This is the hardest review I’ve ever written. I sat in front of a blank screen for the last four days, finally wrote a couple of pages that I hated, and sent them to a friend knowing that I would get sincere feedback. Her response? “I think it's hard to write what you know people want vs. what you want to write.” Dead on. I think the problem is I feel like I’m supposed to get out the glitter and paint this postcard fabulous picture of the BEST VACAY EVER!!1!! when really, it wasn’t that level of epic for me. Yeah, it was fun. Worth the money? Always. And I’ll go back until something physically stops me because I love it all even when I hate little pieces of it. But for reasons I can’t quite nail down, it just wasn’t the best of the three BTTI events for me. I keep reading all of these happy, excited comments about how it was the best trip for so many people, and I can’t help but wonder if there's something wrong with me that I don't agree. We saw all of the same songs, had variations of the same experiences. So what has made me so hard to please that someone else’s best day of their life can feel like a 7 on a scale of 1-10 for me?
I can’t blame the music. Ironically, I was pretty disappointed when I found out about the Christmas set that ultimately turned out to be one of my favorite shows to date out of the 80+ I’ve been to. Top 5 material at least. “In a Little While” blew me away that night and might have been my favorite performance of the trip. The whole feeling of standing
I definitely can’t blame all the lyric mistakes either because I live for stuff like that. It’s like watching a live gag reel and just feels more genuine and real than something that has been rehearsed into monotony. If you went to the first BTTI in Jamaica (or read the blog), then you’ll remember Isaac accidentally jumped back into the chorus of “Wish that I Was There” when they were supposed to be starting “Deeper.” I laughed so hard and thought it was the best thing ever—until now. Here’s the 2015 scenario: Isaac is doing his solo show. This group of people standing in chairs starts screaming a request in unison, and it’s one of those annoying moments where you hope he won’t play it on principle, because everyone has requests and most of us are polite enough to keep them to ourselves mid-song. But then I realize they’re requesting “Sometimes” from Three Car Garage, and I’m prepared to give them a pass if he plays it because I would LOVE to hear that song. Isaac hears and says that if he can wrap his mind around how to play it, maybe they would get to hear it after the next song.
He makes it through “Someone” and then launches into this story about how they used to play “Sometimes” every show in 1998, and it’s so obvious that it’s a buildup to playing it. Except when he starts playing, the chords don’t sound right. And when he starts singing the lyrics, they’re ones I have never heard before. I’m looking around watching people singing along and feeling terribly confused about why these people all know this non-Sometimes song, and why in the world Isaac hasn’t noticed that he’s singing the wrong song yet. I start getting excited because I know there’s going to be a brilliant “aha!” moment. He HAS to realize it at the chorus. I catch the word “Smile” and vaguely recall it as the title of a Hanson song, even if it’s one I’ve never heard. Not Isaac, though. He just plows right on, singing a fabulous, error-free rendition of not Sometimes. The moment of realization came a verse or so later, but you know it’s bad when I recognized the song before Isaac did and I had never even heard it before.
Later, he forgot the first verse of “Best of Times,” Taylor forgot a verse of “I’ve Been Down,” and Isaac physically choked and started coughing mid-song during the last show (he said "Sorry, I choked!" To which Zac responded "Yeah, you definitely choked"). There were a lot of gag reel moments (emphasis on "gag" for the latter) and some great on-the-spot song writing (“Sand in My Crevice” and the male version of “Madeline”) that kept me laughing at every show. I love getting that kind of glimpse at these events that would never happen on tour.
