Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Day 3: A Hanson Tsunami


We're All Gonna Dye 

I can’t even remember what we did the morning of our officially-third-but-effectively-only-second day: most likely, a combination of eating, drinking, and maybe a brave dip in the pool. The first item on the day’s agenda was the dreaded Tie Dye and as my love for crafts has been well-documented in a previous post, what could possibly go wrong?

In my experience of previous BTTIs, the second session of any of the craft-type activities is usually the least disorganised, so this time we had orchestrated to register for the red pass, in the hope of a hiccup-free second session. The schedule change, however, meant that both sessions would to be running back-to-back. When we heard that our session would start thirty minutes later, and saw Hanson going in the opposite direction on board of a golf cart, I had the nagging feeling that double bluffing fate would not work in our favour. 



This year, at least, was the first time I could actually follow the tie-dye demonstration, which took place on a raised platform. We were at the table closest to the front, and when the demo was over, Isaac, who had just dyed a shirt in the colours of the Jamaican flag, came over to our table. Jackpot, I thought. 

They All Wanna Dye

Kelly and I complimented the Old Man for the show the night before, and then, in an idiotic tone I didn’t even recognise, I proceeded to tell him how I liked his work best and how I wanted to use the same colours, except, we didn’t have any green. The fact is, I liked the shirt he'd just dyed because of the Jamaican flag theme, but who’s going to believe that? By then, however, Isaac had already legged it all the way back to the stage to fetch me some green - probably grateful for the chance to get away from this moron. By the time he’d come back with a bottle of dye, I’d managed to find some - it was right in front of me, on the table.* 
(*I’m sorry but it looked blue).

“Ooops, sorry, we already had some, after all.” I said. I’d like to say that Isaac rolled his eyes but he was wearing shades. Let’s face it though: he probably did. He stuck around for a few moments, during which all my friends and the others at the table appeared to be struck by a sudden and debilitating form of mutism. Unsurprisingly, Isaac soon turned on his heels and left.

And that was it as far as “Hanson interaction” went:  soon, they were all swarmed by selfie hunters, who this year cranked it up several notches on the annoying scale by leaving their tables to follow the guys around, making it impossible for them to mingle. When Taylor tried to make his way to the front, the Hanson Gravitational Pull Phenomenon happened. For the uninitiated, the HGPP is when fans realise that a Hanson brother is on the move, and so they begin to magically glide towards him, very nonchalantly - or so they think - pretending to be just casually passing by. Very quickly, the Hanson Brother in question is surrounded with no way out, and only a miracle, or at a push, Rebecca, can save him.

That’s exactly what happened during tie dye, and by the time Taylor had extracted himself from the crowd, he was all but sprinting towards the paved walkway, ‘I’m done’ written all over his face. (Genetics have served Taylor Hanson well: not only does he have a great voice and a pretty face, but he has also very long legs that can get him away from fans quicker than you can utter the word ‘selfie’).

As I watched Taylor drift away like Wilson in “Castaway”, something inside me snapped: there was something I wanted to say to him, and considering how things had gone so far, who knows if I’d ever get another chance? I strode purposefully toward him, and after waiting for him to take yet another selfie with someone, I pounced.

Taylor!

“I’m not going to ask you for a photo,” I blurted. A flicker of surprise flitted on Taylor’s face, and I forged ahead.

“I just wanted to thank you for playing “World’s on Fire” last night. It meant a lot to me and my friend.” I carried on, knowing that Kelly was standing just a couple of feet away. As the expression on his face changed from auto-Hanson-selfie mode to something more genuine, Taylor explained the reason why that particular song doesn’t get played much: in a nutshell, and I paraphrase here, “World’s on Fire”  belongs to a certain period, which they have now moved on from. In turn, I politely objected and told him that fans love that song and that they should play it more often. Finally, I thanked him again and then let him gallop away from the circle of fans that was rapidly closing in around us. Mission accomplished.

I’ve had a handful of opportunities to interact with the band in my six years as a fan - nowhere near as many as some of the long-standing, super-duper hardcore fans I know. But I can say with absolute certainty that whenever I’ve spoken to one of the guys about their music, they have always reacted with a mixture of gratitude and surprise, as if they’re not quite the jaded musicians that you’d expect them to be after 20+ years in the business. I don’t think it’s an act: why else would you want to be an artist if not to connect with people over your music? And to me as a fan, that minute-long connection is worth a thousand photographs.

Talking to Taylor about my favourite Hanson song

Taylor Solo Set

Fast-forward a few hours, which I’m guessing were spent eating more bite-sized desserts at the buffet, and we were finally on the beach for Taylor’s solo set.

For anyone who was there at BTTI 2018, Taylor’s solo set will forever be etched into their memory as that time when Taylor took his socks and overshirt off and invited fans to join him for a dip in the ocean. A half-undressed Hanson brother with a deathwish and four hundred fans at different stages of inebriation: again, what could possibly go wrong? Rather predictably, a stampede ensued, and one cannot help but wonder if the tsunami warning that we got a couple of days later was the impact on the tectonic plates from a couple of hundred Hanson fans suddenly running into the water. 



It goes without saying that I did not run into the water, and for a number of valid reasons. Firstly, I didn’t want to lose my spot; secondly, I wasn’t dressed for it and didn’t fancy spending the rest of the show cold and wet. Last but not least, that stretch of beach is very rocky and a fan had already injured herself a couple of days before by taking a dip without water shoes. As I had survived the injury-inducing yoga class, I didn’t want to tempt fate again, not even to catch a glimpse of Taylor Hanson emerging from the water, weighted down by waterlogged clothes, like an all-American Neptune on a wet t-shirt contest.  

