, etc.). I'll take submissions until the end of Sunday, February 22nd. Think Seventeen magazine's Traumarama, traveling fan style. Please keep it PG, and all entries come with free spell-check service. :-)

Don't have a full story, but still want to share an awkward moment? Tweet yours with the hashtag #AwkwardFanConfession and I'll include it in the post. I can't wait to hear your stories!

January 31, 2015

Travel Tips: Don't Fly American Airlines

...unless you enjoy being lied to and having to pay out of pocket for a hotel room that you were told would be covered.

I have submitted three separate complaints to American Airlines' customer service department in the last two weeks since my trip. It's not a particularly exciting or eloquent read, but it's one I urge you to take into consideration next time you think about buying a ticket from American. Please excuse the fact that their form allows only 1,500 characters including spaces, so my normal wordiness (that expands to exactly the amount of words I need to say what I mean) had to be cut down quite a bit. It's followable, though not my usual detailed account. Short story: I got stuck in Miami overnight on my way home from Cancun. I'll let the following correspondence speak for itself:














A week later, I received a response.

Plot hole #1: I flew from the mild climate of Miami to the mild climate of Charleston, SC. There was no rain, snow, ice, or other freak weather incident. I sat in the terminal and listened to multiple earlier flights out of my gate be delayed due to what seemed to be mechanical issues. I'm positive that the flight closest to mine needed a tire repair.

Plot hole #2: I made zero complaint whatsoever about not making it to my destination on time, nor the inconvenience of it all. At this point I just wanted my money back, and if not my actual money, some effort towards compensation.

Unsatisfied, I tried again.










 (I realize my "1.5 hours" from my first complaint became "2 hours" in the second. Blame lack of sleep when I wrote the first one, and okay, the fish in the story always gets a little bigger. It was an unintentional change and I'm not sure which is accurate. That's okay because neither is acceptable.)

New response from a new representative.



I'm so very glad my $130 could go towards making someone else's canceled flight experience more pleasant in the future. So glad. I only hope the feedback in my blog post here can be just as useful to future customers.



My third response from a third representative skilled in the art of avoidance.



See "plot hole #2" from above again. See "my complaint is not against policy, but with AA's inability to communicate it with me." See direct question #'s 1, 2, and 3, and direct answers #0, 00, and 000. Head, see desk.

From this whole correspondence, I've received zero answers, infinite frustration, and 4,000 AAdvantage miles, which are worth exactly 32% of a one-way domestic flight at the cheapest mileage rate. It looks like the most valuable thing I've gained from this experience is a $130 lesson, and perhaps a new slogan: