This is a post about “that Hanson thing” I go to every year. In the last few weeks as I’ve talked to music friends and band pals, I’ve been amused at the number of times someone has commented about me being in Tulsa for “that Hanson thing.” And to be honest, I’m never quite sure how to explain it because of the stigma that goes along with being a fan of the band that wrote the summer of 1997’s catchiest (and most annoying) song.
Yes, I’m 30 years old. Yes, I still belong to the Hanson fan club. And yes, I make the trek every May from Houston to Tulsa for their fan club weekend.
So what exactly do we do on these weekends? What is “that Hanson thing” I go to? Here’s your backstage pass:
So how did this whole Hanson thing even get started?
Here’s the basics: on May 6, 1997 the governor of Oklahoma declared it Hanson Day. Just that one day, that one year. But, being devoted music fans, Hanson fans (please do NOT call us fansons – no one thinks its cute or clever) kept it going, and somewhere along the way the band clued into the fact that we all celebrated this day in our own way…and they decided to celebrate with us.
Members Only Events (or “the MOE” as we call it) were born! They started incredibly small and every year it was something a little different – an intimate performance at a local theater in Tulsa, recording an acoustic EP at a storied (and sadly, now closed) local studio. Eventually so many people from not just all over the country – but all over the world – were coming to Tulsa for MOEs, that it was time for the event to grow.
Hanson puts these weekends together all on their own – there’s no record label, PR machine, etc. behind them anymore. Just them and their small team of employees. It’s amazing how this event has grown just in the past three years since I became a regular, and I can’t think of another band who does something like this – who puts together an entire weekend’s worth of events just to bring them together with their biggest fans.
Pretty freakin’ cool, if you ask me.
What do you do at Hanson Day?
They started off just as special performances, but Hanson Day has grown into something so much bigger than any of us ever imagined. In 2012, we got a block party that included local vendors and food trucks, a bowling tournament, an art gallery, the I Heart Hanson store in the foyer of their studio (EEK!) and, of course, an acoustic concert. In 2013, most of the event was centered around the release of Anthem, Hanson’s fifth studio album, and included an album listening party, documentary screening and – a surprise to all of us – the chance to sing on the 2013 members EP. (Which is how THIS happened.)
This year it was a series of lectures, one by each band member, a state of the band address, an electric show and even an after-party with DJ Taylor Hanson. There’s even more activities than this, and the art gallery and stores have become regular features. It’s amazing how many different things are happening during this weekend – you can never be bored!
The girls and I usually pick a few of the most important activities to participate in (none of us have the desire to bowl!), and we spend the rest of our time enjoying Tulsa. In 2012 we rode bikes up and down the River Parks trails along the Arkansas River – an activity we revisited this year. Stops at the boutiques in Brookside and the Blue Dome District are always a must, as well as meals at The Brook and Joe Momma’s. This year’s event happened to be the same weekend as Mayfest and the Blue Dome Arts Festival, so we had a great time just wandering the streets of downtown, taking in local art and music. Its a fun mini-vacation.
Why do you go to Hanson Day?
The number one reason I go? The spend time with “the girls.” And I think we all agree at this point, Hanson is just our excuse to get together, not our reason. Sure, the fan club weekend gives us unique access to the band that we wouldn’t get out on tour – this year we had the chance to take a group picture, just us and them! (And someday in the next two years, we might finally get it…) But for me, that’s not the main reason I attend. I go because I love spending a weekend with girls who love music the same way I do. And because I love getting the chance to meet the girls in person who follow my blog and have groups of “the girls” themselves.
I go because I love the chance to revisit and explore the city I once called home. There is something special about me and the city of Tulsa. I don’t know what it is, but it lights this fire inside of me like nowhere else on earth can. When I’m there, life feels more real, more magical. It’s nearly impossible to describe. All I know is it still feels like home, and I hope you have somewhere in the world that feels the same way because it’s special.
I go because when I’m 80 and old, I’ll be able to tell my kids or grandkids about how I used to travel to see bands. About how I was a member of this fan club and all the cool things the band did for us, just because they wanted to bring us all together once a year.
Can you say that about your favorite band?
Stay tuned – later today, I’ll be sharing all our misadventures from this year’s fan club weekend. And trust me…there were a LOT of misadventures.