May 28, 2018

Hanson Day 2018

I think my favorite part about Hanson Day 2018 was choosing not to stand in avoidable lines. It was uncomfortably hot most of the time, and after I got sick from waiting all day in the heat in St. Pete last September, I know better than to hang out on hot sidewalks all day now. Some lines like registration and the store are unavoidable if you plan to do them on the first day, but there is so much room to avoid lines if you want to, and I swear my quality of life over the weekend improved because of it. I walked into the gallery with no wait because I didn't bother trying to go until Saturday. I showed up to both concerts at doors and didn't have to bring an umbrella for shade or worry that someone might cut me in line because there were already 800 people ahead of me. Not caring makes vacation feel a little bit more like vacation, and it makes me super excited for the upcoming seated tour where I will also not have to wait in lines. I can't not wait?

The Store
Hanson tried a new thing this year that fans have suggested in in the past and put up a page on their website listing all of the new store items and prices. It was really helpful to walk into the store and mostly know what I wanted without having to wait my turn to get a good look at everything, and the line seemed faster all weekend because of it. I was also spared the awkward moment of blurting out "What do you mean $80 for an umbrella?!" at an employee in shock because I was able to get that moment of disappointment out of my system on the sidewalk before I ever set foot inside. I'd say it went pretty well. I only bought one shirt, a pop-socket, and a pair of sunglasses (that are too big for my head), so I did okay in the spending department, too. If it's anywhere near as hot next time though, I fully expect to see affordable "Hanson fans" for sale.

I'm not normally one to pay a bit of attention to Hanson's family, but somehow their brother Mac wound up co-hosting karaoke with Isaac this year, and he did a killer job keeping the crowd pumped. There was a really fun mix of Hanson and non-Hanson songs that people chose, and both Isaac and Mac took turns getting up and singing with fans and with each other. The first fan to sing was a guy that picked "Bohemian Rhapsody" that quickly turned into a giant happy crowd sing-a-long, and it was all uphill from there. There was a great "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" duo, some Wilson Philips, someone that sounded just like Alanis Morissette to me, and a strange but great tribute to Tenacious D near the end that Mac seemed thrilled to join in on. Congrats to everyone that got up there and sang! You guys were awesome and made it fun for everyone.

The storytellers "lecture" was easily my favorite event last year. I'm not sure this one lived up to the bar set by 2017 (it was about 7 songs shorter and there was no disco ball surprise this year), but I still enjoyed it. They chose a lot of throwback songs including a cover of "Money" that I'd only heard once on actual Hanson Day ten years ago in my hometown. "Wish That I Was There" was the unexpected standout for me. I don't care much for it on the CD, but the harmonies are just so good in a live acoustic setting.

I joked later that they're a bunch of storytellers for calling this event "storytellers," but I'm happy for any excuse to go to an extra show with or without the added narrative. We did learn that "Madeline" was named after a real girl that was the daughter of one of their producers(?), and also that someone may have stolen Zac's basketball...though I couldn't tell you what song that particular "story" went with.

Game Night
I'm on the fence about game night. I didn't participate in Hansonopoly last year, but this year seemed better because there were no elimination rounds and everyone got to play for the entire event. I'll give them points for that. But when we showed up the sound system was a megaphone...and then a microphone that was as useless as the megaphone...and then just Zac's shouting, which sadly worked better than all of the above. I think they did eventually get a microphone working but I can't remember. In the end it cost Zac his voice for the rest of the weekend, which is a shame since this was before the concert happened. I'm happy for his sake that he didn't also have to make it through a Hop Jam performance.

It was a little bit like tie dye 2.0 with Zac not making it to every table and people getting up to go to him for pictures instead. We played a few different games and the "Freak Out" game that came with our ticket purchase is basically a Hanson version of Yahtzee, or so I'm told since I've never played Yahtzee. It wasn't my favorite because I could never remember what the combination of numbers meant well enough to figure out how to tally my own score.

Our favorite was the silly poker-type game where we had to place cards on our heads and bet who was wearing the highest card without looking at your own. Sometimes simple is better.

