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.
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:
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.
[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."
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.
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.