[FESTIVAL COVERAGE] Hangout Music Festival 2013 Recap
We rolled up on Gulf Shores, Alabama at 4 am after driving 15 hours through the night. We have to pick a friend up at the airport in 4 hours, we haven’t yet slept, and so we park the car and try to catch a couple zzz’s with the ocean as our playlist. How could we complain? In our minds, we had already kicked off Hangout Music Festival 2013.
This year marked the fourth birthday of the one of a kind music festival that is situated literally on the sandy white beaches of beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama. Created in part to help bring back tourism to the gulf, Hangout Fest has since been touted by attendees and artists alike as one of the best music festivals the US has to offer. With two pools in the VIP viewing area at the main stage, private beaches and jet skis for artists backstage, giant water slides and the waves all within a 2 minute walk from any beer tent, how can you go wrong?
Hangout Music Fest boasted some massive talent for this year’s show which included legends Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Stevie Wonder as well as festival veterans Ellie Goulding, Dillon Francis, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Umphreys McGee, Passion Pit and so many more. We had the opportunity to catch a ton of great musical acts, so keep reading and see how your favorite artists performed at this year’s festival.
Head over to our Facebook page to see pictures of all our favorite performers from this year. If you were at the festival, we may have gotten a picture of you! Check out The People and Places of Hangout Fest and feel free to tag yourself!
Hangout Music Festival officially kicked off Thursday afternoon with the grounds opening two stages for attendees to catch some amazing music one day early. For a small ticket fee, fans were treated to acts from a multitude of artists including Reptar, Quixotic, Hayes Carll, Conspirator, Dillon Francis, Benny Benassi, Umphrey’s McGee and quite a few others. It felt like Hangout Fest might be trying to build or incorporate a fourth day in the future as most of the grounds were open to roam and the big names that were brought in drew a good sized crowd. Still, the stages weren’t slammed and fans were treated to more intimate shows than might usually be experienced in a festival setting.
We started the night wandering the grounds to get a feel for everything before heading to the Boom Boom Tent – the home of most of the EDM focused music for the weekend – to catch the live band performance from Conspirator. Following the 4-piece group was cat-loving, beatmaker Dillon Francis and the grimy sounds of his bass heavy trap and electro sounds. With bangers like “Messages,” “Bootleg Fireworks,” and “Masta Blasta” it was impossible to catch a breathe during his set.
Rounding out the night was the extremely talented, world renowned Benny Benassi. The man could have spun white noise all night long and the crowd would not have reacted negatively. Injecting massive amounts of energy into the mid-sized tent, Benny ran through all the classics which included a massive remix of the Rolling Stones’ track “Doom & Gloom,” “Touch Me,” “Cinema,” and “Perfect Storm.” Of course, the night would not have been complete if someone didn’t play a new Daft Punk track, and Benny was more than happy to oblige with his take on their hyped new single “Get Lucky.”
Day 1: Friday
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Friday morning started hot, hot, hot! I’m not only talking about the music but the temperature as well as Gulf Shores experienced beautiful 80+ degree weather for most of the weekend. Beginning our day was UK songstress Lissie at the Chevrolet stage, the second massive structure which sat opposite the main Hangout Stage on the sand. Providing the perfect mellow start to the day, Lissie strummed through her set which ended in her crowd pleasing rendition of Kid Cudi’s “Day N’ Night.” Following the heat of the white beaches was Ra Ra Riot and the relative cool the Boom Boom Tent shade brought. However it didn’t last long as the group quickly got the crowd moving to singles such as “Too Dramatic” and “Beta Love.”
We returned to the heat of the beach to soak in the fantastic reggae vibes of Toots and the Maytals as they jammed out to classic summer tunes like “Pressure Drop,” “Reggae Got Soul,” and an acoustic set which included “Funky Kingston.” Bringing the Boom Boom Tent back to life after a short break was Nick van de Wall, although you and everyone else may know him better by his stage name Afrojack. The Dutch DJ rocked through a slew of his remixes and originals which included hits such as “No Beef” and “Can’t Stop Me.”
