February 15, 2016

Five Setlist Themes for BTTI 2017

We know that Back to the Island 2017 attendees will be given the opportunity to vote on setlist themes, but so far, we have no idea what the theme options are.  Once again, minimal details plus maximum excitement means it's time for a healthy dose of speculation. Here are a few I'd like to see.

1. I'll Borrow Your Lead
A lead-swap set. Ever wondered what it would sound like for Zac to sing lead on Save Me, or Isaac to sing lead on Broken Angel? Now you have.

2. Fan club/B-sides/Rare songs set.
Self-explanatory. Doesn't everybody want this?

3. An Island-inspired covers set. 
I've already expressed my feelings on this one. I think it made more sense to do this in 2016 combined with their other R'n'R tour covers, but maybe there's still a way to combine it with another theme or mix in Hanson songs to create a full setlist.

4. A "Voice in the Chorus" set.
Songs with crowd participation parts.

5. Never Played Live/Unreleased

Not just "rare" songs, but songs that have never been played live anywhere. It's not gonna happen, but a girl can dream.

And an honorable mention for a few things that I think would draw very mixed reactions: A pre-1997 set. A Digital Pants set. And let's file a Fool's Banquet set under the "never gonna happen" heading, too. I'd also love the acoustic set that we were shorted at this BTTI to make a reappearance in the form of a chaotic and overcrowded campfire sing-a-long after a show.

Truthfully, I can't think of many themes that make sense as a full set, and I'm super curious what Hanson will come up with as our real options. I wonder if they're as stuck on this as I was, or if they're going about it in a completely different way. Here are a few failed ideas that came to mind when I was brainstorming for this post:

1. Songs with the most frequently forgotten lyrics.
Featuring Penny & Me, Best of Times, and Give Me Your Best Shot, for starters. We'll bring the cue cards.

2. A "No Cameras Allowed" set.
Please?? Also known as the #unpopularopinion set.

3. Tragic Symphony set
aka all the tearjerkers, Just no.

4. Love Song(s)
Don't hate me here. I feel like there is a chance some variation of this could be a real option. But as a (happily) forever single person, I just don't think I want a whole set of this.

5. Songs that are shorter than Isaac's introductions to them.

I say this with love...and amusement.

I'd love to hear some ideas from other fans, and we already have a conversation going about it over in the hanson.net forums. Feel free to join in! So far, my favorite suggestion came from Kelly, who pitched the idea of a "BTTI mixtape contest" where fans submit their own ideal setlist and have Hanson choose one to play. What potential theme excites you the most?

February 4, 2016

Happy Camper

I’ve been really fascinated lately by the concept of cruises and adult sleepaway camps, though I’ve never been to either. Let me explain.

We’ve been joking since year one that Hanson’s Back to the Island event is basically Hanson Camp for adults. You make friends with strangers, do crafts, and go swimming and kayaking. You stay up all night talking and share a late-night snack around a bonfire. In the end, you hug everyone goodbye, tell them to keep in touch, and hope to see them next year. And with the announcement of a fifth installment for 2017, it feels like now more than ever it is becoming every bit as much of a reunion between friends as it was a nuanced event with Hanson in the beginning. Is it possible that one day soon, the term “camp” in Hanson context will stop drawing to mind sleeping bags and line drama and shift to thoughts of friendship bracelets, postcards, and bittersweet goodbyes? I don’t think we’re there yet, but it’s kind of a nice thought.

I recently saw a link to an adult summer camp called Soul Camp and was so fascinated to find out that adult sleepaway camps exist. I had no idea! The more I read about it, the more I thought “This is basically Back to the Island, but without Hanson.” These people return year after year solely for the fellowship and the fun with no common band to rally around, and it feels like solid evidence that maybe Back to the Island—or following a band in general—is about something bigger than a band. That maybe choosing to spend your hard-earned money to repeat an experience you’ve had multiple times doesn’t necessarily land you in the crazy fangirl groupie category after all, but in some bigger human connection category. People can say what they want (and they will), but choosing to pay a lot for the same experience over and over doesn’t have to be symptomatic of a crazy obsessed fangirl; it’s symptomatic of being a person that enjoys adventure and meaningful experiences and friends. It’s symptomatic of finding something worthwhile and being wise enough not to let it go, despite what anyone else thinks you should do.

I was already a little more aware of the concept of cruises with repeat attendees than adult camps. The Rock Boat would be my prime example, but even regular cruises without a music connection draw repeaters that have built life-long friendships aboard a ship of strangers. I came across an article on Buzzfeed called “I Tried to Become the Most Popular Person on a Cruise,” and while I think a more accurate title might be “I Tried to Become the Most Popular Person on a Cruise So I Could Write a Buzzfeed Article About It,” it struck me yet again that there is this entire subculture of people that return year after year to a specific event, and a large part of the reason is the opportunity to connect with other people. Sure, it’s a multi-faceted experience and a bit dismissive to say the only reason people return to these events is for the friendships, but I think it’s safe to say that there’s more to these experiences than the beautiful beaches, ships, tents, and convention halls that they’re held in.

I’m not sure what my end goal is with this post. I’ve been aware for years that Hanson shows and long-distance friendships go hand-in-hand, and I know I’m not the only one. I’m not trying to argue that any given audience member at a Hanson show is there more for the girl next to her than for Isaac (though is that really such a bad thing?), but I love that you can look at entire groups of people with no connection to Hanson or any band for that matter that exhibit the same behaviors as Hanson fans. We’re definitely part of a subculture of something, and I’m not so sure it always fits neatly in the “music fan” category. The best part is I think it has always been this way; nothing has changed except maybe my perspective. Maybe the thing I've described is adult fangirlism, or simply the result of growing up. I don't know exactly what we are, but the one label I'll claim is "happy."