Hangout Music Fest 2012 Review: Saturday, May 19th, 2012 – Gulf Shores, AL

By Justin Lyons

Hangout Music Festival must have made a concerted effort of getting fans to the grounds earlier than previous years. Day two of the weekend continued the trend in scheduling quality, overlapping sets of Athens, GA’s Futurebirds, the head-nodding EDM of Archnemesis and indie poppers Givers. Luckily, if walking on the sand wasn’t your ideal mode of transportation, Hangout shuttles and promotional rides from Chevrolet were available to get to the festival faster. Hangout’s much maligned shuttle service was completely overhauled from 2011 with a new, experienced provider. The improvements included safer, fenced waiting areas, quicker access to buses with more drivers readily available and Krispy Kreme donuts on the evening ride home. Who would complain about that?

Heartless Bastards – Letting Go Stage – 2:15-3:15
Much like my experience with Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes during Friday’s set, you could hear conversations in the crowd during Heartless Bastards afternoon set like “wait, she is the singer?”. Erika Wennerstrom, the lead vocalist for the Cincinatti, OH based rock band, sports long blonde locks and is rail thin which isn’t what people expect when they hear her bellow on cuts like “Searching For A Ghost”. You could sense a general haze from the previous late night throughout much of the crowd at the Letting Go stage, but the four-piece expertly rolled out hits like “Got To Have Rock ‘n Roll” and “Low Low Low”. The howling guitar and thumping drum of “The Mountain” was a more than adequate introduction for the next Hangout Main Stage act, Gary Clark Jr..

Gary Clark Jr. – Hangout Main Stage – 3:15-4:30
A late schedule change caused one of the most talked about decisions of the weekend as Skrillex was moved to the same Saturday set time as buzzing blues rocker Gary Clark Jr.. Mr. Clark Jr. was the primary “must see” act for me at Hangout so my decision was easily justified as he delivered a pounding set without a cloud in the sky. Sporting a black fedora, dark sunglasses, dark jeans and ocean blue t-shirt, Clark gave off the vibe of the coolest man at the festival with the most clothing. While he only has an EP and album released so far, Clark mustered a full set that flew by with a particularly uptempo rendition of “Don’t Owe You A Thing” and a grinding performance of fan favorite “Bright Lights”. The set only slowed to showcase the Austin, Texas based act’s range on falsetto slowburner “Please Come Home”, a faithful tribute to BB King’s “3 O’Clock Blues”and Clark’s gleaming white smile.

Dispatch – Hangout Main Stage – 5:15-6:30
Crowds had grown particularly large by the end of the day, so we camped out on the left side at the Hangout Main stage for Dispatch. Hangout was one of the first festivals of many the band has lined up in 2012. Singer Chad Urmston thanked fans for their continued support and mentioned how odd it is performing to a crowd with so little clothing. After reuniting last summer, the jam veterans showcased a tight set mixed with old hits like “Bang Bang” and “Two Coins” and new songs destined to be set list staples. As promised, the band brought in a banjo wielding musician to add flair to classics and made “Broken American” from last year’s Dispatch EP even more attention grabbing. Other highlights included a brief, but welcome sun soaked cover of “Mrs. Robinson” and set closer “The General” had fans singing in unison as Dispatch put their stamp on a successful Hangout appearance.

Flogging Molly – Letting Go Stage – 7:00-8:30
The Irish tour junkies of Flogging Molly always bring a rowdy affair to every performance and their Hangout set might have been the most raucous of the day. It was nearly impossible not to stomp and chant along as the 7-piece outfit commanded the crowd with the only accordion I witnessed all weekend. In between hard-driving Gaelic-inspired tracks like “Requiem For A Dying Song” and “Drunken Lullabies”, lead singer Dave King gave his typical comedic stage banter covering topics like Ireland’s football accomplishments and leaving his homeland. Flogging Molly even tried their hand at a political anthem on “The Power’s Out” which was particularly fitting given economic times.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Hangout Main Stage – 9:00-11:00
Attendance for Jack White was sizable, but the crowd Red Hot Chili Peppers drew was massive. By the time the newly reunited Cali act kicked off the Saturday evening set with “Monarchy of Roses” and anthem “Can’t Stop”, beachgoers were lined up all the way to the Sky Bar. Unfortunately those in the back likely had trouble hearing Anthony Kiedis and company play everything from “Suck My Kiss” to classic “Under The Bridge”. A self-proclaimed Nashville producer mentioned to me that the sound board need to “crank up the volume” and I would have to agree. Despite the audio deficiencies, Red Hot Chili Peppers brought enough energy as Kiedis belted out newer tracks like “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” and “Californication” throughout the cool Gulf-side night. The headliners must have got the memo that Hangout specializes in jam acts in drawing out “Higher Ground” and extending set closer “Give It Away” into a progression-filled punctuation on the night .


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