This year’s 2nd annual Hangout Music Festival took place in Gulf Shores, Alabama the weekend of May 20-22. This relatively new festival sold out and gathered big names to headline, including Paul Simon and the Foo Fighters. This festival was anything short of musically diverse. Hangout encompassed something for everyone; it had everyone from Bassnector and Cee-Lo Green to My Morning Jacket, Portugal, The Man and Paul Simon. People from all over the country and even outside the United States landed in Gulf Shores Beach with something already in common -- music. My friends and I drove five hours from Louisiana and camped out at a local campsite only a few minutes from the festival site.
The first day, Friday, my friend took me to the Grace Potter and the Nocturnals show. At first, I was a little hesitant because her sound was unlike anything I typically listen to. However, after a few songs I found myself uncontrollably dancing and moving to the music. Grace’s energy on stage is undeniable and her interaction with the crowd truly captured anyone in her vicinity making the experience seem personal. Not to mention her voice sends shivers up your spine and goosebumps across your arms. Grace Potter is from Waitsfield, Vermont and the band was originally formed on the St. Lawrence campus where Grace attended. According the band’s website and critics, “Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are like a modern-day version of Tina Turner stroking the microphone in a spangled mini-dress while fronting the Rolling Stones circa 'Sticky Fingers.'” In other words, her sound is electrifying.
On Saturday, the festival played host to special events outside the actual music festival. For example, they brought in a world famous yoga instructor to teach a class on Saturday and Sunday morning before the start of the music. Kelly Morris taught the class with her helpers on the beach to jump start everyone’s day. She introduced new poses to the crowd, which consisted of beginners to advanced yogis. Her class was intense enough to get the blood moving and her energy sent good vibes in every direction. After her class ended, people rushed into water to cool off from the bearing sun that was relentless over our bodies. My friends and I found it to be one of the most refreshing times to escape into gulf on our whole trip.
While waiting for Minus the Bear to start band to start, Civil Twilight caught my ear and I decided to see what it was all about. I soon came to realize that I stumbled upon a great band. They were fun and catchy that was simply pleasant to listen to. They’re made up of three guys from South Africa where they all grew up together. Civil Twilight have a light pop/rock sound but are distinct enough from a typical OneRepublic or Augustana sound. Minus the Bear played a quick, smooth set as they glided through their list of songs. They are definitely a band to check out if in the mood for simply good music. They’re indie alternative sound is unlike any other.
Later in the afternoon, Cee-Lo Green was scheduled to play but an unexpected event happened instead. Cee-Lo failed to show up on time, so Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters took the stage to fill in the empty space. They played cover songs until Cee-Lo showed up at the end of his alloted set. Most of the crowd didn’t seem to mind this mishap and were excited to see essentially two Foo Fighters shows in one day. Once Cee-Lo arrived he and his band played quickly through his famous “F*** You” song and only partway through three others. By this point in the show, most of his fans that crowded the stage to see him, had drifted to a different stage to see another awaited artist.
On to the last but definitely not least day, Sunday! Portugal. The Man kicked things off early in the morning with a mixture of a little old a little new. These guys played some of their old stuff, but they featured a variety of their current or most recent songs. Their set was relatively flowed well, but with very little interaction with the crowd. Perhaps they were trying to beat the heat, since the band’s from Alaska and all. The lineup on Sunday was filled with easy going music to end the overwhelming weekend.
My friends and I sat and laid back in the sand as Amos Lee took the stage. We enjoyed his bluesy voice and simple melodies in the most perfect way, relaxing on the beach. Amos has a talent for singing directly to each person in the crowd. His style flowed well with the beach as they were in harmony. Later in the evening, the mood picked up for Girl Talk and his mind blowing mash-ups. In true Girl Talk fashion, he allowed people to flood the stage with him and party as one. The crowd stayed pumped up following Girl Talk as the Black Keys took the stage. Playing what seemed like a “perfect set,” Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney graced our presence with a “perfect” encore. Finally, to end Hangout Festival of 2011, Paul Simon rounded things off. This was the best way to end such an amazing weekend for so many people. Despite the blazing sun, long lines, crowded stages, disorganization, bad phone reception and smelly port-a-potties, in the end it was all worth it. My friends and I built many memories on this trip that we will take with us for the rest of our lives.