July 10, 2024

Six Reasons You Need to Buy These Toronto Seats!

Up for grabs Sold: Two pairs of Two Day Passes at the Danforth Music Hall + Two Afterparty Tickets. These are assigned seats located in the front row of the mezzanine indicated by the red dots on the map below. I'm selling all of the above as a bundle for the face value of $234 USD (which was the discounted fan club presale price).

When I originally bought these tickets, I had hoped to check out a new city and use the freedom of great balcony seats to play worry-free tourist for a couple of days. I've since decided that the role I should be playing on these dates instead is someone who occasionally rests and goes to work in between Hanson shows. Boring, I know, but my impulse buy can now be your impulse buy. Here are six reasons why I chose these seats and why you should, too!

1. It's good for your mental health.

Think about all of the stress you've felt waiting in lines, the hours you've put into getting the best spot possible all culminating in a peak level of anxiety when people start lurking at the front of the line just before doors. Will they run faster than you? Will you trip on the way in the door? Will something you forgot you left in your pocket cause security to hold you aside while everyone runs freely past you to the barricade? With these tickets? Let them. You know exactly where you're headed, and no one can take it from you.

2. It's good for your physical health.

2A. (Your feet will thank you) 

Remember when you used to wear super cute wedges/sandals/flats to shows because you didn't have to worry that your feet would be ready to fall off by the final bow? No? Okay, well what about a time when you wore perfectly reasonable shoes to shows and weren't already cursing the fact that you had to stand on your feet for another three hours just barely 30 minutes after doors? Good news! With these tickets, you don't have to stand up while you wait for the show to start. You don't have to stand up while you listen to the openers. You don't even have to stand up for Hanson if you don't want to because you'll have a nicely cushioned seat and nobody standing in front of you.

2B. (Your bladder will thank you.)

Since these are front row aisle seats, you can make as many bathroom and bar trips as you like without the awkward sideways shuffle through the 3-inch gap between the seats ahead of you and approximately 15 strangers. AND your seat will still be there every time you return! Just don't get too cocky about all that extra space and step too close to the mezzanine wall. 

3. You'll have a clear view regardless of your height.

I started to pitch this one as a solution to short people problems because it's why I (at 5'2") wanted these seats, but with the capabilities of cell phones and the ever-present inconsiderate few, having your view blocked at a concert is now an everybody problem. Luckily, the first row location of these seats guarantees a great sightline free from obstruction no matter your height or obnoxious surroundings. There will be no tall people, selfie sticks, chronic live streamers, face timers, rogue puffy paint signs, or kids on shoulders to block your view. You can just sit back, relax, and play Statler & Waldorf to the mayhem below.

4. You can take your time buying merch. 

I don't know about you, but I usually skip the merch booth at GA shows unless it's after the show and the line looks abnormally short. Even if you luck out and find yourself in a quick line after the show, sizes are usually picked over by then and things will be sold out. Having a specific seat means you can go straight to the merch booth when you enter the venue without worrying about establishing a spot in the crowd or making sure you have a friend capable of saving it. It also means you can put your merch under your seat and not be stuck holding it all night long. Win-win!

5. You can enjoy being a tourist.

You can visit the CN Tower, the St. Lawrence Market, the Hockey Hall of Fame, an array of museum options, or take a day trip to Niagara Falls and still make it to your seat by show time without ever setting foot in the line. Sure, you could go back home and tell people you saw Hanson in Toronto, but wouldn't you rather go back home with memories of seeing a whole lot more?

6. They're the best seats you'll find and at the best price.

The entire mezzanine is currently sold out on Ticketmaster. Of course, you're welcome to purchase the only pair of mezz tickets currently available on Stubhub that are a few rows behind these and over double the price. If your happy place is 3rd row overpriced resale balcony tickets, I support you, but I also have questions.

All jokes aside, I wish I could make this one work, but I'd rather resell directly to a real fan at a fair price than use a resale site that will charge you way more while paying me less. If you're interested and don't already have me on social media, feel free to send me a message on instagram https://www.instagram.com/_hollywouldnt/. Have fun and eat some poutine for me!

