The Hangout Festival Experience Day 1 2013 #ReggaeReflection
May 17, 2013 - Last year was the first year that the Hangout Festival made my radar. Event schedule conflicts prevented me from attending it in 2012 so I made it a priority to plan for 2013 and I was not disappointed. As a first time traveler to Alabama, this was an experience I was looking forward to. From the first day it was obvious that the Hangout Festival has become a annual retreat for followers from all over. I encountered many individuals that travel each year from Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas and other nearby locations to attend this festival. Three day general admission passes sold out prior to the start of the festival that attracts approximately 35,000 fans each day.
One thing for certain is the Hangout Festival lives up to its name and has done so in a relatively short period of time. At the center of the festival is a local landmark restaurant aptly named The Hangout and from which the festival is based. The Hangout's slogan "Where 59 ends and the fun begins" refers to its location at the end of Route 59 and is an accurate description of all the activities taking place. There were numerous places to hangout within the festival grounds. One could chill and listen to your favorite type of music ranging from EDM , Rock, Alt Rock, Reggae, Hip Hop, Country and everything in between. One section of the beach was transformed into an Island Oasis complete with a stretch of grass running down to the Rum Bar along with hammocks nestled under palm trees next door. Plenty of cooling misters were located all over the festival grounds.
The festival which started in 2010 has evolved into a 3 day festival with 5 stages often running concurrently each day. Each stage varied in size from a large covered tent which entertained the youngest crowd with high energy Hip Hop and EDM sets from popular artists such as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Public Enemy, and Kendrick Lemar; to the largest stage (one of two stages located directly on the white sandy beach) reserved for the festival headliner acts Kings of Leon, Tom Petty, and Stevie Wonder closing out the festival on Sunday night.
While most of the stages had very nice VIP viewing areas, it was the main stage that really stood out with their Super VIP 2 story cabana type structures making it a very pleasant experience to view the headliner performances. MTV and VH1 provided unprecedented coverage including a livestream of a majority of the acts making everyone at home wish they were in Gulf Shores having as much fun. Check out many of the clips on hangout.mtv.com
The only drawback I could even barely mention is that with over 60 bands scheduled there is just too much to choose from so I did my best to attend the Reggae, Hip Hop, and R&B sets along with several rock bands I wanted to check out. Last but not least on my list, a performance from my long time favorite rock legend Tom Petty whom I have not seen since my early rock concert going days.
Check out coverage for Day 2 & 3 below
Day 1 Photos & highlights with Toots & The Maytals, Ryan Bingham and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Toots delivers a beach party on the Chevrolet Stage
In the early afternoon, rocking the Chevrolet Stage, the 2nd Largest stage located at the end of the white sandy beach was veteran Reggae artist Toots and the Maytals. Band member and lead guitarist Carl Harvey introduced Toots to the stage as the band commenced with the classic song Pressure Drop. This set the stage for an 1 hour + Reggae Beach Party including all their classic songs as well as covers of Louie Louie and Take Me Home Country Roads.
View the Slide show for more photos of Toots and the Maytals
Ryan Bingham performs on the Letting Go Stage
View the Slide Show for more photos of Ryan Bingham
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Energize the Boom Boom Tent
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis an indie rap duo from Seattle was one of the top headliners in the Boom Boom Tent. They appeared just two days before the annual Billboard Awards took place where they won a well deserved Best Rap Song award for their Billboard Chart topping song Thriftshop from their 2012 debut album The Heist. Making Billboard Chart History, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are the first duo to take its first two singles to No. 1 in the Hot 100's almost-55-year history (source: Billboard). Also featured on the set was newcomer Wanz who sings the hook on Thriftshop and vocalist Ray Dalton featured on the current Billboard number 1 song Can't hold us Down, just two of the songs performed on this highly entertaining and high energy set in which they entertained their fans with dancers, outfit changes and even crowd surfing with an inflatable whale. Yes, I said an inflatable whale. His loyal fans known as the #SharkFaceGang were still thrilled.
View the Slide Show for more photos of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
#HangoutFest Scenes from Day 1
I discovered that some people have come up with clever ways to find friends. Did I mention that one does not go solo to the Hangout Festival? I saw several flag poles in the crowd adorned with unique tops used as group identifiers and making it a bit easier to find your friends in the crowd.
My favorite was the inflatable cactus decorated with the patriotic flag and buttons.
Hangout Festival Logistics
How to get there: The Gulf Shores location is easily reached from the nearest airports of Pensacola, FL (45 minutes) and Mobile, Alabama (1 hour) Beyond that it is also an easy drive from New Orleans and various key locations in the Southern States. I chose to fly to Atlanta and visit some friends before commencing the 6 hour+ drive to Alabama. Despite missing my exit on route 65 and ending up traveling through Mobile on the way to Gulf Shores, it was still an easy and enjoyable drive. The timing worked out and I managed to witness a magnificent sunset upon my arrival.
Where to stay: Plan early and book a beach side accommodation on the Gulf Shores. The Hangout Festival website had a variety of lodging sites listed. Also nearby is the town of Foley. While it is not beach side, it had a variety of more reasonably priced accommodation choices and was a good proximity to drive just a few miles to one of the multiple Hangout Festival Shuttle locations making it an easy and efficient way to get to the Hangout Festival. Three Day Shuttle Passes were available for $50 and could be purchased online. An EventBrite android app provided me with an electronic ticket in exchange for a Shuttle bracelet.
What to Bring / Wear: It's HOT on the beach. Bring lots of sunscreen, shades, a hat, your swimsuit, towel, smart phone (use the Hangout Fest app to see the schedule and festival map!), cash and credit card/Atm Card. Atms were readily available. Try not to carry too much as you will be walking a lot from stage to stage. No wheels as some of the stages are directly on the sandy beach. Attire of the Hangout Festival Patrons ranged from bikini clad to some pretty outrageous costumes.
All in all , the Hangout Festival was one the most organized and best executed festivals I have attended recently with a steady throng of patrons coming and going throughout the 12 hours of festivities each day. One of the great aspects about the beach boulevard location of the festival is that patrons can come and go as they please after passing thru security each time. This allowed patrons to frequent many of the local business located on the outside of the Hangout Festival. I took advantage of this to take a break each day and sample some great fresh Gulf seafood from some of the well known restaurants in the area.
I'm already looking forward to next year's Hangout Festival Experience and just may have to make those reservations very soon!
A Reflection in Time
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