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Back to the Island 2018

This years Back to the Island was an interesting one. As Stephen Kellogg told me, I had to fight for it. And I really did.  I’m going to try to sum it all up in one post but if things get too wordy I’ll break it up a bit.

I was scheduled to fly out on Friday, a day before the activities began. A huge storm was coming in and earlier in the week they didn’t think it would be that bad, but by Wednesday snow totals kept creeping up and up and up.  Starting at a dusting to 3 inches when all was said and done I think they were saying we could get upwards of a foot (and I think that’s what we did end up getting).  Wednesday when I was at work, Southwest emailed me to let me know that my 5:45am flight out of Hartford was already canceled and calling them to reschedule they told me the earliest they could get me out to Jamaica was SUNDAY.  I canceled that flight all together and ended up booking a flight on American Airlines that would get me out at 8am and put me on the same flight to Jamaica with a friend (and later a second friend as well who also had gotten bumped due to the bombcyclone)  But by mid-day Thursday that flight was canceled so I was put on a 10am flight out of Hartford and a later flight into Jamaica.  I went to bed early and everything was still “On Time” – having no clue how the roads were going to look I left at 4:30am and got to the airport and my gate by 6am and we were supposed to start boarding at 9:30am to leave at 10.  Boarding was delayed and when we got on there seemed to be some drama because a couple had a dog on the flight with them but the paperwork didn’t say there would be a dog on the flight.  It turned out that dealing with this was the least of my worries.  My flight to Jamaica was delayed by an hour which was great because that gave me even more of a buffer as we still needed to de-ice which would add probably 30 minutes to our time.  But then we pulled away from the jet bridge only to return to it 5 minutes later – some valve that was needed for the engines to start was frozen shut and maintenance would have to manually open it. Then that didn’t work either and then we all had to get off the plane and well… there was no way we were leaving in time for me to get to Jamaica on Friday at that point.  I re-booked a flight out of Charlotte for Saturday morning, hoping that I would at some point end up in Charlotte on Friday night.  And I did – after being one of the lucky people on only one of FOUR flights out of Bradley that morning/afternoon that had this weird frozen valve issue.  (I guess it being so rare explained why no one started to heat up the plane at 6am when it was sitting at the gate with me, both of us doing nothing)

So Saturday morning I once again woke up around 4am having no idea how long security lines would be in Charlotte and once again spent far too much time doing nothing at a gate at the airport but we were off to Jamaica without incident.  Upon landing in Jamaica it was absolutely POURING rain and when I finally met up with my friends they told me I had missed nothing because they all just sat around hiding from the rain and waiting for me to show up.  Everything at the resort was super slippery and then we found out that Hanson had decided to shift the schedule and postpone the first nights show both due to the weather and maybe a little bit because so many people were still not there yet.  We walked the beach a bit and ended up having a group meal in the steakhouse as our room level waived the fee for the prime cuts.  Afterwards the resort had activities going on so we got to see some swimmers and dancers and by “got to see” I mean we really got to see as I spotted one of them in plain site naked and changing… and then a steel drum band in 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes.  During the steel drum band Zac showed up and then we spotted Isaac at the karaoke bar and Taylor in the club.  It became a full on selfie fest and we just kind of sat back, drank, and watched it all go down, none of us getting any photos with any Hansons. (In fact of the 7-8 of us hanging out all week I was the only one to land a photo with a Hanson… more on that later.)

The next day winds still seemed to be too much to raise the roof on the stage and it was raining on and off so plan B went into effect – where we would have Zac’s solo show, Chris Carraba’s set and the “Rock All Night” set from Hanson in a green house.  I was lucky enough to be front row for all of it – and was thrilled when Zac awarded our “good behavior” with a song that had never been performed live before for us.  (As you know, my main goal for these trips is to hear songs I have never heard before, though the released songs that I have not heard are getting fewer and fewer.)  Afterwards we saw him and asked him what it was called and he just rubbed his fingers together and said “Haha” but we ended up finding a post on Hanson.net where we saw it was either called Fight Another Day or The Ballad of Seymour Better Times.  It’s currently the latter in the Hansonstage.com database but can be changed at any moment if needed.

I really was not sure what to expect as far as Chris Carabba.  He had come to my college one year and I made it to front row to see him but was just not impressed with him at all and we left early.  And talk about a full circle moment – that show was at my college with a friend I had met on Hanson.net to see Chris Carabba and while we were waiting to go inside she told me “You should come with us next time we go see Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers I think you will like him” and now here I was on an Island with Hanson, Chris and Stephen. Crazy. But I absolutely LOVED Chris and he was so adorable with how he was so excited that people were singing his songs back to him and asking for him to play certain songs and just generally enjoying his set.  I also liked when he said that he had only known 2 of the members of Hanson but today he met Zac and now Zac was his favorite Hanson (and then went on to mention both Isaac and Taylor were also his favorite Hanson’s)  I snapped a pic of Chris’ setlist, but he ended up mixing it up a bit so I can’t say for sure what all he did end up playing.