June 5, 2024

Time Machine: 2024 EP Review

If you've made it to this page, it's probably safe to assume that you're already aware of Hanson's fan club and the fact that they release an exclusive five(ish) song EP every year to fan club members. If not, well, now you are. You can visit this page on hanson.net to learn more, sign up, or renew. If you're already a member, there are two ways to listen. 1. You can stream the EP (and Hanson's entire catalog!) directly in their media player, or 2. If you're renewed through 2025, you can visit your order history page and download the song files directly to your device. Happy listening! 

Before I dive into each song, I want to point out that this year has provided a new challenge for anyone attempting a closer look at Time Machine. They haven't released the digital lyric booklet yet, which means I'm working off of what my own ears hear and a few crowdsourced fixes. I'd like to believe I'm a step up from some of the awesomely bad auto-generated youtube captions out there, but consider this your disclaimer that I've written these lyrics down as I hear them, and as of now there's no way to prove me wrong unless you can track down a Hanson and ask. Best of luck with that.

1. Every Time We Touch

At the end of each song segment you'll find my best attempt at transcribing the lyrics, and in the interest of transparency, I've made any text that I'm unsure about red. While "Every Time We Touch" is a contender for my favorite song on this EP, it's also the clear winner if we're giving a ribbon to the song with more red text than a King James New Testament. I really wasn't expecting an Isaac song to give me so much enunciation trouble, but this one had me going "What in the Taylor Hanson are you saying, sir?" on more than one occasion.

Good-natured heckling aside, the song is really fun. It has an 80s power-pop vibe that reminds me of songs like "Stop Me In My Tracks" (complete with similar car imagery) and "Somebody that Wants To Love You." Even without the complete lyrics, I can tell the general storyline is boy meets girl he likes and drives off into the sunset with her. I want to say that the "green lights, bright stars, and deep cuts" line is my favorite, but first I would need to be sure that's what he's saying. It just creates the perfect image of driving fast at night with a good sound track playing in the background, and I think the green light is more than just a traffic signal and is symbolic of the girl returning his feelings.

I didn't get to watch the listening party stream until I returned home from Tulsa, and I was shocked to learn that this song was born during an Isaac solo show at BTTI back in 2018. I was there in person and even briefly commented on how good his off-the-cuff writing was in my blog from that year. I can totally hear it now thanks to a little help from a clip shared on hansonstage, but I don't think I ever would have made that connection on my own. I'm glad to see it finally became a whole song and found a home on an EP.

2. Ahead of Your Time

This song immediately reminded me of the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling, probably partly due to the fact that I had to memorize it in middle school, but also because I've heard Isaac bring it up a few times in passing. Without going full English teacher on you, I'll quickly say that "If" was published in 1910 and shares an author with The Jungle Book. The general premise is a father imparting wisdom on his son, and the structure is essentially a bunch of lines beginning with "If you can (insert responsible life lesson here)" and ending with a final line stating that if you can do all of these things, then "Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, / And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!" Basically, here's the formula for how to succeed in life.

I'm not suggesting that "If" was a conscious source of inspiration for "Ahead of Your Time," just that they share a common universal theme and a similar structure. And I PROMISE I'm not going to put the two side by side for a deeper nerd-level comparison, but if I did, I'd applaud the Hanson version for being more self-deprecating. Instead of implying "Here, son, learn from the master!" "Ahead of Your Time" takes a lot more subtle approach with a tone more along the lines of "I only know a few things for sure, but I'd like to share them with you." Honestly, I fall a little bit more in love with this song the more time I spend digging into it.

As for the sound, I think they nailed matching the melody to the lyrics. The chorus just oozes this sort of melancholy nostalgic feeling that's perfect for a song about the passage of time. Yes, it sounds like "Down" in places, but more than that I'm reminded of so many sad but catchy country songs of my childhood. It may not have the drawl or twang of a country song, but it feels like it has the heart of one.

On a less sappy, somewhat ridiculous note, between the "master of time" and "heart of a child," I feel like the wording in the chorus is a little bit Hocus Pocus, a little bit Doctor Who. If you mix the right ingredients: wisdom of elders, strength of your prime, and heart of a child, you can create a master of time. Were the Sanderson Sisters actually Time Lords?

