Sunday, December 20, 2015

"All the roads reach out to you" - Why Hanson Fans Are the Best

Merry Xmas. A couple weeks ago I did an entry about my frustrations on why so many people in the fanbase were so awful, and why the term "Fanson" may as well be a 4-letter word. Nothing has really changed my feelings on that, but it would certainly be irresponsible for me not to show the other side of the coin as well.

So for this entry,I'm going to look at why this fanbase is so fantastic. There are a lot of reasons, and they affect both me personally as well as the world at large.

Starting at the highest level would be the obvious charity work the community has embarked on over the last (nearly) 10 years. Yes, the band is a massive part of getting the ball rolling, but realistically if the fans showed no interest or support for what they were presenting to us, most of these efforts would have died on the vine back in 2007. Realistically, it's obvious that a lot of people do it just because want to try to get a bunch of pictures with the band. But if even 2% of the people at every show are motivated to actually follow up on their own once they're out of the concert environment, it's going to make a difference.

In a different realm of the charity universe, it was impressive to see the community reaction when Ashley had her boating accident earlier this year (wrote about this in an entry here). Aside from her friends donating and drumming up support from others, people that don't even know her threw a lot of money into that fund to help cover her medical expenses. I saw her at the Dallas show and it was really impressive that she was already back at the concert game such a short time after the accident.

As selfish as the fans can be at times, they are also just as generous when it matters most.

Although I've met some deceptive and manipulative people that I would have preferred to avoid along the way, it is without exaggeration that I can state that some of the most valued friends I have are people I've met through this fanbase. There are some people I've known since the early 2000s I can't imagine NOT knowing at this point. To draw from my own quote from many years ago - this community has shown me the magic of having friends you've known seemingly forever, yet only see for a few hours a year.

I place some of these people right up there with people I've known since elementary school. Heck, even those who I never got that close to still come through for me at times. There was a period about two and a half years ago where I was absolutely at my lowest point, but didn't say much about it. There was a person I met at ONE show, well over five years prior and I had barely talked to since then that reached out to talk to me and was an absolutely invaluable contact for me for a few months. Random stuff like that doesn't happen in real life, yet it did in this case...thanks to knowing people I met through the Realm of Hanson. If I'm being 100% honest, I can say that the main reason I still travel to the occasional show is because I want to see my friends. The music aspect of it is just the awesome side benefit. If the day comes when the band decides they have nothing left to say musically, I'm still going to be close with some of my fellow fans.

On a broader level, it's just flat-out reassuring that at this point, no matter what city I'd travel to for a show, I'd have at least a few allies there.


I've got some plans I'm looking to execute on in 2016. One really cool idea I've had for years that I'm hoping to be able to pull off, but it's going to take a lot of preparation and probably some luck...more info hopefully coming sooner than later. If I can get it rolling it'll get this site to feature something besides just the blog stuff. Enjoy your New Years Eve (or go to bed at 9:30 pm, whatever you're into).

Santa has risen.


Blog title taken from Devin Townsend Project - Lady Helen
All the roads that once were right
Stay the way they are

Friday, December 4, 2015

"You Know What You Are?" - I'm Not A F*&#ing Fanson

This is why we can't have nice things.

I've seen a lot since I started doing this in 2000. The first time I ever went to a show, some guy from a local radio station was doing a remote broadcast from the venue's entryway and called me out literally 5 seconds after I walked in - "Sir, I think you're the wrong place" or some other crap with a bunch of people laughing. Honestly, at that point in time I guess I don't blame him for joking about it. I was with a girl so at least it sort of looked like I was "dragged along" or something (in reality I was mostly dragging her along).

But that was just a prelude - one of those radio station shows where every band plays for an hour and that's it. The real thing was a couple months later - a full show, by myself, with a 2nd row ticket. Walked in and it didn't take long before people were doing one of the following:

*Confusing me with security (you know how most security personnel are wearing Samhain t-shirts)
*Coming up and trying to hug me - girls looking like they ranged from 9 to 35. I was 21 at the time.
*Asking if they could have my seat because I wasn't a fan anyway

Although I actually had a pretty cool experience with the band that night (may write about that some other day although it's not a big deal), the atmosphere and the people kind of left me with a bad taste. Too much focus on me until the band actually came out and diverted it to themselves where it belonged.

A few years later the acoustic tour started and I wound up going to 4 shows. I had zero "plan" outside of knowing where I'd be driving (Mapquest printouts all over my car!) and zero friends to meet when I got there. I knew literally no one. The first show I went to wound up being a local one for me, and an (unplanned) overnight wait at that. It was actually pretty encouraging at first - from the prior night into the late afternoon, people were generally nice and got along and shared stuff.

