The fifth annual Hangout Music Festival took place on the beautiful coast of Gulf Shores, Alabama this past weekend, and it was legendary to say the least. With three days of music featuring headliners like The Black Keys, The Killers, and Outkast, fans from all over flocked to the beach to catch good vibes and great music.
I spent the majority of the festival at the Hangout Stage. It’s the main stage, so it is the largest at the festival and can accommodate the most amount of people. Some of the biggest acts performed here and this stage definitely did not disappoint. I first heard Gary Clark Jr.’s soulful performance here and was delighted by the incredible things he can do with a guitar. The Black Keys were the headliner on Friday night and they performed songs off of their brand new album “Turn Blue” for the first time live. The Killers headlined on Saturday and their energy captivated the audience as Brandon Flowers made sure we all had our dancing shoes on. On Sunday, Outkast closed out the festival perfectly by celebrating 20 years of their time together and giving everything they had while the audience was busy shaking it like polaroid picture. Needtobreathe, Amos Lee, Modest Mouse, and The Avett Brothers were some of the other memorable performances from the Hangout Stage.
The Chevrolet Stage was also filled with unforgettable talent. Ingrid Michaelson, Allen Stone, and Jack Johnson made this a stage for easy listening. Matt and Kim completely changed the chill atmosphere though, keeping it weird with their fast paced set and the quirky way they interacted with the fans. Bastille was my personal favorite from this stage and there was no lack of dancing in the audience when they played their hit “Pompeii.”
All EDM junkies should camp out at the Boom Boom Tent with their eclectic mix of beats, bass, and psychedelic light shows. This tent is where to go if you’re interested in everything neon, hula hoops, or swapping kandi. The Flaming Lips fit in perfectly at the Boom Boom Tent with their typical outlandish outfits and trippy stage setup.
Of course the purpose of a music festival is to experience all of the live music, but what really makes the experience unique is the time spent between shows getting to know your friends better, meeting new people, enjoying the gorgeous sunsets on the beach, and appreciating the extraordinary things in life. I had so much fun and I learned a lot about how to make the best of an already fabulous event.
The first day of the festival made it very clear to me that there was no avoiding the sun as there is very little shade. There were a lot of burnt people walking around with very interesting tan lines and I was lucky enough to somehow avoid that fate. I would recommend that anyone that goes bring spray sunscreen with them because nothing is worse than rubbing lotion on sandy skin. At least I can say I did plenty of exfoliating!
Camelbak was one of the sponsors for Hangout this year and they were nice enough to provide the extremely necessary water fill-up stations. You have to really watch out for them because there aren’t many and depending on the location, the lines can get pretty long. I suggest that if you find one that isn’t crowded to go ahead and top off your water bottle so you don’t run out of water and have to stand in line when you could be discovering new artists at the Red Bull Sound Select Stage.
The food at Hangout can get pretty expensive and since you can’t bring food in, you don’t have much choice but to spend some money. The best thing to do to make sure you get the most out of your money is to just look at what other people are getting to get an idea of how big everything is. I made the mistake of spending $7 on baked ziti that didn’t even come close to filling me up. By the end of the festival I learned that even though a burrito might cost $10, it’s big enough to split with a friend and both be satisfied.
The porta potties are gross but mostly unavoidable. Breathe through your mouth. Bring a bandana to help avoid taking in the bad smells. Always have wet wipes on you and be willing to walk extra to use the much nicer bathrooms at The Hangout restaurant.
If you are a normal, sane person you definitely don’t want sand in your bathing suit bottoms. Bring a bed sheet to sit on. Towels are heavier and take up a lot of space in your bag so sheets are better and typically give you more space than a towel anyways.
Don’t forget to check out all of the vendor and sponsor tents for the chance to get cool stuff. A lot of sponsors have awesome giveaways, like upgraded VIP passes or beach access. This year Pizza Hut provided a mechanical shark, a photo booth, and free screenprinted shirts. Chevrolet also provided a bunch of great stuff too, like charging stations and free wifi. You can even play volleyball with some friends or get hitched to your boo right on the beach.
One of the most important things to keep in mind while you’re having fun is to stay safe. If you decide that alcohol or drugs are going to be a part of your weekend pay extra attention to the amount of water you are drinking. Don’t let things that are easily avoided to get in the way of a good time! If you missed the performances you can watch video highlights here.
All other images courtesy of Sarah Spivey