3. I Don't Want To Work That Hard

"I Don't Want To Work That Hard" narrowly escaped the red letter lyric treatment, but only because re-watching the listening party stream corrected my misheard "Buddy, I'm sure" to "money off shore," and "Marry an influenza" just doesn't make grammatical sense even if it's 1,000% what he's saying.

In the stream, Zac mentioned that the character from this song is basically the same persona from songs like "White Collar Crime" and "Gold Miner" (he didn't say Seymour, but it sounds like Seymour, too). I love the idea of revisiting that guy from time to time with a new song updating us about his latest scheme or screwup. The song is pretty straight-forward and doesn't need an explanation, but I do love the bridge where you realize that maybe the guy is more than the lazy privileged tool he sounds like in the beginning. The mask of indifference slips off for just a moment, and you get a glimpse of a person who is incredibly overwhelmed and spiraling underneath all the fake bravado. But then the moment passes, and he goes right back to playing the role of the shallow guy who only cares about getting ahead and taking shortcuts to an easy life. It's kind of sad, but it makes for a better song.

4. Forever

"Forever" was giving me slightly religious vibes before I ever watched the listening party stream to confirm it. It sounds more like a romantic love than the type of love between a person and God, but it has several references to transcending the time we have on earth, so I think it's simply about a Godly marriage and spending the rest of your life with someone that you know is going to literally follow you into eternity. There's even a gospel choir in the background to tie it all together. Hanson left it all vague enough that you can take or leave the religious context and listen to it as just a love song if you want, but I do think it's there if you're looking for it.

This one has a few lyrics I'm unsure of, and ironically the one I'm least sure of is probably my favorite. During my first listen in my car, I was so sure I heard "You are the sixth string, the start of every daydream." I questioned for a moment what it meant. What has six strings? The answer I came up with was that a bass guitar typically has four, but a regular guitar has six. Musically, the sixth string brings the ability to play a melody and creates more harmony and depth in a song. It sounded like a great metaphor to me until I sat down to write out the lyrics, and after listening more closely, it sounds like "slip string." I asked a few friends and they echoed hearing "sixth string" and "slip string," but also added "sleep stream" and "sleep's dream." Whatever it is, I'm wondering if this is going to be that awkward moment where I wind up liking my own accidental lyric better than Hanson's.

P.S. I gave up transcribing the lyrics at the end because it kind of goes on, well, forever. I'll let you decide if that was a cleverly intentional choice.

5. Can't Stop Starting

I've already said that "Every Time We Touch" is a contender for my favorite song on this EP. "Can't Stop Starting" is its competition. I just love the ridiculously catchy tune, and it's the kind of song you can hear for 30 seconds and still be singing two days later. I also have to give it props for putting up a pretty good fight for my favorite cheesiest Hanson lyric of all time with a line like "I guess some just play with fire, 'cause pyros can't retire." (For now, first place is still held strong by "Have it sauteed, grilled or filleted, we're cooking up a backbeat, so pick up a plate.")

It also has a fun nod to their TTA song "Can't Stop" at the end, which led to a fun segue from "Can't Stop Starting" directly into "Can't Stop" at the Hanson Day concert.

The thing keeping "Can't Stop Starting" from taking first place, though? I can't get past the fact that the title/chorus sounds like a clever play on words at first, but when I stop and think about it, the meaning isn't immediately clear. Every time I hear it (which is plenty throughout the duration of the song), my grammar-trained brain begs "Finish your sentence! Can't stop starting WHAT?"

Obviously it's a song about a guy who can't help falling for a girl he meets, so I think logically the thing he can't stop starting is falling for her. Once those feelings get going, there's no putting it in reverse. It's already started, and he can't stop. There, it does make sense. But I still can't stop starting to wish there was one more word in there to make it a complete thought.

Do you hear any lyrics differently than I did or have any suggestions to fill in my blanks? Let me know!

May 29, 2024

Hanson Day 2024

Dearest Reader,

Those not in attendance at Cain’s Ballroom this past fortnight have surely missed the social event of the season.

