This weekend marked the end of the Hangout Festival, Gulf Shore’s annual beach music festival. For many, it was weekend that ended in sunburn, a hangover and the catchy hooks from some of the weekend’s meany stellar sets.
There was a lot to love. After surviving the strangely intense frisking by on-site Alabama Police officers, we were granted entry into the surreal grounds of Hangout. There were five stages, ranging from the massive Hangout and Pandora Stage, to the intimate BMI Mermaid stage all within a walking distance. Swimsuit clad festival-goers were as far as the eye could see.
Best Undercard Sets
For the performing bands in the undercard spot, Hangout offers an incredible opportunity to solidify your spot in the musical lexicon of 35,000 of today’s youth. Succeed, and you may very well end up with a sub-headlining spot a year or two down the road. Fail, and this will likely be your last appearance at the festival.
Some bands that stepped up to the plate this weekend were:
Bryce Vine – With hits like “Drew Barrymore,” “Sunflower Seeds” and “Guilty Pleasures,” Bryce Vine (Bryce Ross-Johnson) had deep array of known tracks to draw from in his set. He did not disappoint. With a 1:15pm set time at the smaller Boom Boom Tent, fans spilled out into the street to see his electric energy and electro-pop choruses. Lyrically, Bryce speaks of youthful transgressions, such as in “Guilty Pleasures”:
I can’t give a f***, I’m just living like so what // I live a life of leisure, full of guilty pleasure
With one of the most vibrant sets of the weekend, it’s clear Bryce Vine’s star is on the rise.
Superorganism – The seven folks that composed Superorganism had a double edged sword in their placement on Pandora stage. On the positive side, they were playing at the second largest stage, beachside at Hangout. That said, their set time was in the scorching 82 degree sun, in the middle of the afternoon. Led by vocalist Orono Noguchi, Superorganism was distinctly different, in an authentic way. By sticking to their originality, the group maintained a friendly, quirky vibe that complemented their electronically-centric tracks. Superorganism plays with the structure of songs, aptly infusing cash sounds, and camera flashes in their track “Everybody Wants To Be Famous.” One of the background vocalists B, took center stage and demolished the quirky, yet surprisingly catchy tracks “Hello Me & You,” featured on the soundtrack of the Lego Movie 2.
Shaed – Composed of twin brother Max and Spencer Ernst and vocalist Chelsea Lee, Shaed took the intimate BMI Mermaid stage. Whether it was stage providing a much needed reprieve in the shade or Shaed’s enrapturing stage presence, the set progressed so quickly that we were left double checking our watch to see that 45 minutes indeed had passed. Chelsea Lee has a strong voice, that is left to the forefront, with the building beats left rightfully in a secondary role. The set was reminiscent of a vocally-focused Sylvan Esso or Phantogram.
Best Headlining Sets
Travis Scott – Travis Scott lived up to expectations by performing another energetic performance. He delivered fan favorites off his discography, and he included hits off of Astroworld that included “Stargazing,” “No Bystanders,” “Sicko Mode,” and “Astroworld.” Although he moved through songs at a rapid pace, the performance feel short as it failed to include “Yosemite,” “Upper Echelon,” and “Skeleton” which had been staples of his Astroworld tour.
Despite this performance coming at the culmination of his grueling Astroworld tour, he kept up the energy and satisfied the frenzied swimsuit-wearing audience.
Khalid’s title as the most popular artist on Spotify silenced those who doubted his headliner status, but there were still concerns regarding his ability to engage the fans who longed an up-tempo finish to the day on the beaches of Gulf Shores.
His strategic interspersing of hit songs and the incorporation of visual effects and background dancers kept the male crowd that might have been skeptical. By the end of the evening the crowd was singing to his hits of “Location” and “Talk.”
A perfect Sunday headliner, the Lumineers offered the breadth of discography and hits to appease casual followers and loyal fans alike. Lead vocalist Wesley Shultz started off the show with the surprising announcement that he intended to play half of the unreleased album during the show. With singles like “Gloria” and “Life In The City” out, it was fascinating to hear their new discography. Staying true to their roots, kick drums and strong raspy vocals by Wesley still pervaded these tracks. Vivid lyricism and an emphasis on story seemed to resonate through these new tracks. A particularly catchy song was “Life In The City,” in which he had the crowd oooh ooh oh along with him during the melodies.
Four songs in, Wesley announced they were going to do something a bit different. Out of nowhere, a stage in the middle of the crowd lifted up, revealing six mics. The audience went nuts. The band members made their way over and proceeded to sing “Flowers In Your Hair,” “Ho Hey” before an intimate rendition of “Slow it Down”. For “Slow It Down,” just Wesley and the Jeremiah were left on the stage. For five minutes of bliss, the two went mic to mic belting the tunes. Once the chorus hit:
Slow it down, Angie come back to be bed // Rest your arms, and rest your legs
There was an unforgettable moment where 30,000 people were immersed in song to the backdrop of an oceanside breeze. The sense of community and togetherness during these intimate songs is a hallmark of the Lumineers’ stage presence.
Jimmy Buffett’s Surprise Appearance
During Kygo’s set on Saturday evening, fans were shocked when the rock legend Jimmy Buffett rose atop the DJ set to perform “Margaritaville” alongside a steel drum accompaniment. His announcement of Buffet’s name came as a shock because he had been introducing vocal features of some of his songs throughout the evening, but it came as a great surprise when the crowd spotted Buffet’s familiar jovial face.
Quinn XCII’s Absence
Another great surprise at the festival was Quinn XCII’S last minute pull-out of the festival. While the details of his removal from the lineup aren’t entirely clear, it is suspected that illness prevented him from performing.
He was expected to be a standout undercard performer and the team at FestivalPulse is wishing Quinn a speedy recovery.
Beyond the Music
Outside of the great sets, Hangout offered a constant stream of dopamine-inducing diversions. Though inside the realm of a sponsor area, the Monster Energy Beach Club offered a caffeine-laden, foam-covered, snapchat-worthy experience for inebriated millennial who just couldn’t get enough DJ time.
Swimming and relaxing by the crashing waves was another great benefit of the festival if you were willing to arrive early or wait in the seemingly endless line. For those not willing to bear the line, many people chose to collapse in the hammocks strewn about the rustling palm trees.
The Fruit of the Loom Air-Powered expedition provided a free sailboat ride in the crashing waves of the Gulf, but due to wave conditions this promotion only ran on Friday.
The PlayStation experience provided an area to receive some much needed air conditioning, an opportunity to play some favorite video games, and a secure compartment to charge cell phones.
This year’s Hangout fest left festival-goers with a satiated feeling as the diverse lineup and varied assortment of food and activities made for an exhilarating weekend.
The weekend began with the upbeat tone with Bryce Vine and those caught up in the emotions of the festival were entertained until the final strum on Wesley Schultz’s acoustic guitar on Sunday evening. The festival did an excellent job of fusing multiple genres and allowing folk and indie bands to be featured alongside their more mainstream pop and EDM counterparts.
Until next year, Hangout! 🤙