Then it was time for Hanson’s Rock All Night set.  The stage was awkwardly tiny but if that was potentially going to be my only front row experience of the trip, it was a great one to be right up front for.  I was able to see the setlist before the show started and was flipping out for “I Believe in A Thing Called Love” (which didn’t end up happening) and “You Shook Me All Night Long” (A never before done cover!) on the setlist as well as a few other fun rare songs mixed in as well. (One Taylor said they had not played in 5 years but I don’t know where he got his info from because hansonstage says otherwise! :P)  This set was a bit shorter than what we are used to and 3 songs on the setlist ended up being skipped but the guys did have Chris join them for Back to the Island which has become a staple of the event.

After the concert it was time for Cards Against Humanity with Zac, which was squeezed into the buffet area due to the weather and was overall just a really awkward set up.  We kept a penis tally because before the game got underway it seemed like it was going to be said a LOT…but the official tally was only 5 by the end of the night.  A fan had given Zac some Hanson-related cards for the game and I think that really brought things to a whole other level when you could play “Zac Hanson”, “Isaac Hanson” or “Taylor Hanson” as a response in addition to the cards that came with the game.  I was on the red team but it was the green team that was victorious.

The next morning we had tie dye with all 3 Hanson’s and I’m not all that impressed with my design for this year. There was a lot of white. I opted to not wet my tshirt before dying it because I was convinced that made things run too much but maybe I needed a bit of a happy medium instead.  A slightly damp tshirt.  I also was hoping for a blue and orange shirt and somehow ended up with yellow and then went with purple instead so my Mets shirt has instead become a Vikings shirt lol  The guys tend to mingle during this event but never really made it to our table (and when Zac did come by he was looking for blue dye which we did not have so he was innocently sent away to find it elsewhere never to return again)  One of the Island Gigs guys asked if we saw any Hansons and I said no, only to have him ask me which I wanted a photo with so I chose Zac and he took me over to him for a very awkward photo.  Zac seemed like he was over things at that point and the guys left shortly after.  We kept our shirts wrapped up for a couple days and I didn’t end up taking the rubber bands off until I was home this year – but I am not sure that helped much. We will see once it makes its way through a vinegar wash and the washing machine. (Which I may not get to for a while)

Then it was time for Taylor’s solo set.  Since the stage was roughly 40 paces from our back door, we opted to watch it all from our back porch.  Taylor came out, played a song, then took his shirt off (revealing a tank top underneath) and took off his shoes and socks and invited anyone who wanted to go in the water with him to go in. Then he played the rest of his set soaking wet.  His set didn’t have anything I hadn’t heard on it – however there was “Dream Girl” on his setlist that he had skipped which would have been a tick for me in the win column.  The rest of his set was a nice variety though and I enjoyed it.

Stephen Kellogg’s set was up next,  and we got a chance to talk with him a bit before it. He didn’t end up playing the song I had been requesting for him to play since last February, but he did end up adding in a last minute request for “Father’s Day” which had me crying.  I think that he won the crowd over as well and he did a pretty well-rounded set as well to give anyone who hadn’t heard of him before a good variety of what he’s all about.

Then it was time for the Members Only setlist. I was glad to not be up that close for this set because I never know all the words to these songs!  Each of the guys did a solo during this set and then Stephen Kellogg joined them for a song he wrote with them called Coming Back for More.  There was some debate over whether or not Isaac’s solo song was Members Only (Zac and I say no, Isaac says yes) but the one that was so clearly not a members only song was A Minute Without You which they played for the encore. Why? I don’t know.

After the shows was Isaac’s Family Feud activity which was also in the buffet and a lot of people did not stick around which was evidenced by the time it took for him to call out numbers of people who were actually present to end up on stage. (There’s got to be a better way to do that)  I am pretty sure all my friends who wanted to go on stage made it up for a round – but the funniest had to be when Rachel buzzed in to answer “What would you not want to happen to your taxi when you are on your way to the airport” with “Get lost!” and Isaac took offense thinking she was telling him to get lost… not that she was saying she didn’t want the taxi to get lost.  After 10 rounds it was tied 5-5 red vs green and it was RED that was victorious in the tie breaker round. A nice split amongst the teams.

Our last full day on the Island kicked off with group photos with the band where I told the guys a bit about all the snow we got and how my flights got delayed or canceled like 5 times.  Isaac did his solo set which consisted of a song that had lyrics down on the stage that he had written just a few weeks prior and a surprise song that he wrote on the spot during his set. I’m calling it “Isaac’s Jamaica Song” on Hansonstage at least until someone can convince me to name it something better.  He chatted a bunch due to needing to tune his guitar and said how singing happy birthday and the like is a stalling tactic (and then it was made clear that night during the full band set how often Hanson uses this tactic lol)  He had a really nice set as well and is pretty consistently my favorite solo set of of the 3.

 

The last show of the trip was “Singles” but it was expanded a bit to include songs that almost were singles or should have been singles just to more round out the set.  Of course, we thought we were all safe because With You In Your Dreams did not fit into any of the themes – but apparently they decided to consider it a single.  I once again found myself front row for this set and decided I could either sob the whole song or try to zone out and play on my phone and/or take photos.  I was victim of symbol face Zac for most of this show and during the beginning of the song he was leaning down so I could see him so zone out and take photos of Zac won and I managed to not cry. Phew.  The encore consisted of the only repeats of the trip – Back to the Island and You Shook Me All Night Long and they also actually did I Believe In A Thing Called Love this show as well.