Translation: My review is late because I used my only day off after flying home to binge watch the new season of Bridgerton instead of writing this post. My bad.

Fortunately, there was hardly enough drama, scandal, or match-making at Hanson Day to warrant the continued use of the Lady Whistledown format. (Though it is this author’s humble opinion that many young ladies in pursuit of making the acquaintance of a Hanson brother would be well-matched in tenacity and enthusiasm with the marriage mart mamas of the ton amidst a shortage of eligible suitors.)

But let’s put one nerdy fandom aside and focus on the one that actually brings us here.
As usual, I find myself struggling with how to discuss an event that's always a good time but looks the same as previous years on paper. I could probably write the entire post by copying and pasting excerpts from past reviews. Is it still plagiarism if I'm copying my own work? For now, I’ll spare you the memory lane mashup of quotes that still ring true and start by focusing on what wasn’t the same as past Hanson Days.

Food On The Move

The first difference for me was coming in a day early and attending my first Food On the Move event. To be completely honest, I’ve always supported Taylor’s involvement in FOTM from a distance, and it has never been clear to me if the organization really wanted Hanson fans to get involved in person or if they simply accepted that stamping Taylor’s name on something is going to draw our interest. If anyone has had the same reservations, I have to say that Taylor and Kevin’s speeches at the luncheon showed nothing but gratitude and encouragement for fan involvement. I’m not saying you should book a flight to volunteer at FOTM in hopes of rubbing elbows with Taylor (the same way the walks were never meant to be a mobile M&G), but if you have the ability to give back with your time or make a donation, they clearly want to make FOTM bigger and better and are thankful for any support they can get. Taylor and Kevin both spoke so passionately about what they are doing to help make things sustainable for a long term difference, and I can't wait to see how much progress they make by next Hanson Day. You can visit https://www.foodonthemoveok.com/ to learn more or make a donation.

HTP & Karaoke

The biggest change to the Hanson Day agenda this year was moving both Karaoke and the HTP recording from their usual location at The Vanguard to Cain's Ballroom with a much larger capacity. While I’m all for preserving the intimate vibes of a successful event, it has never made much sense to me to create an event that excludes people when you know so many are traveling extensively to be there and want to participate. It’s one thing to be disappointed that you can’t travel to go to an event; it’s another to make it all the way to the right city and still not be able to get in the door. I was happy they risked moving things to include more fans, and I enjoyed not panicking quite so much while buying tickets!

The HTP reporters asked great questions, and I have to agree with Katie's suggestion to release the EP a week before Hanson Day. Back in the day, we used to be handed the new EP at registration, IF it was ready, and then it was a scramble to locate a CD player and try to listen (I can recall one year's impromptu "listening party" crammed in a car in a Taco Bueno parking lot). More often than not, our first listen would be in Cain's with no clue of the lyrics, glaring at the loud talker next to us hoping they would shut up so we could make sense of what we were hearing. And let's be honest. Taylor's enunciation can be questionable on the clearest recording; there's no chance we're hearing those lyrics right for the first time in a crowd. (Cool song, bro, but why are we dancing like donkeys?). It was always a privilege to hear those songs for the first time ever in a live setting, but it also felt like a challenge to fully appreciate them until I got home and listened on my own.

The streaming EP listening parties offer an easier solution, but trying to listen in a room of six friends I haven't seen in a year is like trying to play a game of "who can stay quiet the longest" with a room full of kindergarteners. We just can't help excitedly talking over it. Releasing the EP on May 6th seems like the perfect way to give us more time to learn the songs and also celebrate actual Hanson day, which often gets passed over quietly. I understand Hanson's perspective of not wanting to take away part of the excitement of going to HDay, but consider me part of team release the EP on May 6th. Maybe the compromise is putting it in the media player for us on the 6th and still streaming a listening party during HDay with all of the behind the scenes/making of content.