Mississippi rockers The Weeks was the only band to bring us over to the BMI stage, one of the smaller stages at the whole festival that still brought in massive talents like The Tontons, Chancellor Warhol, and Space Capone. The Weeks had caught our attention with the release of their new album Dear Bo Jackson, of which they rocked most of their set from with tracks like “The House We Grew Up In” and “Brother In The Night.” We had a chance to sit down and interview these guys and I have to say it you would be hard pressed to find a better, more humble group of southern rockers.
The next three performances all seem like a blur to me as Passion Pit, Big Gigantic, and Kings Of Leon provided a maelstrom of noise that could have put any other music lover in a sonic coma. Lead singer of Passion Pit, Michael Angelakos, had the crowd amped up, multiple times throwing the mic towards the crowd in an attempt to capture the massive sing-alongs that took place during hit singles such as “Take A Walk,” “Constant Conversations,” and their massively popular “Sleepyhead.” Big Gigantic blew up the Boom Boom Tent next in an explosive combination of EDM, saxaphone, and drums which had the audience jumping around to the sounds of “All Nighter,” “Stronger,” and “Let’s Go.”
Talihina, Oklahoma rockers Kings Of Leon closed out night one on the Hangout Main Stage. Admittedly, I was not as excited for Friday’s headliner with Saturday and Sunday’s main talent being so massive, but the brothers four still put on a great show on the shores of the beach. By far the most memorable moment of their set, and still the most popular song the group performs, was the hyped up rendition of “Sex On Fire.” While it was played to death upon it’s release date, it had been a minute since I listened to the single and it played well with the rest of their set list which included everything you’d want, from “Use Somebody” to newer tracks like “Pyro.”
Day 2: Saturday
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Saturday saw a late start for us for a couple reasons. The hangover aside, we had interviews booked with The Weeks and Moon Taxi in the Media World control center. Despite the lack of forethought about the amount of sound that would be pumping through the interview areas – the Chevy main stage and Boom Boom Tent were both situated nearby – Media World kept it classy with acts such as The TonTons performing throughout the weekend.
So we made a fashionably late appearance to the festival Saturday just in time to catch arguably our favorite shows the weekend with The Roots. Bringing a massive amount of energy and funk to the stage, ?uestlove and crew threw down some old school covers of “Jungle Boogie” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” as well as tracks such as “Mellow My Man” and “Mercy.” And while we were in the mood for some hip-hop, we thought a set from Kendrick Lamar would be a nice follow up to The Roots. However, we found out once we got to his stage that he was already more than 20 minutes late. Forty-five minutes later and he still hadn’t shown up, which led MTV’s Sway, who was hosting some of the events, to bring rappers out of the crowd to spit on stage. Apparently Kendrick showed up at some point, but we couldn’t have cared less by then – don’t keep your fans waiting.
What we ended up doing was taking a trip to the main stage to catch old school rockers The Black Crowes just in time for the end of their set. From our vantage point we caught came just in time to catch a couple tracks including Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle,” “She Talks to Angels,” and “Twice as Hard.” With one more set of performances before the headliner for the night, we split time between Slightly Stoopid and Bassnectar, two groups that could not have been farther away from each other in terms of sound. While Slightly Stoopid took the crowd to a ‘higher’ state of mind beginning with singles like “Till I Get Wet,” “Ska Diddy,” and “2 AM,” Bassnectar threw down on the Chevy stage to a massive crowd ending with hard hitting tracks such as “Ping Pong,” remixes of “Seven Nation Army” and “This Is Why I’m Hot,” and “Bass Head.” With Tommy Petty set to follow, and a majority of the crowd being a little older, I believe Bassnectar helped introduce a whole new generation of people to the sounds of EDM as more than a few people I talked to had no idea who Bassnectar was, but that they did enjoy the massive sounds coming from the stage.
Closing out the evening was penultimate rockstars Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The headlining act for Saturday night brought in more of the Baby Boomer Generation than I could have imagined, with the older women swooning to the sound of Tom’s name even before he took the stage. While I didn’t necessarily grow up to his music, my parents did and listened to him much of my childhood. Needless to say, I was excited to get my first listen to the legendary rock n’ roller. Although the night didn’t start off as expected as police had to escort a man off premises who was carrying a knife and threatening to kill Tom Petty, things only went up from there. With a two hour set to end the night, Tom Petty rollicked his way through all the classic singles you would expect to hear, including “I Won’t Back Down,” “Nobody Knows,” Free Fallin’,” “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” and closing with a rousing rendition of “American Girl” as fireworks lit up the night sky.