During the last 2 nights on the beach – baby turtles started hatching and making their way to the water. I didn’t get to see any turtles in person (and being at a turtle hatching/release is for sure on my bucket list but I never thought I’d see it in Jamaica since it was not the reason for it!) but it sounded like they were able to make sure quite a few got to the water and hopefully they are doing all right out there!  Hanson dedicated I Was Born and renamed it for the evening The Ballad of the Baby Turtles.  (Don’t underestimate the sting of the baby turtle!)

After the show it was the after party – and there were even some dancers for some of the songs! (like one of my favorites, Pony) Where we were alerted via social media that there was an earthquake in Honduras which was putting some of Jamaica under a tsunami warning.  No one seemed concerned but now I have attended Taylor’s after party in both a tornado and a tsunami warning.

There were a lot of “wild life” encounters – I fell after being chased by a cockroach (which got my heart rate up to 119 as opposed to the 95 it seemed to max out at during any of the Hanson shows), there was a GIANT grasshopper in our bed, there was a lizard on the ceiling, there was a tiny lizard on our back porch, I found some weird looking bugs and caterpillars, I also spotted a hermit crab. Snails. A pig… cats.. goats… I’m not sure what else I am forgetting.

Wednesday we got up and had breakfast, checked out of the hotel, hit up the gift shops and made our way to our shuttle back to the airport 🙁  Security is always a pain in the butt and this time they wanted me to walk through the metal detector with no shoes on and using no cane.  Once it was explained that this was not going to end well for anyone involved I compromised to take my shoes off if I could use the cane – and needed a pat down anyway so the whole activity was pretty pointless.  I did however have a lot of fun people watching an entitled woman who needed wheelchair assistance think that she should be the first on the plane because she was the first to the gate (She was second to last, I was last of the preboarders. We both ended up in the 2nd row of the plane so what’s the big deal?)

This trip was by far a lot different than any of the previous 5 – and I took the least photos I have probably ever taken in my life (Hanson photos not included) mainly because my camera was always in my bag and I spent most of my time walking around trying to make sure I wasn’t going to slip and fall on wet decorative tile.  I enjoyed the new resort and wouldn’t mind seeing it being held there again for 2019 but I think that the Jewel where it was last year was probably my favorite of all the resorts.

Category: Back To The Island, Concert, Hanson  Comments off

Back To The Island 2017: Activities

Ahh, the Back to the Island activities.  Almost until it was time to leave we weren’t sure what all the activities would be.  We knew that all 3 would be doing Tie Dye in an event appropriately titled, “We’re All Gonna Die” and that Taylor would be DJing the After Party.  For Zac and Isaac all we knew was that they would be hosting “Island Games” but what those games were, were a mystery up until December.

Thursday night Zac hosted Cards Against Humanity.  All of our passes were numbered and Zac called up 5 members on the red team and 5 members of the green team up on stage to participate in 2 rounds of cards.  He said it would go on for as long as we all seemed to still be having fun with it.  Zac with the help of the crowd was the judge and the winning team color would get a pin on hanson.net as their prize.  I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, but it actually was pretty fun and Zac later admitted he removed all the cards from the deck that he didn’t want to read out loud.  A few of my friends made it up on stage too which was fun! Green team won!

Tie Dye was split into two groups with the Red passes going on Thursday and the Green passes going on Friday.  I was a green pass.  When we arrived to the beach for tie dye it started to rain, which certainly made things a little bit difficult and I am sure added some water to the dye as well.  I opted to just tie dye a shirt that I brought with me and not the event t-shirt, so naturally I made what was probably my best shirt yet.  I guess all those years of practice have finally sunk in.  I squeezed out as much excess dye as I could and laid it flat to dry.  Of course a local bird decided that I was getting too much praise for said shirt and didn’t want it to go to my head so he pooped on my shirt and stained it. Fortunately it’s down the bottom of the shirt and not totally noticeable, but how rude! Tie Dye did turn into a selfie circle and we managed to get a photo with Taylor and followed Zac around for way, way too long because we wanted to talk to him about something he had mentioned the night before with no luck.

Friday night Isaac hosted Family Feud.  My pass was called in the first round so I thought I was slick and swapped passes with Maribeth because I really didn’t want to go on stage.  Of course, he called Maribeth’s number for round 2 so I was up there for round 2 and 3 and he even picked me for the head to head for Round 3 which I buzzed in on first AND got the number 1 answer. (Not that it really mattered because Isaac made up his own rules and the other team didn’t get a chance to steal or choose to pass/play)  We won that round mostly in part to Isaac saying that my answer of “shoes” counted as “clothes”.  So I guess even though I “complain” that Isaac didn’t stick to the rules – it kind of worked in my favor.  The game lasted for about 2 hours and we only did 10 rounds – but the green team won again – although there may have been a little bias going on because green is Isaac’s favorite color 😉

Saturday night was the After Party – we didn’t end up showing up until it was almost over, but in the half an hour we were there he played Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” 2x and also said goodbye like 5 times but then kept playing another song.  It seemed to go much, much longer than last year’s party but I think that one got purposely cut short because people kept making their way on to the stage.

I definitely liked the new additions of events, since I sucked at trivia last year! Although bracelet making was fun.