In the interest of not wasting this whole segment feeding you my opinions on the EP release, I’ll also mention that there was a funny moment during HTP where Zac implied that they strategically crafted Hanson Day and waiting in lines on purpose to provide us with the opportunity to form bonds and make friends, and that we should be grateful for the opportunity to wait. Not quite wrong, but also…not quite right. Dear Zac, some of us make friends by the 3 hour mark and enemies by the 8th. If you’re going to take credit for my friends, just know that you’re equally responsible for ALL the interactions we've had in your lines. (In all seriousness, I haven’t made a line “enemy” in years, and the registration line has improved a lot in recent years. The store line is more of an enter-at-your-own-risk, you know what you’re getting yourself into if you see 200 people ahead of you and still choose to stand behind them situation).

As for karaoke, I’m not sure if I’m about to put an unpopular opinion in writing or if everyone in attendance will agree: Karaoke @ Cains > Karaoke @ Vanguard. They still capped the attendance to less than the full capacity so that it wasn't overcrowded, but it didn’t feel empty, either. Isaac was constantly present, and the crowd loved surprise co-host Mac Hanson. The two sang “Country Roads” together to kick things off, and I quickly lost track of how many times Isaac popped up to sing with fans. “Goodbye Earl” will always be my jam at these things. Mary Anne & Wanda 4ever; I bet their friendship could've withstood 8+ hours in a Hanson line...but probably don't try to cut them.

Beyond Perennial  & Hanson Day Concert

Whether you loved the Beyond Perennial setlist or not, the stats don't lie: every last song of that set was a fan club release. They played about half of Perennial and filled in the rest with other fan club songs. No singles, setlist staples, or MON songs, and for that I think they deserve a round of applause. My favorite song of the night was "Time Baby Take It," which tbh I kind of forgot existed, but to be fair, I think Hanson did too. It was just really, really good in the moment and I'm so glad they let it out of the vault.

One minor outtake is they introduced "Better Man" by saying it had never been played live before, but my brain was shouting "You played that on the Wintry Mix Tour!" followed immediately by a memory of hearing Zac sing it as "Trash Man" in Jamaica. Hansonstage confirms I've now heard it 7 times and they've played it 14, so I'm not sure how they collectively forgot playing it a whole 13 times. 

I was fully prepared to dedicate my first sentence about the Members' Only concert to the fact that they didn't play the entire new EP this year, but then I double checked the set list and proved myself wrong. I'm taking this as another sign that they should just give us the EP sooner so I know what I'm hearing at the show. In addition to the full EP, we got several of the setlists staples missing from the first night, a pretty somber ending ("Young and Dumb" and "Tonight"), and a Taylor solo of WYIYD that I am convinced needs to have time restrictions placed around it because sir, you already made us sob over that one in January and I would like a break. 

Dance Party

I am such a sucker for these themed afterparties. I don't care a thing in the world about dancing, but I am here for a good excuse to wear something fun and unpredictable. This year's theme was a little all over the place with Star Wars references and nods to Y2K, but it resulted in a fun range of outfits from inflatable aliens to storm troopers to Zenon cosplays. Everyone looked great!

I'm sure if you saw me in my starry outfit, I blended in with every other basic girl there, but the truth is I stepped out of my comfort zone to put on that dress in public. I originally had another outfit in mind, but while struggling to find the right matching top, I came across this see through bodycon mini dress covered in stars that I felt too old/too conservative/too fill-your-own-insecurity-in-the-blank to wear, but for some reason I couldn't stop eyeing it. I told a friend that I kept going back to this dress every time I tried to finish out my outfit, and instead of talking me out of it, she told me if I felt like I could pull it off that I should wear it now while I can (real talk: girl, you're not getting any younger!). I bought it; I wore it; I had a fabulous time. Get you a friend that will tell you to wear what makes you happy and dance around with you in matching ridiculous boots.

Themes I'd like to see in the future: Slumber Party, Masquerade, Crayon Box (is this a thing? It should be a thing. Everyone just picks whatever color they want and dress in it head to toe).

