Posted: 11:54 am Friday, June 9th, 2017
By Kyle Taylor
Hangout Festival, nestled on the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama, is sure to provide one of the most unique festival experiences in the world. Throw in a top notch lineup, good friends, and the start of summer vacation, and it’s sure to provide memories not to be forgotten. I had the privilege of attending this year’s festival for the first time, and quite frankly, outside of Lollapalooza, it was the best festival I have ever been to. Below are some of the best moments of the weekend.
Mumford & Sons
They have quickly become professional headliners. Much of their 2017 tour is built around festival appearances, and I don’t mind that. They are too awesome of a live act to be paraded around the country into concrete amphitheaters in the middle of nowhere. Rather they strategically pick their appearances and leave nothing on the table. They were as good as I’ve ever seen them at Hangout Festival, and they’re only getting better.
Chance the Rapper
This performance was a breath of fresh air, but nonetheless intense at the same time. Chance the Rapper is leading a renaissance in both hip hop and the music business alike. To a layman, his performance goes a little something like this: part gospel revival, part commencement speech, part Kanye, part coloring book Chance the Rapper, part old school mix tape style Chance the Rapper, part jazz concert, and a little bit of everything in between. Chance the Rapper has a vision for himself and his fans and has since day one. His openness, honesty, and dedication the his craft are inspiring, and he and his band do a fabulous job of making you feel that.
One of the coolest aspects of Hangout were the rather lengthy sets no matter the time. It’s unusual to see an artist who is performing before sun down getting over an hour. Local Natives took full advantage of their one-hour-and-15-minute-long set and drew an impressive crowd despite an early set time (2:30pm). They are one of those bands who is almost better live. I heard someone next to me say in complete awe, “Wow, these guys are great! I wished I had known about them earlier.” Well, you’ve been missing out, because Local Natives have quietly become one of the best indie acts out there. You have to see them live to fully appreciate their talent and instrumentation.
Lewis Del Mar
This experimental alt rock act does not belong with the other middle of the bill artists for much longer. They first gained the attention of Columbia Records with the viral internet success of “Loud(y)”. They then gained the attention of the music fans world wide, after propelling that song to commercial radio airwaves and releasing an LP last October. Their experimental sound is unique to none other, incorporating Latin rhythms, electronic beats, synth noise samples, acoustic guitars, and percussion. Their live performance further exemplifies their uniqueness, something that will propel them to the top of lineups in the years to come. They don’t quite sound or look like anyone else, nor should they.
I just labeled her as one of the best sets at Shaky Knees Festival prior to Hangout Festival, and, well, nothing has changed in the week since those performances. Most people know of her because of her wildly popular single “River”, but Bishop Briggs is much more than a one hit wonder. In fact, that isn’t the most enjoyable song of her live set, which really is a testament to her presence. Think of the stage presence of Florence Welch but dressed like she’s going to a My Chemical Romance concert, singing lyrics as deep as Twenty One Pilots but with the pop energy of a Lorde, and you have Bishop Briggs. She’s a unique blend of darkness mixed with youthful exuberance, that makes it hard not to like her.
It’s almost as if they wrote their newest hit song, “Feels Like Summer”, with Hangout Festival in mind. While they’re albums are all over the place in terms of genre, Weezer’s live set was tightly packed with non-stop hits, designed perfectly for the early evening beach side setting and those who only know the hits. This was definitely the highlight of the day for many fans, as the only other alternative rock band playing later than them was Phoenix, who nonetheless put on a great show as well. Most of the crowd wasn’t even born at the time of Weezer’s inception, but the fact that so many showed up ready to sing along proves the power of Weezer’s legacy.
With appearances at numerous festivals this summer and a new album on the way, the French indie rockers are beginning to transform into professional headliners. They have some work to do in regards to building a bigger US fan base, as their Friday night headlining slot at Hangout Festival was one of the smallest crowds on that stage of the entire weekend. Those who weren’t there, either because they didn’t know Phoenix or were too upset about the cancellation of Frank Ocean (who Phoenix replaced last minute), missed out on a flawless set.
Joshua Ostrander’s new brand of music, otherwise known as Mondo Cozmo, is beginning to grow on me. After first hearing “Shine” on the radio, I wasn’t sold. The bold rock stylings, hip-hop elements, Bruce Springsteen-esque grittiness, and Bob Dylan-inspired folksiness combine to make a unique sound, one you either like or don’t like. Whether he does or not, Ostrander appears to carry himself with a chip on his shoulder. He’s been at it for well over a decade and is just starting to receive national recognition. This makes for the perfect blend of a give-no-f**ks -but-yet-grateful-at-the-same-time sort of attitude. There’s an earthy, gritty, and pure element to him that I can’t quite pinpoint, but I like it nonetheless.