Day 3: Sunday
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And then it was Sunday. The final day of the festival and, in my opinion, boasting the best lineup of the festival. I walked into Hangout on the muggy Sunday afternoon to the tunes of Best Coast and lead singer Bethany Cosentino urging couples to finger blast each other to their mellow tunes. It was a comical first 5-minutes which was promptly followed by the mellow sounds of “The Only Place,” “No One Like You,” and “Let’s Go Home.” Jumping over to the opposite side of the festival grounds, GROUPLOVE was just taking the stage. I had just seen the group perform in Chicago a couple weeks earlier, but even I wasn’t ready for the amount of energy they brought to the stage. Chasing each other around, jumping up and down, and generally having an amazing time, GROUPLOVE soared through “Naked Kids,” “Colours,” and an awesome take on “Tongue Tied” which they augmented into a fantastic cover of “Dance With Somebody.”
Our interview with Moon Taxi a day earlier brought us over to the Letting Go Stage to catch a bit of their performance before the heavy hitting day 3 acts began their sets. Another group of extremely down-to-earth and humble guys, Moon Taxi jammed out under the overcast afternoon sky to an eager audience. While I’m not as familiar with the group’s discography, I recognized an amazing cover of The Raconteurs “Level” as well as the festival perfect single “Mercury.”
The next three acts comprised of some of my top acts of the entire weekend. Catching it’s stride in the home stretch, Hangout Music Fest saw day 3 end with Ellie Goulding, Imagine Dragons, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. UK songstress Ellie Goulding always put on an amazing show full of such rambunctious energy, yet still seems in complete control of herself at all times. At one point during her set she just took a minute, closed her eyes, and seemed to focus all her thoughts on the moment and the performance which included crowd favorites “Figure 8,” “Hanging On,” “Anything Could Happen,” and “I Need Your Love.”
As Ellie finished up with “Starry Eyed” we made our way to the beginning of Imagine Dragons’ performance. I had not heard much of these guys’ music before (with the obvious exception of “Radioactive”) and was interested to see if their performance lived up to the hype. It does. Lead singer, Dan Reynolds, while suffering a broken hand did not miss a beat as he soared through singles such as “It’s Time” and “The Underdog.” Multiple times he ran off-stage and got a bit more intimate with the audience, running up and down the perimeters of the crowd. No doubt the highlight of their set was the insanely catchy “Radioactive” which they played to perfection.
Closing out our evening before the main headliner were the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Impeccably dressed and raunchy to the core, lead singer Karen O rocked out all over the main stage while the rest of the crowd danced ’till we died. While the group started a bit more subdued with newer tracks like “Sacrilege,” “Gold Lion,” and “Succubus,” by the middle of their set they had the audience throwing around a giant inflatable eyeball to the tunes of “Mosquito,” “Heads Will Roll,” and closing with “You’re A Zero.” At multiple points, Karen O just kept screaming “Stevie Fuckin’ Wonder!” – and I could not have agreed with her more.
And then there was Stevie Wonder. The epitome of musical talent performing all his hits right in front of my eyes. This guy can literally take any sound in the world, sing it into his mic, and it will sound good. And he did this at multiple times through the night, scatting and beat boxing sounds before launching into grand compositions of some of his most famous pieces such as “Sir Duke,” Isn’t She Lovely,” and My Cheri Amore.” And while his originals would have been just amazing to hear by themselves, he managed to throw in some covers that people of all ages enjoyed. While his renditions of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” Bob Marley’s “I Wanna Love You,” and “The Beatles’ “Day Tripper,” it wasn’t until he broke into a stripped down version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” that stole the weekend in terms of best-of moments.
Stevie took to the mix multiple times to address the crowd about issues that were important to him, and even broke down to tears in a rare moment of vulnerability while thanking God for everything he had been blesses with in life. Before finishing the night with a massive rendition of “Superstition,” Stevie took to the mix one last time, and among other things, gave these last words of advice that I’ll leave you with as it not only summed up the general tone at the heart of Hangout Music Festival, but of all music festivals.
“If you heart is big enough, love somebody. If your heart is really big enough, love everybody.”