Bonus Content

In addition to all of the usual Hday things, this year:
-I was coerced into daily STG gelato, which is delicious if you've never tried it.
-I accidentally gave a stranger terrible directions to the baseball stadium, only to then accidentally wind up at the stadium at the same time as him and be heckled mercilessly for it. Sorry to uphold the stereotype that women don't know directions. At least I know he's not still out there looking for it.
-I got to celebrate a dear friend's wedding, and I'm so happy we were able to take all the cheesy wedding photos and see her looking so beautiful. It's fitting that we met on a sidewalk when she was 14 and now we're taking sidewalk wedding photos. Congratulations, Morgen & Jacob <3 


In summary, Hanson stepped up their setlist game by playing fan club songs at a fan club event, the semi-unclear dance party theme ended up being a hit, and the new EP is my favorite of the last several years. I'll leave you with this: Support the cause, wear the dress, buy the ticket, get on the plane, and while you're doing it all, don't forget to be the person that encourages others to do the same. Also probably don't ask me for directions.

If you are a fan club member, you can log in and click here to watch the Listening Party, Hanson Time Podcast Live, and Hanson Day Concert & Nightcap.

January 10, 2024

Back to the Island 2024

I'm not going to rank all BTTIs against each other, but on a scale of 1-11, this year belongs somewhere in the upper third. I met quite a few first timers, and when I asked how it measured up to what they expected, every last one of them said it was even better than they imagined and that they plan to come back again. If you haven't been and think you can go once and get it out of your system, let this be your warning that that's not a thing. There is no getting Back to the Island out of your system, there is only opening the gateway and sliding down the slippery slope until the number of times you've attended BTTI becomes inversely proportional to the number of dollars in your bank account. Can confirm.

Full Band Shows

True to tradition, the first show kicked off with a cover of "Back to the Island," then put a massive grin on my face when they surprised us with a cover of Weezer's "Island in the Sun" for the first time ever. Though it had absolutely nothing to do with this happening, allow me to remind you that I wrote a whole blog post back in 2015 about island-themed covers they should play, and this song was #1 on my list. Obviously I was thrilled to hear it.

Number three on my list, "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys, also made an appearance for the first time. Both songs sounded amazing, and we all know their voices were built to do justice to Beach Boys covers. They played the "Three Little Birds"/"Stir It Up" medley they've played for the past few years as well as "Islands in the Stream," and I got to hear "Feeling Alright" for the first time since my 20th birthday (we won't do the math on that one). There were more Hanson songs than covers, but the whole setlist had a very Island-themed covers vibe that I really enjoyed.

The second show Taylor mentioned something about deep cuts and then opened with "Dream Girl," so I knew we were about to hit FOMO territory. It had quite a few fan club songs, and my personal favorite moment was "Trembling" which was fun and upbeat and has never been played live before. I didn't think they would ever play "Working" again after the year it was released at  Hanson Day, but they proved me wrong. There were a handful of staples mixed in ("Hey," "Runaway Run," "This Time Around," "Waiting for This"), so overall on the deep cuts scale, I'm gonna say I could've used a bandaid, but there was no need for stitches this time.

The funny thing is after that show, my roomie and I went back to our room and were talking about how sometimes the "rares" we want to hear aren't necessarily the songs that have only been played a handful of times ever, but the songs that USED to be staples but haven't been played in a long time. I said "Like Dancing in the Wind electric with two guitars?" she agreed, and then magically Hanson opened the final show with it.

"Tearing it Down" was another highlight for me from the last show, but I think "Cried" was the real showstopper for most of the crowd. My only criticism for the night would be throwing in something like that so early in the set almost demands you balance it with another "wow" moment at the end or else you risk it feeling a bit anticlimactic. That and the "Song to Sing" closing wasn't my favorite, but they said it was a request, so I assume it was a really special moment to someone and maybe they needed it.

I really don't have a favorite show this year and thought all of them were great.