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Back to the Island 2017

Earlier this month I headed back to Jamaica for the 4th time for my 5th Back to the Island event with Hanson. (1 year was in Cancun, Mexico).  This year it was at the same resort as last year, which I really liked as far as the resort but didn’t really like as far as the food.  That seemed to still be an issue this year but I think what I didn’t eat in “regular” food, I made up for in desserts!

This post will focus on the concerts – of which there were 5. Or 7. Depending on how you count.  Early last year we voted for the themes we wanted for each of the Hanson shows to have and we never found out what won until that night.  I liked the surprise of trying to figure it out before they announced it, but had to show up prepared for it to be a Christmas show and ready to change into my Christmas Hanson shirt at any time.  Fortunately that was the only theme you could really “dress” for, unfortunately it never ended up winning.  So we had 3 full-band Hanson shows, 1 solo show from each Hanson (which I could as 1 Hanson show because Isaac + Taylor + Zac = Hanson, of course) and then 1 show from special guests Andrew Ripp and John Fullbright.

Night 1 – Rock All Night  (Setlist)

This was the kick off show and I was exhausted by the time we got to it. I don’t think I had ever wanted a Hanson show to be over so badly before, which is so out of character for me but I needed to get some sleep! They kicked the show off with the chorus of Back to the Island acapella and welcomed us all back to the Island (although there were a LOT of first timers there based on the screams whenever they asked!)  I liked that this was a rocking set and it really kicked things off.  The setlist had some rarer songs in it as well which I liked and I loved the throwback to Ever Lonely which they had done every night on their first tour in 1998 but much, much, much less more recently.   I was on the right side of the stage for this show (Taylor’s side) as opposed to in the handicapped area on the other side because no one ever brought chairs there!  I couldn’t see Zac unless I squatted down and looked through Taylor’s keyboards and kept saying I just wanted a “small fix” of Zac, so when they finished off the set with Zac coming up front for I Believe in a Thing Called Love I was very happy 🙂  That is, until he told my friend he couldn’t give her drumsticks because he only had 2 pair and then walked off stage only to give the drumsticks to someone else instead.  I’m sure there was a logical explanation, but it rubbed me the wrong way.  (Also pretty impressive was that they did not have any in-ear monitors so they had to turn the speakers in on them and Zac mentioned he couldn’t hear much at all, but they still managed to put on a great show!)

Isaac’s solo show (Setlist)

Last year, Isaac was very late for his solo set and made it a request hour which a lot of people didn’t like. (I liked the idea of it, even though he didn’t play anything I shouted out at him)  This year, Isaac was relatively on time and was very prepared for his set.  He also told us a little bit of the back story with a few of the songs he played, which I always really like hearing. He once again did “A Life Without You” which has only ever been played at the solo shows at BTTI. I also got 4 new songs out of him – Beautiful Eyes – which he explained was about dying during child birth which I never actually realized listening to it before and he had played back in 2000 a few times but not at any of the shows I was at and then he did 3 songs that had never been done before – David Garza’s Too Much as well as Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (which I do feel is covered WAY too much but I let that slide) mixed in with Amazing Grace.  Could Isaac have won the solo show for the year again?  Yeah, I think he did.  Most of the time Isaac’s set ends up my favorite.

Night 2 – Acoustic (Setlist)

When we sat down and saw that the stage was set up for an acoustic set I had 2 feelings.  The first was “Yay! I should be able to see Zac tonight because he will be up front!” and the 2nd was “Oh crap I think they may play With You In Your Dreams”  My Dad passed away 2 months before and I knew my first time hearing it was going to make me cry.  Throughout the set I kept counting how many songs they did and knew that the show was almost over and THOUGHT we were in the clear – but they stuck it in as the last song.  Good thing it was last because I was such a mess during the song I’m not sure I would have been able to make it through the rest of the set.  Instead I had some time to regroup before Cards Against Humanity with Zac started.  There was nothing too remarkable about this setlist – acoustic was not one of my choices for the sets but I mean, any Hanson show is better than being anywhere else and any Hanson show on the beach is better than any other Hanson show. (Maybe.)

Taylor solo (Setlist)

The 2nd solo show was from Taylor. Taylor always has more songs to choose from than the other two since he sings lead on the most songs.  Before he started his 3rd song he talked about how it had almost been a single from Underneath and then didn’t end up making the album and something about it having “Bubblicious” in the lyrics.  There is one song from the 2003 era that I had NEVER before heard live.  In fact it’s part of the reason I started keeping track of how many times I had heard songs live and perhaps is the reason I now run a site that calculates that for everyone (hansonstage) and this was the song that Taylor was about to play. The song that I posted about on Hanson.net every time there is a “what do you hope they play?” thread.  I honestly do not know what to do with myself now that it has a “1” on my list.  What song do I obsess over now? I feel like that was the ultimate achievement.  Then 5 songs later he did it again – with another song that probably would have been my next obsession – another song from the same era that they had only ever really teased in concert before (and only a couple of times, at that) – Breaktown.  I didn’t even get video from the beginning because it took me so long to process what was really happening in front of me when he started it.  Taylor also did a couple of songs solo that I thought were a little bit weird – You Never Know was weird in a GOOD way with him solo and Get The Girl Back was weird in a.. not so good way with just him doing it solo.  Taylor also did a ridiculous set of 15 songs.  I kind of thought it never was going to end and I think I would have been ok with that.

