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 (which, I swear, were the ones I’d seen on www.shoehero.com) 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.