The Solos

I struggle with reviewing the solos every year because I hate feeling like I'm ranking the brothers and inevitably putting someone at the bottom. To get the negative out of the way, I will say my least favorite thing wasn't anyone's performance or song choice, it was how long Isaac took to get started. He was at least 30 if not 45 minutes late, and we had early dinner reservations that were at risk of not happening with every extra minute he took to show up. I think the general consensus when the schedule was announced was that we would have preferred solos to stay at 5pm rather than 4pm to give us more beach time, so having him show up closer to 5 anyway kind of defeated the point of altering the schedule. Nothing says you got old quite like remembering the preteen days of dreaming of seeing Hanson live just once or having them simply know you exist, and realizing you're now at a point of tapping your watch on a private beach wishing one of them would hurry up so you can make it to an early dinner. Hanger aside, his set included an exciting sneak peak at "Mother of Exiles," a song from his new side project, and ended on a high note with "Smile" and "Lonely Again."

Zac's set opened and closed with songs from the new 2023 fan club EP and included what I thought was a really killer vocal performance of "Use Me Up." I think half of the crowd showed up with kazoos for "The Ballad of Seymour Better Times", which makes me wonder how much disappointment there will be when he eventually leaves it off of the list. I personally love it and don't mind if it stays an island staple.

I swear I am not a "Taylor Girl" (or a Zac Girl or an Isaac Girl), but my blog always tries to prove otherwise when I go to talk about his solo set, and I'll be sticking to that theme again this year. He told a sad story about a friend losing a child right before playing "With You In Your Dreams," and for a moment I felt like I was back at an Isaac solo show circa 2017. He had the whole crowd sobbing, myself included, but managed to pick the pace back up and keep things upbeat for the second half. I was not at all prepared for him to break out "Semi-Hollow" after being told it would probably never be played live, but he nailed it and I think it was my favorite song of the entire trip. (Also, how fun/ironic is it that he sang a love song to a guitar using only a piano?) "We Belong Together" was great but didn't land quite as well as I hoped with the crowd participation, but maybe that's because I was standing in the back and couldn't hear everyone up front. I've always thought it would be a great crowd song and would love to hear it full band one day at a regular show.

The Events

This year's events were Family Feud hosted by Isaac and Taylor, Mario Kart with Zac, and a Poolside Dance Party with Taylor on the final night. They were divided by colored passes and scheduled so that they happened at the exact same time, so one half of the crowd was at Family Feud while the other half was at Mario Kart, and then the next night we all switched. I don't think that's necessarily how it actually played out, but that was the general idea. I had a pink pass and experienced Family Feud first and Games with Zac second.

Family Feud

Taylor randomly showed up once during Family Feud a few years ago, but this was his first time actually being a part of the game from the beginning. The dynamic was basically Isaac hosting/telling questionable jokes, and Taylor trying to pull things back on track and not always succeeding. Isaac was in his element telling us stories and whatever popped into his mind (whether he should or not--haunted houses, anyone?), and the crowd ate it up. I know they ask for our feedback every year, but I'd be very curious to hear Taylor's review of his first Family Feud experience. I did enjoy that he took on an event that put him in a more interactive role after several years of only seeing him from a distance at the dance party.

Mario Kart

I would never call myself a "gamer," but I spent a lot of time with my Super Nintendo as an only child, and over the years I find myself accidentally owning a new gaming system every time a new Zelda game comes out. I spent many nights my freshman year of college battling friends at Game Cube Mario Kart, and there was a time I had all of those courses and their shortcuts memorized. I haven't played it with any regularity since, so I'm more than a little rusty but not unaware of how to play. I had the opportunity to play against Zac a few years ago at the Melia and lost terribly, so any confidence I had about knowing what I was doing was shut down pretty quickly.

So when he called me up to play in the first group this year, I was excited to participate but prepared for a similar outcome. We played a Grand Prix, which is 4 races with 3 laps each and a final winner at the end. Obvious spoiler: Zac was that final winner, but in a totally unexpected twist, I somehow beat him in the first round. It was anticlimactic and short lived, but I guess it can go on a list of things I never thought I'd do. 

(P.S. I doubt there is any footage out there of me beating him, but if anyone has something more than dark photos from behind, feel free to send them my way!)

Pool Party

I'm always team pool dance party over any other type of dance party. This year some fans started their own white/silver theme, and while not everyone participated, you could tell the ones that did had a good time coming up with their outfits and had fun accessories. There were sparkly headbands, light up heels, silver tassels everywhere, and a ton of glowsticks. Seeing how much people got into it makes me hope Hanson will consider giving us an official theme next time.