Special Guests Set

I was very excited for Andrew Ripp to be a guest at this BTTI.  I had seen him previously open for David Cook and chatted with him about Hanson after his set and I knew that he would be a fun time and was a lot of fun on stage and had a great voice.  I didn’t realize how awesome he would be throwing a setlist together on the spot while I laid in a beach chair looking up at the stars with the waves crashing behind me.  It was perfect!  Of course, then I got sick and after 1 of John Fullbright’s songs I ended up having to leave and missed the rest of his set.  He didn’t really grab me with his song and I could hear some of it from the room, at least.  But it seemed like Andrew Ripp won a LOT of people over and I hope he is in consideration to be an opening act on a future Hanson tour because even though he’s just a guy with a guitar he has ENERGY which is what so many of their openers seem to be lacking.

Zac solo set (Setlist)

Zac’s solo set was probably my least favorite set. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, but I did have trouble getting in to it because a lot of the songs were about loss so I was just struggling with keeping it together for his set.  I did like that he told some background stories about the songs and what they were about because a lot of times they are so vague about those things.  He also did Juliet and Do You Believe In Love which are a couple of my favorite Zac leads, but even that couldn’t really redeem things for me.  He also didn’t give me any never before heard songs.  Sad face.  He is getting better and better at being on stage alone, I think though.  There’s definitely been an improvement since his first solo set back in 2014.

Final show – Members Only (Setlist)

The last time they did a members only themed setlist was 2014 and I think that if you ask anyone who was there they will say it was one of their favorite Hanson shows ever, if not THE best.  I am not sure that it will ever be topped, but they did try with the setlist they put together for the final night.  A lot of the Members Only songs have never been played live before, but unfortunately only one such song made it into this setlist (Freak Out) and everything else I had heard.  They did end up doing I believe all from the “Sound of Light” EP which is probably one of my favorites of their members only EPs.  The show started out with no lights on the front of the stage being on – which was strange.  Then they were completely in the dark before the 3rd song so we turned our cell phone lights on them until things were fixed.  That was weird and I wasn’t sure why they had them go onstage if the lights were an issue, but I guess they had to somewhat keep things on time.  Feeling Alive on the beach was amazing – I love that song so much in general but just putting it in the beach setting brought it to a whole other level.  They seemed to be having trouble starting out with Roller Coaster Love and I’m not sure Isaac wanted to play it or remembered how to play it but they worked it out.  They finished the encore out with some album songs (singles) that hadn’t found their way into other sets.  We did see they skipped “Ive Got Soul” from the setlist, but no great loss there.  For the finale they brought up Andrew and John to sing Back to the Island and Andrew even did a rap (the lyrics were on the stage in front of him but either way, totally impressive) and then our 5th year at BTTI was over and only Taylor’s after party was left before we’d all have to head back to the real world.

 

I thought that this year had some really solid setlists and some really good performances.  Things seemed a bit more polished than last year and I am ready to fork over all my money for year 6.

 

 

 

Back to the Island 2017

I am back home from my 5th Back to the Island.  More in depth reviews and posts with pictures come probably next week but I figured I’d give a brief recap!

  • The themes for the shows were “Rock All Night” “Acoustic” and “Members Only”
  • I got 7 new songs added to my list – 4 from Isaac’s solo show, 2 from Taylor’s solo show and 1 from the Members Only set
  • Of the 7 new songs – one was the one I have been waiting to hear since 2003!!!!
  • (Now I’m not sure which new song I’ve never heard to obsess over)
  • We rode a paddle boat and I’m pretty sure the life guard thought we were never going to come back if we went beyond the cove
  • Both Maribeth and I ended up on stage for Isaac’s activity of Family Feud.
  • Hanson only repeated 1 song and since it was “Back to the Island” so I decided it counts as no repeats (acapella chorus night 1, full song the last night)
  • Andrew Ripp was amazing, as expected, and I think everyone wants him to open for Hanson’s next tour too
  • Although we went on 3 separate hermit crab hunts we never found one, though we did find 2 “real” crabs and snails
  • There was a cockroach or something similar in the bathroom one night
  • A bird pooped on my tie dye
  • Isaac did 3 songs in his solo set I didn’t even have in the hansonstage database!
  • The ribs on the last night were my favorite thing I ate ever.
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So You Want To Go To BTTI?

SoYouWantToGoToBTTI

With 2017’s Back To The Island announced, I figured I should put something together like I did for MOE.

Back To The Island is a 5 day, 4 night event in Runaway Bay, Jamaica and Jewel Paradise Cove.  2017 will be the second year the event is held at this resort.  In order to go, you must be a Hanson.net member.  If you are not yet, join now!  (Your membership needs to be valid through the trip dates so if you join now you’ll be set.)

When Should I Come?

Definitely as early as you can on the 4th if you can’t add extra days.  If you can add an extra day before the event you’ll be golden, but it is not required.  The first day the only activity is checking in to get your group assignment and merch and then the Hanson concert that night (assume a 9 or 10pm start time)

How Long Does It Take To Get To The Resort?

I’d budget at least 3 hours from the time you land to get through customs, immigration and get your shuttle to the resort.  I personally like to land around noon – 1pm if I can.

What Airport Do I Fly To?

Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) is the only airport that has the provided shuttles to the resort. The shuttle ride is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Can I Come Early And Stay At A Different Resort?

Yes, but you will have to figure out how to get from that resort to Jewel Paradise Cove for the event, as Island Gigs will only take care of shuttles upon arrival at MBJ. (If anyone who did this in 2016 can comment with how you worked it out, it would be appreciated)

When Should I Leave?

Keep in mind the last night that Taylor’s after party will probably go until 2am, give or take.  Shuttles to the airport leave roughly 4 hours before your flight (I had a 1:10pm flight and was on an 8:50am shuttle – shuttles seem to leave every hour).  If you can’t add an extra day on at the end, try to book your flight as late as you can if you don’t want an early wake up call.  Or book an early flight and leave right after the after party!

What Are The Add On Activities and How Much Are They?

Island Gigs generally schedules 2 excursions for each trip, but does not announce them until much closer to the trip dates (December).  This year it was a tour of Nine Mile – Bob Marley’s birth and resting place as well as a trip to Dunn’s River Falls to climb water falls.  The past couple of years we were only able to choose 1 of the excursions due to scheduling conflicts if not.  The excursions were $50-$60.  The hotel also offered booking for excursions as well which you might want to look into if you add extra days. [Edit: it looks like these can be booked when booking your trip for 2017]

What Are the Concerts Like?

There will be 3 Hanson concerts, on the first night, the second night and the last night.  These are full sets and voting for themes will be happening in March.  Each Hanson will also do a solo set of about 45 minutes.  The second to last night will be the special guests concert.

How Do Group Assignments Work?

Red or Green passes are handed out when you check in with Island Gigs and pick up your merch package.  Typically all of one color is given out first then the second color.  In instances when excursions interfere with group activities you will be placed in a group that will not cause interference. If you want to be in the same group as your friends, try to check in at the same time.  Island Gigs typically does not allow you to change colors, however if you can organize it on your own amongst other fans you can switch.

What Does the Schedule Typically Look Like?

For an idea, this was the 2016 schedule:

January 5th
10pm Hanson Concert

January 6th
11am – Bracelets with Zac (Green) / Tie Dye With Taylor (Red)
3pm – Trivia with Isaac (Red)
5:30pm – Zac Solo Concert
10pm – Hanson concert

January 7
11am – Bracelets with Zac (Red) / Tie Dye with Taylor (Green)
3pm – Trivia with Isaac (Green)
5:30pm – Taylor Solo Concert
10pm – Special Guests concert

January 8
8:30am – leave for excursions
1:30pm – Photos with Hanson
5:30pm – Isaac solo concert
10pm – Hanson concert
12:00am – After party with Taylor

How Is The Weather?

Typically in the mid-80s.  It did get a lot cooler during the thunderstorm this year, obviously.  But for the most part, hot and humid.

Is There Anything Special I should Bring?

Sunscreen. Bug spray.  If you don’t want to tie dye your event t-shirt, something 100% cotton to tie dye.  Money for souvenirs and tipping (not required, but if you have an awesome staff member, and you will, it might be nice)  There is a small gift shop at the resort with clothing, postcards, trinkets, etc. Be sure to let your credit or debit card bank know you will be in Jamaica along with the dates so that your card is not declined.

I also recommend that you bring a pair of shorts in your carry on if you want to change when you land at the airport.  The shuttles this year did have A/C though.  If checking a bag, you might want to toss a couple days worth of clothes in your carry on as well in case luggage gets lost.

Make sure to have your passport and a blue or black ink pen handy on the plane to fill out your customs forms.

How Do Island Gigs Payments Work?

When booking there is an $800 down payment.  If you have a roommate it will be a $400/$400 split.  If you do not have a roommate at the time of booking you will be responsible for the $800 down payment.  Once you add a roommate you can have the $800 credited to your portion of the room.  (If you do not yet have the name of a roommate choose the single booking and Island Gigs can change it to a double once you have a roomies name)
There are 2 payment plans – one is $400 at booking / $500 in July and the balance by October 1-per person.
I do the monthly, it begins April 1 and runs until October 1 and divides into even monthly payments of the balance due after the deposit is made.
You can log into your account and pay more money down on the booking outside of the payments if you want.

What Are The Rooms Like?

Most of the rooms have 1 king bed.  Some rooms do have 2 twins and they will try to accommodate as many requests as they can.  The closets are pretty big. All rooms have a hair dryer.  The outlets are just like the US outlets. Some rooms have showers and some rooms have tubs.  If you go to Trip Advisor you can read from people who have visited before as well as look through their galleries as well.

What information of my roommates do I need in order to book?

Their legal first and last names. Their email address (that matches their Island Gigs account, if they have one) their Hanson.net name (You cannot get past the page without entering this, so it is important that you know it!)  Their address and phone number (which should populate if they have an Island Gigs account and you entered their email address – but make sure you have it just in case).  It also asks for their birthday, but there is a box to check if you don’t know it.  It will prompt you to enter their credit card information as well, but it seems if they log in the same day to pay their down payment it should not be a problem.  If you’d rather the peace of mind by booking for both of you at the same time you need their credit card number, expiration date and the 3 digit code from the back of the card.

 

If there are any other questions – leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer!