Once the time got a bit closer to doors, it suddenly became everyone for themselves. People that just got there an hour or so earlier walked up to the front of the line. Garbage left everywhere. People "telling" on each other to security. Once inside the venue, relentless jostling for position began because, as we've learned, the band loves you more if you are in the front row. Then we've got people yelling dumb shit at the band during the show. Once again I went in with what I thought were reasonable expectations and left disappointed, and it had nothing to do with the performance itself.

It continues. At the Cleveland stop on that tour, literally the entire show was spent holding my ground against people not powerful enough to move me, and I wasn't even that close to the stage. People screaming at me. People literally running at me to try to get me to move. First and only time I've ever totally lost it at a show. I don't even remember what I did but it involved a loud noise and everyone around me immediately clearing out in fear. Still the worst crowd I've ever seen at a show.

In Chicago (the show taped for the UAL DVD) apparently it was even worse but since I was against the barrier I didn't notice. I felt the people hitting me, but they're not going to be hurting me without outside weapons. Apparently I was being spit on as well but of course I didn't notice until I was informed afterwords.

Didn't stop at that tour. A year or two later in Detroit I had an experience almost as bad as Cleveland, to the point where I finally had enough and just shifted hard and knocked everyone behind me back about 5 feet. Still the only time I've ever done anything "physical" at a Hanson show, (besides me defending the girl I was with by flooring a drunk dude in Chicago a few years later, but that's another story). Yeah I felt bad about it.

I could go on with personal experiences, but I'm sure you get the idea by now.

The thing is, it's not just me. I've seen people I'm close friends with turn on each other in a heartbeat because one did not pick the other as their second for an meet and greet, in favor of a family member. I've seen people strand their friends a hundred miles away because it may have caused them to miss something related to the show. All but the most loyal friends are willing to destroy each other if they think it'll bring them closer to the band.

It gets incredibly irritating to see people bugging the band for multiple photos during the walks. I don't get how people are so oblivious to the band clearly being irritated as well. You are not humans. You are noisy little blobs of pink flesh that apparently exist only to annoy. Pick a better time. The majority of shows, if you demonstrate a little patience, the band will hang out for a little bit outside the venue when the show is over and take photos/sign whatever you want.

The fans criticize and obsess over the band to an insane degree. Not that this is exclusive to the Hanson fanbase, but I'd hope we'd be able to elevate ourselves a bit. Is somebody smoking? I don't think they should say that in a song. Do you have his address? Anyone have any pics of their kids? I don't think they should say that at all. Who are they voting for?

HELL no, I am not a "Fanson." I am a Hanson fan.

I've been to truckloads of concerts for boatloads of bands. I've still never run across fans that behave in this manner. The band we like is superior. We should be superior to other fanbases.


So, with that, I'll ask you to now come back for my entry in 2 weeks:

"Why Hanson Fans Are The Best."

The King Has Risen.


Blog title taken from Nine Inch Nails - You Know What You Are?
Don't you fucking know what you are?
Go on, get back to where you belong...

Friday, November 6, 2015

"Roots Bloody Roots" - The Conclusion of the RNR Tour

"You Got Your Rock N Roll In My Roots!"
"You Got Your Roots In My Rock N Roll!"

This is a rather disjointed post, but wanted to put something together, mostly regarding the "cover night" of the tour that just wrapped up.

It was kind of a relief in Chicago a few weeks ago when 3 or 4 songs into night 1 they rolled into "I've Got Soul." Not that I'm a massive fan of the song (on the album's pretty good live), but I honestly wasn't too hot on the idea of nothing but covers for 2 hours. After witnessing it twice, the cover night experiment came off well enough in execution, but I really would have liked a few more things that caught me off guard.

The only legit surprise of the night 1 sets has been the Billy Joel stuff, which was really well done ("Movin Out" = 5 stars). There were things here and there that were new ("Chain of Fools") but weren't exactly shocking to hear them play. In some cases they could have pleasantly surprised people with stuff they have played before but haven't revisited in years - most notably Optimistic, which I heard more than a few people talking about before the show started.

Before the show started in Chicago, I heard a few things on the PA that made me think about how floored I would have been to hear them play something like Faith No More's "Midlife Crisis." I know a song like that may not have even been within a million miles of the discussion because it does not actually fall into what Hanson's "roots" are, but it's not so much that song specifically that I'm looking for. Rather, the idea of hitting us with something completely out of nowhere. I don't buy that the only "unexpected" things Hanson has been influenced by in the last 20-25 years are a Radiohead song that they aren't actually performing on this tour, a radio-friendly Darkness song, and a forgettable Ed Sheeran song.