Listening Party
I haven't had time to listen to "Turn Off The Machine" and analyze anything independently from the listening party, but I liked it. Zac recorded a voiceover bit for the beginning and explained that it's a musical story of a guy building a robot, teaching it how to do things, and watching it ultimately come to life and spiral out of control, leaving him with the decision of potentially having to destroy this "monster" that he created. Think Dr. Frankenstein--the original Mary Shelley story and not all of the Halloween green-skinned bolt-in-the-neck adaptations.

It reminded me of watching Fantasia as a kid and felt like it belonged with some kind of animation to illustrate all of the different parts. I enjoyed trying to pinpoint where the mood changed and imagining what might be happening during different sounds. I wrote exactly one note during the actual listening session of my initial reaction and tweeted it after we got out and I had a chance to google the video I wanted to reference:

I have no idea if Zac has ever seen that video or if it's pure coincidence, but I stand firmly behind the Swedish Chef comparison for at least a portion of the song.

I have no artistic skills whatsoever and I don't like wine, so I've never had any desire to do the whole wine and paint night thing despite seeing pictures of friends and their various landscapes, beach scenes, and half-empty glasses on Facebook. A Hanson Day version seemed like the perfect time to go a little bit outside of my comfort zone though and try something new with friends. I don't think I'm going to be commissioning any pieces any time soon, but I had a lot of fun and my pansy didn't turn out nearly as bad as I expected.

I saw a few complaints online about Zac not showing up, but it was clear to me when the event was announced that Zac being there wasn't part of the deal. However, the photographer did show up and film part of my painting class...right as we had finished painting one step and were waiting patiently to learn what to do next. Instead of showing us the next step, they started playing "Lost Without Each Other" and filmed us awkwardly singing and not painting for the entire duration of the song because none of us knew what we were doing. I'm sorry in advance if you ever have to see footage of me singing and awkwardly holding a paintbrush.

The Concert
I'll go more into the new EP with a separate EP review eventually (maybe), but I will say that "Working" is great live. It has this really fun 50's rock 'n' roll vibe and I'm absolutely in love with the piano in it. If you don't love the recording on the EP, withhold your judgment until you see it in person. "Young and Dumb" is easily the standout track on this EP, though I was a little nervous about the techno sound at the beginning of the recording until I heard it at the show. I have no idea how Zac sang his two new leads, particularly Goldminer, with his strained voice, but he did a decent job and gave it all he had left.

The only thing I'd change about the show was the downer solos in the middle. "A Life Without You" and "Never Let Go" might be considered rare, but I swear I've heard that combination entirely too many times at the last few Hanson Days and BTTIs, and I'm a little bit tired of needing tissues. Between that and WYIYD at Storytellers again, I could really do with a year of no sad songs. I'll give them a pass on "A Life Without You" because I know they were streaming everything and I'm sure it meant a lot to those that have never been to Hanson Day or BTTI to get to hear that one. But the fact that it's out there now means they can skip it next year, right?

"Tearing it Down" was the best, and the entire crowd was so, so into it. By the time the encore came and Zac was singing "I Don't Want To Go Home," I had completely forgotten anything was wrong with his voice and it sounded great to me. It's entirely possible I was caught up in a moment and just loving it all instead of looking for imperfections. If we all have animal instincts, there's one of mine--being the eternal optimist. I had a great time this weekend being not quite as young and dumb as I used to be, but every bit as childish and silly as always. ♥


asphodelia said...

I couldn't be there this year, but I've heard from a lot of people that it was a lot better organised than last year. I'm totally with you on the queuing - enough of that. It's liberating to just turn up - which is what I was able to do in Norway, in fact.
Looking forward to your EP review (you've committed yourself now).

Becky said...

Nice review, Holly! I had a blast this year. Best year yet.

Jody L. Powell said...

Your assessment of this year's event is pretty much the same as mine. It was nice to have the URL of Store items prior to going there, but it didn't necessarily speed things up since the group of people waiting for their order to be fulfilled got to be bigger than people shopping. So it still needs to be tweaked.

At first I worried that I had overbooked myself and that I would be stressed running from one event to the other, but it actually flowed pretty well. And I had FUN at every event. So much so that I was almost distracted from the realizing that I was going to see a CONCERT at the end of the events.

Overall, the stress level was lower than before, largely because we didn't line up for anything after registration and the store. If you don't line up and get in the front, then you're relegated to the middle, where I can't see, so I just plan to stand in the back and I don't have to line up for that!

Already looking forward to next year!