BTTI 16: Traveling Home

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This was probably one of the more eventful trips home. While I didn’t have weather to worry about, my shuttle to the airport was leaving at 8:50am and I didn’t get in bed until about 3am.  I got to the lobby a little after 8 to check out and wait for the shuttle.  They were taking our luggage on a box truck and we took 2 buses to the airport.

Getting through security, I couldn’t take my shoes off and usually they do not make me, but they made me go sit down and then walk back to pass my shoes through.  Walking barefoot with all my stuff plus my shoes was a bit of a challenge, but I survived!

Once I got to my gate, I found Auntie Ann’s Pretzels and grabbed something to eat since I was not sure when I would be able to eat again.  Hearing any announcements was difficult as well.  It turned out our flight was delayed by 30 minutes.  The flight was also supposed to be full, but amazingly no one ended up sitting in the middle seat next to me – again!

When I landed at Baltimore, the flight attendant helped me get my stuff to the wheelchair and told the attendant “take good care of her” and it was all downhill from there.  The attendant was pushing my wheelchair as well as another woman’s.  This woman was with her daughter and they had to pick up luggage and were done.  I didn’t have luggage and still had another flight.  At this point it was about 5:30 and I was due to take off at 6:15.  The guy left me where you drop off your bags for the connecting flight and promised that I would make my flight but that he was going to help the other woman first because she didn’t have another flight.

When it started creeping closer and closer to 6, the girls in the baggage area started looking for the guy. With no sign of him, someone else grabbed me and got me to the gate with little time to spare.  There also turned out to be a sorority on my flight that had to check their bags so they ended up holding the flight and I still got a window seat despite not preboarding but I was very nervous that I was going to miss the flight – through no fault of my own.

Getting back to Hartford was a breeze, landed to snow on the ground and the tire pressure light on in my car… but that always happens because of the temperature changes.

 

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BTTI 16: Activities

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Each Hanson brother has an activity that they do with the fans. Our first activity was bracelet making with Zac.  We got in line and when we were approaching the door we were told that the session was full so he would have to do a 2nd one for the rest of us. Staff seemed surprised it was full… let’s do some math.  400 fans there (roughly) and they are split in half with red and green passes… so 200.  And we are trying to fit into a room that holds 100…

We ended up hanging around for an hour while session 1 did their thing because we weren’t sure if people would try to get into both sessions and if we were first in line we knew we’d make it in.  Zac ended up coming by and asking if we were waiting for the second session and when we said yes, he said good because he would be a pro by then.  We had red, green, yellow and black thread and were instructed to make a knotted bracelet. At first I couldn’t remember how I made them but once Zac said “make a 4” it all came back to me and I was off to the races.  He came by the check on everyone and said that if you made 10 knots it would be “really big” and I told him “not that big, I have 10 already” and he seemed annoyed I knew what I was doing! lol  He also mentioned that they did bracelets because most of us made them when we were 12 and that is when a lot of us found Hanson.   I remember selling them for money so I could buy Teen Beat and Tiger Beat magazines!

Our second activity was the following day with Taylor.  It was tie dye.  I had done tie dye at the 2 other BTTI events with Zac and that went well, but this year it was a mess. Literally and figuratively.  The shirts looked good when we first opened them, but all the dye started to drop down to the bottom of the shirts and looking at the initial photo when I first opened the shirt to what I am wearing now that it is done it looks like a totally different shirt.  The shirts we were given were also not 100% cotton, which is what is recommended so that might have been the problem.  Note to self – when Michaels has a sale during the year, stock up on a few just in case it is an activity again in the future! My bag for the trip got tie dyed, the strap on my brace did too.. and of course, my hands.  They provided only 1 glove per person and it was so hot that I just gave up.

The final activity was trivia with Isaac, which once again I found to be hard – but moreso because I don’t have their song lyrics memorized well enough than the fact that the questions were hard. (There was one tour related question that I found to be super easy!)  I have the first two albums lyrics down to the point I can recite them at the drop of a hat. Anything beyond that came out when I was in college and had less and less free time to listen to their CDs over and over.  And while I probably could sing along to most of the songs if they played them live (that’s actually probably a lie too though since they did a few in the concerts I couldn’t really sing along to aside from the chorus), giving me a snippit of a lyric didn’t trigger anything in my brain. So, note to self, if they do trivia again next year, spend a couple weeks before listening to all the Members Only EPs to get familiar with the lyrics!  The sad thing is, I re-did the lyrics section of hansonstage not too long ago too, but that was no help. And while I had WiFi I felt that even using my own website to cheat was still cheating so I didn’t look anything up.

Overall I liked these activities more than last years, though I did kind of miss painting. (Kind of) But not the anxiety that came with trying to figure out how to bring home a ceramic piece of art.