Taylor Neptune

Taylor’s aquatic antics aside, my one true favourite moment in the whole set was a rare performance of “These Walls”. The stripped down, acoustic version that is featured in the “Stand Up, Stand Up” EP was one of the first Hanson songs I ever fell in love with - together with “World’s on Fire” and “Carry You There”. Finally, some six years later, I was seeing it performed right in front of me. Other highlights of the set were “Believe”, “Be My Own” and the criminally neglected Anthem track “Cut Right Through Me” - which, however, would have sounded better with the rest of the band.

 

Taylor has a tendency to cut his solo sets shorts, and this year, due to his impromptu swim, was no exception. As I would would later find out, “Carry You There” had also been on his setlist, which means that I’d come incredibly close to completing my Holy Trinity of Hanson Songs I Wanted to Hear. On the other hand, I now have a good excuse for wanting to go back to the Island again next year.

Taylor Solo Setlist


Guest Artist Night - Stephen Kellogg

One of the problems with changes of schedule at BTTI is that it often leads to guests and Hanson having to play on the same night; out of four BTTIs I’ve been to, this has now happened three times, making it the rule rather than the exception. Guests and Hanson on the same night means that not only fans will camp out for Hanson, so no first 3-4 rows for the guests’ own fans, but also, that there’s no night off to chill out and enjoy some music without the pressure of having to be there at a certain time for the main show. 

Alas, BTTI 2018 was going to be one of those years again, with Stephen Kellogg playing his set just before Hanson. 

I’ve recently become a fan of ‘SK’ - as fans affectionately refer to him - and after seeing him twice in the UK last October, I was excited to see him play on a beach and in the company of the person who had got me into this music - Kelly. The set was really good fun, and although some of the songs he played might not have the immediacy that suited an unfamiliar audience, SK got a really warm response from the crowd. 

Afterwards, we went over to chat to him for a few minutes, and I asked him to sign a live CD that Kelly had given me as a belated Christmas gift. When I mentioned that I’d taken my husband to his Manchester gig, SK nodded. ‘Oh, your husband was that really cool guy, right?’. Suffice to say, he won even more fan points with me that night (and my husband will never admit to it but he’s secretly thrilled).


Chatting to SK was a stark reminder of how fan/band interaction can be when fans act like normal people in the presence of normal people. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will ever happen with Hanson fans, and ultimately, we, the fans, are the ones who lose out.

My signed Stephen Kellogg CD
The Main Show - Members night

The Members Only songs concert is really one of my main reasons for going to BTTI, as Hanson tend to stick to familiar album releases when they play normal shows - especially in Europe.

This year’s set was a good mix of new and old, incorporating tracks from their most recent EPs - “Somebody That Wants to Love You”, “Ghostwriter”, “No Rest for the Weary”, regular BTTI favourites like “Best of Times” and “White Collar Crime”, with the inclusion some rare treats such as “What’s Your Name” (an Isaac lead I had not yet heard live) and “Coming Back for More”, during which SK, who had co-written the song, joined Hanson on stage for an unforgettable sing-along.



A regular feature of BTTI sets is the made-up-on-the-spot song, and this year we got treated to “I’m Gonna Play The Chords Wrong” which preceded “On the Road”; those moments are always a lot of fun and show Hanson as their most comfortable and relaxed - a side they are clearly only happy to show to a small audience of people who, let’s face it, are never going to boo them offstage.




The show ended with a pretty epic rendition of “I Don’t Want To Go Home” from the “In Color” EP. We all knew that that song was going to become a new BTTI anthem, although maybe it would have been more fitting on the final night. As I sang along with Zac - “all my friends are here, I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go home”, it thought of how strange this BTTI 2018 felt - how everything was just a little out of sync.

Members Show Setlist

Family Feud

Just like Cards Against Humanity the day before, Family Feud took place in the buffet; but this time we’d got there earlier and bagged a relatively decent spot by the side of the stage. I was tired and a little bored, and once the game started, I quickly got distracted by checking my social media. I knew my number wouldn’t get called, so there was no need to really pay attention. Or so I thought.

Because at one point I became vaguely aware of Isaac’s calling numbers in reverse order - 136, 135, 134…. something registered in my mind that the next number would be mine...133 … oh no. Oh no no no. No. My number? That’s not how it usually works. I willed myself to get up and walked toward the stage feeling like someone who is having an out-of-body experience on their way to the gallows. Would I make a total fool of myself in front of my favourite Hanson brother?

I took a seat at the front, and swept my gaze around the room while I waited for the other players to make their way to the stage. To my left was my table, with Howra, Kelly and Ingela grinning at me, phones raised to capture the moment. Somewhere in the centre, semi-disguised behind a pillar was Kasey, sticking a thumb up in encouragement. And right at the back was Suze, waving maniacally like an over excited parent a her child's school play. I laughed, and soon the nerves were gone. 

Playing Family Feud with Isaac Hanson

(For posterity: the question was ‘what does a man do when he starts losing his hair’ and my answer was ‘he shaves his head’. I did not win any points but Isaac said he agreed with me, not with the game. Win).

And so, after a day packed with a lot of music and a hefty dose of fan madness, another day was over, despite the fact that BTTI had only really just got going.

Stay tuned for Part 4.

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