On the other side of the spectrum, something that wouldn't have been a surprise at all but would have generated probably the biggest response I've ever heard at a Hanson show would have been them opening with the Albertane-era medley they used to open shows back then. What's worse is they sort of tease it by doing a portion of it during the opening. I know doing the most obvious thing isn't always the right answer, but there's really nothing that can convince me that it wouldn't have been the right move here.

As someone who more often than not goes to the Chicago shows, I'm at least kind of used to having back to back shows in the same location. I have to say that, despite the low number of cities they played on this tour, it was nice to get to see two shows at a time with no travel required in a location that wasn't Chicago. Chicago the city is ok, but that venue has never been a favorite (despite it being what essentially introduced me to the Hanson world via DVD 12 years ago). Too many people packed in, and an awkward location. Despite also being a House of Blues, Dallas was a better experience. Full but not packed, and the biggest "fan reunion" I've seen in years. It seemed like nearly everyone was there.

It's definitely going to be rough going back to single show cities for next time.

I'm probably coming off as more critical than satisfied with these shows, but I actually liked them. I just think they could have been more. Night 2? Yeah, those shows were awesome. I seem to recall posting about how Roller Coaster Love should be a mainstay in the setlist after Hop Jam...and now it's their closer. Fantastic finisher. Zac making Robert proud on that Zeppelin stuff, boy.

...oh, and the afterparty stuff? It was ok, but a pale imitation of what we get in May. Go to MOE next year for the real deal.

The King Has Risen.


Blog title taken from Sepultura - Roots Bloody Roots
I pray
We don't need to change
Our ways to be saved

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

EXCLUSIVE - Leaked practice sheet for the "Roots" night of the upcoming tour

A contact of mine works at a practice space the band was in sometime in the last few weeks. He forwarded me a picture of what looks like a rehersal setlist. It's gonna be a good tour, people.

You heard it here first.

The King Has Risen.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"The Power to Survive" - Pulling It Together

I had to scrap my original topic for this blog about two weeks ago when something happened in the fan community that would have made it seem like incredibly poor timing for such a topic. I'm still going to run it at some point but I thought it was best to hold off for now.

So, with not much time to come up with something that isn't a top 5 list (those are mid-month only!), I'll just say this: as much as everyone in the community can tear into each other at times, it's good to see everyone pull it together when it matters. More directly, a fanbase that admittedly isn't what it used to be pulling together almost 6k in ~2 weeks is pretty awesome.

Full disclosure, I don't even know this girl that well. I'm pretty close with a lot of her friends though, so this has absolutely grabbed my attention. What's really incredible, though, is that I've seen people that I am friends with who literally don't know her at all throw in hundreds of dollars.

So, sorry for the short entry this time. I'll just leave you with this - please try to throw in a few bucks if you haven't. As always with these kind of things, there's a huge burst at the start but then things start to slow down after it's no longer top of mind. A donation a week from now is just as important as one made 5 minutes after the fund page went up.

Supporting Ashley Mitrikov - gofundme page


Headed outta town for non-Hanson related music this week. You'd better believe it's weird as hell to drive by a familiar venue and there being no Hanson show going on.

I'm not thrilled about the tour dates just released. We'll see what plans are, if any.

Back on 7/15.

The King Has Risen.


Blog title taken from Ramones - I Believe In Miracles
I used to be on an endless run
Believed in miracles 'cause I'm one.
I've been blessed with the power to survive
After all these years I'm still alive.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The 5 Most Significant Songs To Come From A Member Kit CD

There's a difference between terming something a "favorite" and/or "best" and terming it significant. There are certainly a few songs not listed here from member kit albums that rank as high or even higher that the tracks here. A pair of the songs listed below I'm not even a big fan of.

But these are the ones that shift expectations, stand out the most as unique, or just flat out represent the band at its best.

5 - Dance Like You Don't Care
Bizarre and out of place...and there's your appeal. Probably the epitome of the band realizing the disc is only going to be heard by the most dedicated fans, so they can do whatever they want. No idea if it's leading to anything or if it's just a random one-off, but it shows that we can still be surprised in 2015. This is the most off the path song we've had on a member kit so far.

4 - Panic In The Streets
Another track that would never show up on a standard album but seems to have become a fan favorite. Subject matter of a seemingly violent revolution isn't usually what you'd expect from this band. Very unique mood projected, there isn't really anything else like it in the Hanson arsenal.

