What a cool concept; a music festival on the vast sugar sand beaches of the Gulf Coast. A near perfect backdrop set in the redneck Riviera was the stage for some great music in Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket, Dead Confederate, Ween, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Flaming Lips, Widespread Panic, Girl Talk and tons more.
Day 1 Rundown:
The Nocturnals lit up the afternoon with a rockin’ and soulful performance from the hippy-turned-temptress Grace Potter
My Morning Jacket put on another fantastic festival show as the sun set. They played a crowd pleasing mix of favorites and tracks from their upcoming album Circuital. MMJ opened with the slow, creeping and climactic “Victory Dance” working the crowd into hysteria by the end with James’ possessed shrieking. They moved straight into another new track, “Circuital,” then worked in classics like “Gideon,” “Wordless Chorus,” and “Steam Engine.”
Festival Moment: Jim James recalls a high school spring break where he got tossed out of a bar in Gulf Shores.
Widespread Panic was Widespread Panic. Performance painter and New Orleans legend, Frenchy, followed the action around all weekend with a creative, prolific outpouring of work covering Dumpsta Funk at an early late-night show, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, My Morning Jacket, and Foo Fighters. Check out Frenchy’s website for more original artwork.
Festival Moment: Panic covers “Fairies Wear Boots.”
Day 2 Rundown:
I could hear Primus from where I was. Tunes like “Jerry was a Race Car Driver” and “My Name is Mudd” were as sloggy and prog-y as ever. The Flaming Lips were, well, the Flaming Lips – a band that puts on a festival spectacle at a festival or in someones garage.
The Foo Fighters have never done much for me. In fact, the only song that doesn’t sound like monotone FM radio rock buzz to me is “Everlong.” I DO know that Dave Grohl is cool as hell and Pat Smear is sort of a living legend. The cool factor would get me out to see them, but I never took the time. At Hangout I took the time to watch them slay about 40,000 people:
Festival Moment: People who waited patiently for Cee-Lo to show up were treated to a special impromptu set from the Foo’s as they covered some classic rock as filler.
Day 3 Rundown:
Despite the festival appearing to a be a bit oversold and the event staff being challenged with the duties associated with a crowd of this magnitude the 2011 Hangout Festival seemed to go off without any noticeable glitches.
Trombone Shorty held it down during a hot, humid afternoon set. His stage served as the “kids” stage for the first part of the afternoon before being co-opted by the older crowd for the later part of the day. I didn’t realize this at first and thought, “man there is a lot of swearing coming from the kid’s stage.” I think this confusion spilled over to the youngsters as well because Shorty got paid a visit by 5 year-old Dylan Miles during a somewhat “blue” rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” Little Dylan was everywhere with sightings around the festival from playing foosball with Dean Ween to hanging out with artist, Frenchy. Rumor has it, he sat in for a quick acoustic “sesh” with Dave Grohl. Other bloggers caught on to Dylan Miles as well.
Dylan Miles: Musical genius? Clever kid that gets backstage? Cute midget? You decide.
Ween looked lean and … mean. Both Deaner and Gene (Dean-and-Gene-Ween heh heh, huh-huh heh) dropped some weight since kicking drugs (or so I’ve heard). Gene especially as he was even skinnier than he was as a young man. Dean shredded and Gene’s voice was as sharp as ever as they moved through a wide range of excellent festy songs like: “Freedom of ’76,” “Take Me Way,” “Johnny on the Spot,” “Stroker Ace,” “Buckingham Green,” and “Ocean Man.”
Festival Moment: Ween covers Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”
The beachfront park seemed to be perfectly suited for a festival with built-in bar and stage areas and enough room to accommodate larger stages, trailers, and the armada of port-o-potties needed for a massive crowd. Although the span of the venue was manageable the delicate sugar sand made traversing the property laborious even for the most experienced Floridian. The sand did allow fans to build mountains for better views or dig custom holes with seatbacks for comfortable lounging and viewing.
Girl Talk brought the party and may have been underestimated by the organizers as his Boom Boom Tent performance brought about 3 or 4 times the tents capacity as dancing lunatics poured out of the tent, across the broadwalk and out into the beach.
Festival Moment: The area was far too packed to be safe so fire marshals cleared out the walkway to the VIP area to my chagrin. Moments later security, police, and fire officials were dancing and filming the scene on their iPhones.
Even though waste disposal was sufficient and well positioned the supposedly ecological generation didn’t seem to give a shit about piling bottles, food, and other junk on an otherwise pristine beach. I found myself fighting back the urge to A) walk around, pick up the bottles and B) trying not to choke hipsters and hippies with their own refuse. On the other hand, the overnight clean up crews seemed efficient at removing the waste and leaving the beaches a blank canvas to be painted with garbage the next day.
The Black Keys sounded great, but I was far too far away for enjoyment. Paul Simon closed out the festival. I left before he came on. I will kick myself when he croaks, but for now – meh.
PHOTOS BY: HEATHER FRECHETTE