I know I'm stepping on a lot of toes here, but I have to say I was also disappointed by the cameras. I mean no disrespect to anyone who brought one or took photos or videos, but as an overall observation, I think the sheer volume and obvious presence of them killed it for me a little bit because there always seemed to be one in my way, and when there wasn't, there were still 87 flashes going off. If you weren’t in the front row, they were going to block your view, end of story. I was sad during Zac’s solo show when someone’s husband/boyfriend shot his arm into the air in the middle of the crowd and held it steady two feet above his head for an entire song. Youtube will have a great view, but I never saw Zac once during that song. Even though I don’t particularly enjoy taking a ton of photos or videos, I can respect the fact that those things might mean more to someone else, and that if you pay $2,000+ to go to the event, by all means, take photos if that’s what you value. Just don’t do it in a way that interferes with or takes away from someone else’s $2,000+ experience. If you can doublefist cameras without blocking my view or bumping me constantly, have at it. BUT THERE IS NO POLITE WAY TO HOLD A SELFIE STICK IN THE FRONT ROW AT A CONCERT. None. No excuse. Don’t. I feel like this person’s friends should have intervened, you know? Friends don’t let friends use selfie sticks at shows. I love you, friends, enough to tell you when your genius idea is actually terrible. Please do the same for me.
I've seen a lot of discussion and judgment about the girls who chose to "camp out" for the shows on this trip. The general consensus seems to be some version of why would you pay that much money just to sit in front of the stage all day and not explore more and do some sightseeing? I didn't wait long for any show, but I can play devil's advocate and totally identify with the girls that did: Let's be honest here. I didn't pay $2,000 to see Mexico. If I wanted to go on a relaxing vacation to Cancun, I would. I would go to a nicer resort, go during a warmer time of year, and pay a lot less money to do it. Maybe you paid $2,000 for a vacation with a little Hanson on the side, but I paid $2,000 to have a little vacation while I see Hanson. It all depends on what you value. Do what makes you happy and don't worry about anyone else. If you value being front row over seeing ancient ruins, I support you. If you value sleep over Hanson and went to bed early and missed three songs, go for it. It's not hurting me. And if what makes you happy is complaining about what makes other people happy, then I guess carry on and we'll all get exactly what we want at the end of the day.
The last thing I have to mention is the surprise excursion. When we got our itineraries just weeks before the trip, my eye immediately caught the phrase "depart resort" before the final show. My brain ran rampant with ideas, and combined with the final setlist being called the "Desert Island Mix," I suspected we were being taken away to an actual island for the last show. My hunch was right, and we found out the day before that we were being escorted by bus and boat to the lovely Isla Mujeres (Hanson missed a golden joke opportunity here. The English translation is "Island of Women.") They loaded all 400ish of us into 7 or so buses, and there was a full-blown mob trying to get on the first bus (full disclosure: yeah, I was in it). Then all of the buses were loaded onto two ferries, aka a "booze cruise." The mob fighting to be first on the bus and first on the boat felt like how I imagine it would have felt to be on the Titanic and knowing that there weren't enough life boats ("Not enough by half!"). Somewhere, someone is asking if the boats will be seated by class, and that's just a whole other tangent I'm not exploring in this post. Like I need further ammunition to tie Titanic to Hanson shows.
|This was the return dock. The one we were let out on|
was a little wider and full of unexpected turns.
All chaos aside, I love my favorite band for kidnapping me so they can perform an amazing show on a secluded island. The setting was gorgeous like a wedding reception. The barricade was a white picket fence, which I feel is full of some kind of ironic symbolism. Who needs a 2-story house and 2.5 kids when you can have front row at a Hanson show on an island? "White Collar Crimes" was every bit as fantastic the second time as it was back in May at its debut, and I loved all of the Walk Era throwbacks that reminded me of when I first fell into this crazy wonderful mess of traveling for Hanson.
So maybe the whole thing didn't make me squeal or cry or feel the need to text all of my friends the minute I landed back in the United States, but it made me smile. It made me laugh until I cried a few times, and it made me thankful that I'm able to even do things like this time and time again. I'm not walking away disappointed or let down that it wasn't the best week of my life; I'm walking away going man, how lucky am I if this ISN'T the best Hanson show experience I've had so far? I'm thankful for every weird minute.
And I didn't get that amazing perfect picture with a Hanson like I did last year, but I still came home with one pretty epic shot:
ETA: How could I forget to mention one of my favorite moments? "Two Tears" during Isaac's solo show was awesome. I loved being part of the crowd of baby Taylor voices. A+++