3 - Down
The opening track on the very first fan club disc (we don't talk about the MOE Enhanced CD around these parts unless you want to discuss that first person shooter game that didn't have any actual guns that was on the disc) highlights everything the band does right when they are in slow-down mode. Some of the best lyrics the band has ever turned out don't hurt, either. This really felt like the track that bridged the very long gap between TTA and Underneath.

2 - Sonny Get Your Gun
2011's disc starts with a hell of a departure from what people were probably expecting. This was the first real evidence that convinced me that the band could probably go off and do some kind of concept album under a different name and manage to make it work. It feels like it could go to more places than it does, but a major part of the appeal is you're left wanting more.

1 - Rock N Roll Razorblade
Shortly after it was released on the original fan club disc it became a staple of the Acoustic 2003 tour. The first time I heard them play it in that format it wound up being the best song of the show. It was a high-tier Hanson song to begin with, but the fact that it has grown beyond the original studio version over the years (the version from the L&E album is an impressive evolution of the track) was what really impressed. There is a "focused frenzy" to the modern incarnation of this song that is not present in any other that they offer. It has gone from being track 2 on album that only the fan club members had to a pretty iconic live song for the band. Probably the best song to ever come off a fan club disc, and one of the best they have in their entire catalog.


No news at the moment, but thinking about some plans for this site (now that I've got that rad domain) but it's gonna take some time, so it'll be a while. Hopefully later this year things will get rolling.

Probably going to post something for the next entry that'll anger a few people (although guessing I'll get some agreement as well). May try to update on the 1st and 15th of the month from now on. promises on that.

The King Has Risen.


Monday, June 1, 2015

"Where We Belong" - Moments From H-Day 2015

On paper, this year's Hanson Day stuff looked to be a near carbon copy of last year's. I wasn't planning on attending. Last year was fun, but unlike last year which had some built-in hype based around the 10 year anniversary for Underneath and the curiosity around what the beer festival would turn out to be, this year seemed pretty by the numbers. I had a lot of things pop up in 2014 that seemed to assure there was no way I'd be making it this year - getting there last year was very difficult as well but now it was at another level.

I don't know how it happened, but by March it was suddenly not only possible but very simple to make it happen, so I did it. It turned out to be a good decision; I think overall it wound up being a better weekend than 2014's incarnation.

I'll do my best to describe why these events stood out for me. Heads up: not all of these are directly related to the music. This includes the great, the bad, the ugly. Why six? I dunno, because it's more than five.

Six things I'll take from 2015's Hanson Day events:

1) Bridges of Stone during the Isaac presentation. Like the Underneath presentation last year, Isaac brought out some TTA stuff so we could hear variations of it - different mixes, stuff that may have been changed or eliminated on the final album versions. At the conclusion, he played a final studio version of Bridges of Stone.

There are no illusions here - the vast majority of us have had the studio version of that song for around 10 years now. But for some reason, actually hearing someone in the band presenting that version of it inside a concert venue made it resonate. It resurrected memories of what was probably my "favorite time" being in and around this fanbase. The excitement over when a new TTA or Underneath demo or song would leak prior to official release and making sure all your friends had it. It's almost too easy now - just put something on Mediafire and throw a link on Facebook or whatever. Back then you kind of had to reach out to your friends one by one to make sure they got it, then transfer it to them over AIM or email it or whatever. Seeing friends I've had for well over a decade now - some of which are those same people I used to exchange tracks with - sitting a couple rows in front of me swaying back and forth during the "you can only wait..." part near the end ALMOST GOT ME ALL EMOTIONAL AND WHATNOT.

2) "Roller Coaster Love." This song works damn well in a live environment and felt like it should be part of the regular set rotation immediately. During the member's concert there appeared to be some issues with lyrics memorization, but when they played it again at the Hop Jam it came off much better, even in front of a large crowd that didn't know the song. Not bad for a track that was barely a blip on the radar for me previously.

3) Unexpected return of an old friend. Like I said, this wasn't all going to be directly Hanson related. I was a bit down that some of my friends I see (almost) every year didn't make the trip this year. As bad as that was, it was overshadowed by the coolest thing that's happened to me at a Hanson event since the TBG thing took off. The first "long distance" fan-friend I ever made ~13 years ago is someone I haven't seen in about 4 years, and I sure as heck didn't think I'd be seeing her anytime soon. Got an excited message on Facebook after I checked into a place in Tulsa on Thursday - "I had no idea you were going! I'll be there tomorrow!" Actually seeing her on Friday at Cain's before the presentations started was something I won't forget. ALMOST GOT ME ALL EMOTIONAL AND WHATNOT.