It felt like there were a lot more people in the pool this year, but in a full spring break party sort of way, not over capacity or worthy of concern. There was one moment where the crowd was cheering loudly so I went closer to see what I was missing, expecting Taylor to be doing something, but it turned out to be a guy thrusting by a flamingo float to "Sexy and I Know it" just below Taylor's perch. You kind of had to be there, but trust that the party was alive and well this year.

I managed to get a video of Taylor jumping in the pool, and the entire time I was recording and people started swarming around him in the water, all I could do was picture those colonies of fire ants that join together to make a giant floating island of bodies to save themselves in a flood.

I'm not saying I would have behaved any differently if I were in the pool; I'm just saying my caption could have easily been "When the colony gets flooded, but you have to save the queen."


For the second year in a row, we had Allen, Mack, Myers, Moore as the special guests, and they played a welcome set on the beach before the bonfire on the first night in addition to a full show on the third night. I love their energy and banter and the friendly dynamic they have going with Hanson; it's obvious they work well together. They showed up to participate both nights of Family Feud (with some PG-13 worthy stage names both times), and they played Mario Kart with Zac during my session which was entertaining if only because every time someone shouted "Go, Zac!" it could've applied to three out of the four players. I would welcome new music to the island if they go a different direction next year, but I do think I will miss the fun that they AMMM brings when that eventually happens. We've had a special guest play twice, but never three years, so I guess we'll see in a few months if they'll be the first.


This is getting long, but I can't end without telling you that if you're ever worried that you did something embarrassing in front of Hanson, you're not alone, and also apparently I have a ten year statute of limitations on accidental hugs that ran out this year. (In case you missed it and enjoy secondhand embarrassment, here's a post about the time I accidentally hugged Taylor at 2014 BTTI.) So this year I walk up to greet them, and Taylor puts out his hand for a handshake. I shake his hand like I'm a person who has shaken hands before, so things are starting off strong. Then I *think* Zac puts out both arms for a hug, so I start to hug him back, but while I'm hugging him it hits me that I have a history of misreading hugs, and also why would he be hugging me after his brother shook my hand, so obviously I've misread the situation and created a repeat of 2014 with a different brother. So while my brain is firing nine levels of overthinking, I blurt out mid-hug "I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm hugging you." I do my thing of taking the photo and high tailing it out of there before I can do more damage, and in a true repeat of 2014, totally skip even looking at Isaac because I'm in flight mode.

The best part is a friend was taking photos and video the whole time. I cringed at the laughably bad photo she got of us with identical "I don't want to be here" body language and couldn't bring myself to watch the video until I got home. Plot twist: Video confirms he was going in for a hug, and I'm the one that overthought and shut it down in the middle. I've done everything from dance on stage with these people to taking out trash with them, so there is honestly no comprehendible reason for me to still be this awkward in their presence. I think the moral of this story is I am body language illiterate, at least in the Hanson context, and y'all need to watch me around Isaac in 2034.

The Rest

I think the big question on everyone's minds this year was how things would go with extra rooms sold at the Bahia. I can't speak for the Bahia guests, but overall I didn't feel a huge difference. The beach might have been a bit fuller during shows, but I purposely tried to be closer this year so I wouldn't have to feel that potential effect. We didn't get our usual Beach Banquet on the final show night, but I've never fully enjoyed the long lines and mild chaos that comes with it anyway.

Last year felt so laid back and had a bit more mingling from the band than in previous years, and I think we were all hoping that vibe would stick. I would say overall that it did. They weren't out snorkeling with us or anything like that, but I saw that all three of them were mingling beyond the designated photos at different times throughout the event. It doesn't mean that everyone will have the opportunity to engage with them when they choose to make themselves more accessible, but it feels like progress to see them sharing their time with us and not being cornered into leaving.

So overall in the pro column this year? Amazing weather, getting to hear "Semi-Hollow," "We Belong Together," "Island in the Sun," and "Kokomo," spending time with friends doing nothing, and beating Zac in a Mario Kart race. And the cons list? Coming back home.