On The Road Again: Bikinis And Bands At The Hangout Festival
Imagine the Austin City Limits Music Festival or even the rapidly approaching Free Press Summer Fest on pure, white sand just feet away from a (variably) blue ocean, or as Thurgood Jenkins from Half Baked would say, "Right near da beach. Boy-eeee!"
The Hangout Music Festival is located at Gulf Shores, Ala., on the shores of the Gulf Of Mexico, in the sleepy resort town of just a few thousand people, and mere miles east of Mobile. This year's edition of the three-day festival was just the second in its history. In a crowded crop of music festivals, Hangout is actually the biggest in its habitat, meaning it can cater to masses starved for big-budget sweaty spectacles.
With a lineup including Motorhead, Paul Simon, Foo Fighters, Flaming Lips, My Morning Jacket, Widespread Panic, The Black Keys and Primus, among others, the second year was more than enough to compete with the established big boys in the festival industry.
Having a festival on sand is a welcome change from grass and hard ground, but a challenge for fans and those working the event. Getting from one main stage to the other in time to shoot a band was an exercise in agility and endurance, but something we needed anyway.
There were six stages on the grounds of Hangout, one large-scale stage for the likes of Simon and the Foos, with a smaller one for the Lips, Primus and My Morning Jacket. Another tent was for dance-oriented artists like Girl Talk and Rich Aucoin, all the way to Old Crow Medicine Show and Drive-By Truckers. A tucked-away Shaka Island stage catered to smaller singer-songwriters like Justin Townes Earle.
The vibe was incredibly beachy, with women of all ages running around in bikinis, and shirtless men showing off both tattoos and toned bodies. We can't stress the lack of clothing enough You better look at those slideshows because we felt like supreme creepers for three days.
There was a midway filled with food and merch, the former ranging from regional fare up to small-serving gourmet snacks. Those lucky enough to have condos within walking distance of the fest were spared riding on shuttle buses.
As for the music, on Friday evening we got to see My Morning Jacket play songs from their new Circuital after spending almost nine hours in a car listening to the upcoming disc. Hearing "One Big Holiday" with your feet in real sand and realer beer was an event. Earlier, we watched a mildly-clothed Grace Potter rock out for almost two hours with her Nocturnals.
Jim James of My Morning Jacket
Saturday afternoon Cee-Lo Green was fashionably late to the tune of almost an hour, but the Foo Fighters came out to sate the crowd with a small covers set including Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' "Breakdown" and Alice Cooper's "School's Out," the latter for the college kids who just went through spring finals. Once Green did show up, he helped Dave Grohl and the boys through Prince's "Darling Nikki" to wide acclaim.