Music, Sand, and Kaloopahs!
Hangout Festival 2018
Before I get to that weird word above you’ve probably never heard of let me tell you a bit about this festival. Hangout Fest is a midsize festival in Gulf Shores Alabama. The festival was interrupted by storms, and the Thursday pre-party was canceled. Luckily anyone that purchased a pre-party ticket was refunded.
Gulf Shores offers several places to stay, from beachfront condos to camping and cabins in a beautiful state park. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a group on Facebook that put on one hell of a party for Hangout every year. The iconic group is Riki Jee’s Kaloopahgroop. If you are thinking about doing this festival, especially if you’re going solo, I recommend you find Riki on social media and join the party. I had the time of my life with these awesome strangers that I now call friends.
Friday was a beautiful day, and the first act that I saw was Tash Sultana. What an incredible talent! Tash exploded onto the music scene after videos of her jamming went viral, and released with her wildly successful EP Notion in 2016. During her performance she showcased her musical ability by playing several different instruments (she can play 18!). Tash puts on a one-person show and showcases her talent by utilizing loops. If you’re not looking at the stage you tend to forget she’s up there all by herself. After Tash I wandered over to see Cold War Kids. I’ve seen these guys several times in the past year and I think the heat may have gotten to them because it was a bit of a lackluster performance. They’ve endured a pretty extensive touring schedule lately (just like Bassnectar I seem to be seeing them on every festival lineup I attend) but their fans seemed to enjoy it. Oh Wonder was next up for me. The performance was fun and full of energy. As usual they had the entire crowd dancing. I briefly wandered over to Portugal. The Man and enjoyed that show. They’re another group that I’ve seen at several festivals lately. After that I passed the time with a bit of EDM while waiting for The Killers to begin. I saw Zedd and Galantis. These two are always crowd favorites and their shows are always packed. Zedd played a lot of old-school Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston along with his current hits, including The Middle. The world premiere of Galantis’ new single Spaceship occurred during their performance, and the crowd went insane. The Killers closed out night one of Hangout to a massive crowd. The highlight of the evening for me was definitely the performance of American Girl in honor of the late Tom Petty, and the huge fireworks display at the end.
Day two made me aware that I need to pace myself during this festival! There are so many opportunities to have fun, including a roller rink, that it’s pretty easy to feel overwhelmed. Along with everything in the festival, Gulf Shores is a popular tourist town so there are lots of things to do outside of the festival.
Son Little serenaded the crowd early in the day. Roots of Creation played a set at the Sunset Stage, and I found out there was going to be a private show by them at my condo later in the evening. Skip Marley wasn’t able to make it to the festival, and some last minute scrambling saw a reggae superset in his place. Roots of Creation, Etana, Xperimento, and Pacific Dub put on a fun show. I saw Bleachers play to a large crowd at the Surf Stage, and kept things fun with seemingly unending energy. AWOLNATION and Tank and the Bangas were next for me. Part of what makes festivals fun for me is splitting my time between sets so I can see everyone I want to. AWOLNATION put on an okay show, but I left early to see Tank. Tank and the Bangas are an incredible New Orleans band, that consistently bring the house down. I definitely recommend seeing them if you get the opportunity. I watched San Holo another EDM act. I then decided to explore the festival more.
There are a lot of really fun activities to do inside this festival like I said before, but the most popular was the Roller Disco Wonderland. That area had the best party going on every time I walked by all weekend. There were a ton of incredible performances happening all weekend, but the roller rink just knew how to keep the party going until the end of the day Sunday. There was also a puppy kissing booth and a wedding chapel. Like I said before, lots of fun things to do!
After the festival was over Roots of Creation played a private show at the Kahloopahgroops complex. I always enjoy frequenting festivals, but nothing tops an intimate setting to experience music. Our complex was a short walk to the front gates, so as people were leaving for the evening they’d walk by and experience the show. Some people wandered in, others jammed from the sidewalk.
Sunday was a really busy day for me since there were a lot of acts that I wanted to see. I started my day out by wandering over to AJR, they brought a ton of energy to the crowd and I enjoyed their performance. This is what I really like about festivals because I hadn’t listened to them very much before. I’m glad that I wandered over to see them because they were fun, and very good. That’s my biggest advice to people who don’t frequent festivals very often and even people who do, go listen to a band you’ve never heard of. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve discovered amazing artists playing some tiny side stage. Next up for me was Slightly Stoopid. For me, they never disappoint in all the times I’ve seen them. They have a new album coming out soon so that made everyone excited to hear it. I watched NF, a talented rapper, with a tragic background, while sitting on a hill eating pizza for lunch. The Struts, one of the two bands that I was most excited to see on Sunday, was up next for me. If you’ve seen The Struts before you know that they put on one hell of a show. Playing in 85° heat on a sunny day on the beach (in sequins no less!) didn’t slow them down. The crowd was dancing and singing the whole time. I had a great time and they played every song I want to hear, including a cover of Dancing in the Dark. After that I saw a little bit of Foster the People. They had a really important message for everyone about mental health and bullying. This was in response to the school shooting in Texas and a shooting at a graduation in Georgia. I hopped back and forth from Big Boi to Greta Van Fleet (aka baby Led Zepplin). Greta Van Fleet are so talented, and had one of the smallest stages packed! I watched Big Boi after that I was sad I missed beginning of his performance. He played a few Outkast songs including Ms. Jackson and had the whole crowd dancing by the time I got over there. I listened to a little bit of SZA who was good, but you could tell her voice was strained. It was announced after the festival that she was taking a few days off from her tour due to a strain on her vocal cords. She’s been touring non stop for almost a year, that is rest much needed. I wandered over and watched Grouplove for a bit. Odesza was my next stop. I try not to miss them if they’re playing. As I watched the show there was lightning in the distance over the Gulf and the energy of the crowd was pretty incredible. I’m not sure if this was because of the music or because it was Sunday and everybody was tired or a little bit of both, but the atmosphere was awesome. Kendrick Lamar closed out the festival to a massive crowd. Everyone was waiting for Sza to come out and perform All the Stars from the Black Panther soundtrack with him.
Despite the negativity that seemed to swirl around the atmosphere of the festival and the persistent rumors about it changing location next year, this was a great experience. I’ve been to festivals that have been more hectic and had worse staff and experiences. I hope Hangout returns to Gulf Shores next year, but if not I look forward to experiencing it anywhere.