4) The next generation is in good hands.  For a lot of us this Hanson stuff has been going on for a long time. The group of people that made travelling from show to show and camping out in line overnight in the 2003 acoustic tour era a "thing" are now all around 30 years old (and I'm several years past THAT). This event was the first time I've been firmly entrenched in a group for a Hanson event since 2007.  I've gone to shows solo with very few exceptions. This year I was not only in a group, but a group where I'm older than everyone else by 12-15 years. I did my best to avoid coming off as the weird old guy and think for the most part did a decent job. I was asked a couple times by various people for advice on certain things (not important life stuff, but HANSON stuff, which I'm probably better at advice on anyway), and that made me feel useful. For a tired old grouch like me, it's really energizing to see people in their early 20's that are experienced enough at this stuff to not overreact to everything that happens, yet are not the least bit jaded and still genuinely excited for it.

I've gained a lot through them. "Kids" to watch over if things ever get out of hand, More importantly, valued friends. I've even had a long-standing hope finally become realized over the last year by getting to be friends with another GUY I can now hang out with at this stuff who *isn't* some weird/creepy dude. It's awesome. For any times I pick up the check at dinner or do some random nice thing for any of them, it's nothing compared to what this "Generation 2" has done for my attitude about these events. Whenever all my old friends and I finally disappear from this stuff, these people will keep it going. They're the best.

5) Hours and hours in line. Was hoping this would have been improved from last year. I was in line with two friends to go into the store - we weren't even that far back, maybe a few dozen people - and it took like 90 minutes to even get in the door. This is something fans definitely have to assist with as well, since some of them get in there and putz around indecisively for like 15 minutes, but there HAS to be a better way, even if it's moving the store to a slightly larger location with a couple more people on staff. Heck, open the attached garage area up and put the store in there. Not as glamorous but probably more efficient.

Registration wasn't exactly lightning fast either, although a little better than last year. Even one more person working registration would make a significant difference. Standing in the sun for that long ALMOST GOT ME ALL EMOTIONAL AND WHATNOT.

6) Another One Bites The Dust. Last year Hanson Prom (officially the "afterparty," but come on...HANSON PROM) was an incredibly fun event, with all three guys participating in blasting some tunes for the fan club members at Cain's shortly after the member's concert had concluded. Regardless of why you attended - you actually wanted to dance around, or you wanted to watch people, or you wanted to get fallin' down drunk (or all three) it was like 2 and a half hours of good times. This year's sequel was a total mess - and I probably loved it even more than last year's. Right out of the gate, during the member's concert the weather had taken a very violent turn, and within minutes of people exiting the concert, a tornado warning was issued. Sitting in a car with my friends, staring at people standing in line to get back in to Cain's during a torrential downpour was baffling. Eventually the doors opened and people started streaming in. As Taylor started off the music with "The Sign" by Ace of Base (ha!) and everyone was wringing the water out their hair and shirts, people began to bring him drinks. To his credit, from what I was told he didn't appear to refuse anything. On the other hand, this seemed to lead to the greatest trainwreck I've ever seen at any Hanson event. Describing it with words doesn't do it justice, so I'll just quickly summarize by saying by the last 30 minutes or so, we were getting "Another One Bites The Dust" played at an alarming rate. It would play, something else would play, then it would start up again, but joined already in progress. A couple other songs would play, then the John Deacon bassline would come up again...already in progress, and this time at the wrong tempo. I went outside with a friend for a couple minutes (the rain had finally stopped by then), only to hear Taylor say over the mic he'd see us all tomorrow...then said a few other things...then again that he'd see us all tomorrow. Then a few other things. Then that he'd see us all tomorrow. Here's a video of the evening's end. DJ Taylor Says Goodnight

Again - that was mighty nice of him to not refuse any of those drinks.

Yes, it stunk that it ended a lot earlier than the prior year's (probably only about 90 minutes total), but I wouldn't trade it. No one who was there will ever forget it. Can't wait to see what we get for Hanson Prom 2016.


That's it for entry one. Already have a couple of ideas for the next few, there is going to be a strong effort to make these shorter from here on out. Not sure of how frequently I'll post, but I'll do it when I can.

Each entry that's incident/life based rather than discussion/criticism-based is going have a non-Hanson song title in it which I'll link at the end of the post (using Hanson songs would be too easy). Each song will have some tie-in to the topic at hand, but don't feel obligated to dig that deeply into it or even listen to it - you have my personal guarantee these songs are all awesome.

The King Has Risen.


Blog title taken from Devin Townsend Project - Where We Belong
Soon we will belong
Summer's coming, now we're coming

Back where we belong