 

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BTTI 16: Hanson Show #3

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Then it was time for the final night and final show 🙁 Again we weren’t sure what to expect but ended up getting another mix of rarer tracks and fan club songs with a few singles thrown in for good measure. Although none of the full band songs got me anything that I hadn’t heard live before I did think that they were some pretty solid setlists.  I think that this was the best year yet, but I can’t exactly tell you why.  Maybe just the overall feeling, the new resort, etc.  And you can’t accuse me of saying that every year because last year I came home not sure if I ever wanted to go again.  This year I am all ready to book whenever it is announced! (Not that there ever was a doubt I’d have ended up there this year…)

Tragic Symphony
Thinking Bout Somethin
And I Waited
Man From Milwaukee
Runaway Run
Already Home
Watch Over Me
Call Out My Name (acoustic)
Never Let Go (acoustic)
A Song To Sing (acoustic)
Yearbook
Musical Ride
Great Divide
Minute Without You
Scream And Be Free
Cut Right Through Me
Penny and Me
Get The Girl Back
MMMBop
Fired Up / In The City
Roller Coaster Love / Whole Lotta Love

Encore:
Back To The Island
Happy Birthday Andrew

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BTTI 16: Hanson Solo Sets

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One of the exclusive events at Back to the Island is that each band member does a solo show performance.  Isaac has had the best set (in my opinion) the last 2 years running so I was interested to see if he would win again this year.  At first, I thought he did, but now that I have had some time to sit back and take it all in, I am giving the title to Zac this year.

Zac was up first and seemed to have grown a lot over the past few years with his solo sets. The first year was a bit awkward but he seems to be able to hold it on his own now.  He did need to google some lyrics – which made everyone laugh because he was on Isaac’s case so much last year about messing up!  He also came on stage with his hair down but half way through his set decided it was too humid and he had to pull it back.  I was impressed he lasted even a few songs, I wouldn’t have!   A highlight was Zac playing Lucy – something he had never played before. He has sung it, but never actually *played* it.

Give Me Your Best Shot
Juliet
I Am
Broken Angel
Lucy
Bittersweet
On and On
No Sleep For Banditos
Get So Low
Up All Night

Taylor had the 2nd solo set and was probably my 2nd favorite. (Maybe even close to a tie with Zac?) While his set was not funny, or goofy or full of mess ups, he had a solid setlist. I liked that he played Take Our Chances – a song he said was 10 years old but still relevant.  Having him do Look At You solo was really fun to hear as well. And Weird is one of my favorites so I loved that he included that in his set as well!  He did start Voice In  The Chorus and then decided to not play it and the setlist also had One More on the list and he opted to not play that either.

Every Word I Say
Kiss Me When You Come Home
Crazy Beautiful
Take Our Chances
Look At You
Dying To Be Alive
Weird
Ive Been Down
Sunny Day

Isaac was the last of the solo shows and he came with no setlist and was instead taking requests from the audience. I loved this approach, even though he did not play what I had yelled out. Maybe next year?  Some say that this made him come off as unrehearsed – but I am not sure how he could have rehearsed every song, ever and still took requests so he would come off as polished.  He also decided to play a song that he wrote when he was 14 that had never been recorded or played live before. (That was my ONE for the week!) I am pretty sure this is the song that the instrumental is played during TTMON. It was called “A Life Without You” and he said he wrote it about 2 weeks after More Than Anything for the same girl.  Another highlight of his set was playing Smile and Sometimes again – since that was the mess up from the year before.  He explained that we say one song and his brain thinks we said another and that it happened again when someone requested a song (Lonely Again) and his brain decided we wanted Leave the Light On.   The worst part about Isaac’s set was that he was very, very late to start (I think by an hour) I thought this may have been due to the photos running over – but I hear they were done by 4pm and his set wasn’t scheduled to start until 5:30pm.  Guess we can blame Ike for Hanson time.

Best of Times
Two Tears
A Life Without You
So Lovely
Leave the Light On
Next Train
Being Me
Grace Unknown
More Than Anything
Smile
Sometimes
River

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BTTI 16: Hanson Show #2

 

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Hanson Show #2  was originally billed as an acoustic show but rumors started swirling it would instead be a covers show.  I had figured that some of the covers from the Roots & Rock N Roll Tour would make their way into the sets but didn’t realize it would be an entire set.  I was worried that 2 of the 3 shows would turn into a Roots & Rock N Roll Tour – Jamaica – so I thought this was a happy medium so those of us that did go to the tour didn’t feel like it was the same thing over again, but those that missed the tour still got a taste of it.  They did throw in a couple songs they didn’t do on the tour – like starting the set with Gimme Some Lovin which was awesome.

During I Believe In A Thing Called Love, Zac climbed up the stage rafters right over the handicapped section which was awesome! Of course, it happened so fast and unexpected that I didn’t manage to get any photos of it. (And I had started recording video and then  stopped, which I am of course now kicking myself over!)

(This set also got bumped a day because there was a pretty bad rain / thunderstorm going on.  At first we thought we’d just enjoy the show in our bathing suits, but once I saw lightning I had a feeling that was going to put a stop to things.  Zac ended up coming to the stage to talk to those of us who were already waiting and let us know that it was canceled and they were working on a schedule for the next day.)

Gimme Some Lovin
Twist and Shout / Shake a Tail Feather
I Want To Take You Higher
Hold On Im Coming
You May Be Right
Movin Out
Remember the Time
I Want You Back
Oh Darling
Teach Your Children (acapella)
Change In My Life (acapella)
In A Little While (acoustic)
Thinking Out Loud
God Only Knows
Stand By Me
Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard
Cecelia
Chain of Fools
Signed Sealed Delivered Im Yours
Dancing In The Streets
Desire
I Believe In A Thing Called Love

Encore:
Kate
Its a Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock N Roll)