Hangout Music Fest 2012 Review: Sunday, May 20th, 2012 – Gulf Shores, AL

By Justin Lyons
The final days of a festival weekend are typically tough to rise for, but this year Sunday seemed a little more chill than previous years. Luckily, a trip to the VIP section at the Hangout Main Stage made the day quite a bit more relaxing than previous years. The duel aqua pools complete with faux plastic grass were a great place to take in the sounds and hear other festival goers favorite acts of the weekend. The fenced in corner also made it easy to leisurely set up a place to stand in the sand for acts like Michael Franti and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Complimentary beer and water didn’t hurt either.

Big Freedia & The Divas – Xbox Stage – 12:45-1:45
Musically, I wouldn’t say Big Freedia offers more than strip club anthems, but the live show was one to remember. Big Freedia’s bass heavy bounce music act featured underground hits like “Azz Everywhere” and “Gin In My System”. While Freedia shouted commands at the audience, her crew of booty dancers made early Sunday look like what I imagine Magic City is like on a Saturday night.

Michael Franti & Spearhead – Hangout Main Stage – 2:45-3:45
As one of the few acts to make an appearance at all three years of Hangout, Michael Franti is essentially the “unofficial” mayor of Gulf Shores. Franti’s music embodies the precise culture festival organizers hope to provide in a laid back mindset that promotes positivity and fun. Franti had a permanent smile as he performed beach ready reggae hits like “The Sound of Sunshine” and his biggest hit “Say Hey (I Love You)”. He even let other artists in on the fun as Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros leader Alex Ebert and Alabama’s own Kristy Lee joined for a group song. With the amount of dancing that happened in the sand on Sunday, most would agree if Michael Franti returned to Hangout every year.

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – Hangout Main Stage – 5:00-6:30
13 musicians is a lot of people on stage for any act, but Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros manage to make it look effortless and artful. Frontman Alex Ebert may have looked like a ‘70’s drifter, but he played the part of live wire band leader as he jump-started the set leaping into the crowd in Sunday’s best performance. The crooner bounced around the stage and perched on speakers as he belted hits like “40 Day Dream” and incited a Hangout sing-along for “Janglin’”. For the most part, other members of the band seemed to feed off Eberts antics, smiling watching the lead singer interact with fans and jamming to instructed piano solos. The new tracks from Here (including “Man On Fire” and “That’s What’s Up”) were sure-fire hits that were a great showcase of Jade Castrino’s talents and had fans dancing in the white sand. The only flaw in the chemistry of the indie standouts was the clear annoyance Jade had for Alex. She seemed to avoid Ebert any time he floated by, but they seemed to reconcile as he briefly set up the band’s biggest hit “Home” and detailed Jade’s pitch of the now famous first line “Alabama, Arkansas”. He recalled that he wasn’t sure what the song would be, but Alabama sure felt like “home” at Hangout.

G. Love & the Special Sauce/Dave Matthews Band – Letting Go Stage/Hangout Main Stage – 6:30-8:00/8:00-11:00pm
Much of Hangout had filtered out by the time G. Love and Dave Matthews Band played their respective sets. The former was the last act to play on the concrete based Letting Go Stage and G. Love leisurely rapped fan favorites with a touch of blues rock. Many patrons reminisced about the high school nostalgia of “Baby’s Got Sauce” and shuffled their way to the final show of the night. An all Kings of Leon playlist of songs boomed from the speakers before Dave Matthews took the stage and made a few fans speculate that the TN act might headline next year. In the meantime, Dave Matthews opened the final show of the weekend with slow starters “Big Eyed Fish” and “Don’t Drink The Water”. The hushed beginning allowed a heavily inebriated fellow the opportunity to shout “Dave” multiple times before the leader of the band took a turn at the piano and sped things up for “Mercy”. The close connection that the drunken fan felt towards Dave Matthews Band is similar to the bond many people throughout the weekend mentioned about Hangout. Though 35,000 attendees is still a large crowd, being in an ideal beach location within a close proximity to most stages has made Hangout a “VIP” event, even if you can’t afford actual VIP. Now if Hangout can only put together the stellar lineup from 2011 together again, even more festival goers will be championing the Hangout Music Festival experience.


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