This is long overdue, but it took some time to snap back to reality after spending an unreal few days at the Gulf Shores for Hangout Festival 2019. I didn’t know what to expect from a music festival in the middle of Alabama during a…let’s just say tumultuous political climate, but it was nothing short of a much-needed escape. The beach, the music, the PUPPIES, and the surprise Jimmy Buffett/Kygo collab that I never knew I needed really separated Hangout from the rest. Let’s do a quick highlight reel for those who missed out:
- Favorite Set: Judah & The Lion without. a. doubt. The Fest Life fam have been big Judah fans for a while, and their high-energy set was just what we needed to start the day. Armed with a new album and a crowd-surfing lead singer, Judah left it all on the stage. 10 minutes after they finished I found myself buying tickets to their current tour, and I suggest you all do the same.
- Biggest Surprise: Gotta be Jimmy Buffett seemingly appearing out of the ocean during Kygo’s set. It was a spiritual experience that I was lucky enough to be front row for and I will never forget it. Long live Margaritaville.
- Best Experience: tie between hanging in the ocean at the Corona beach tent and the puppy kissing booth. The tinder roller rink was also pretty cool, unfortunately there were always too many soon-to-be fest couples skating for me to have my chance at finding my Tinderella.
- Cry-worthy moments: Hozier’s entire set, Kygo’s Avicii tribute, and KJ Apa (yes, that guy from Riverdale) coming out during Walk The Moon’s set to film a movie scene. I’m embarrassed about 1/3 of these moments, I’ll let you guess which one is which.
- Best Undercard Performance: Two Friends put on an insanely fun show to kick off the last day of the festival. If you haven’t used one of their Big Bootie mixes to pregame to, you’ve been throwing some pretty lame pregames.
I’m also going to take a second to acknowledge the Alabama-sized elephant in the room: abortion. Calling this a “hot topic” would be an understatement, and I have to give credit to the number of artists who took time out of their performances to speak up. Walk The Moon, Travis Scott, The Lumineers, and Hozier all donated a portion of what they made at Hangout to causes such as Planned Parenthood and the Yellowhammer Fund – and that’s just out of the acts I was there to see. Countless others took time out of their set to talk about this issue, with The 1975 quoted saying “the reason I’m so angry is because I don’t believe [the law] is about the preservation of life, I believe it’s about the controlling of women.” It was refreshing to see so many people come together and use their platform to raise awareness about how far backward our country is falling in certain areas where we should be progressing. Don’t worry, I’ll stop being heavy now.
From top to bottom, I thought Hangout Festival was a huge success. It was logistically well planned out, down to the port-o-potties, which all FLUSHED. That may not sound like anything special, but if you’ve been around the festival block, you can appreciate how life-changing a good flushing toilet is. The variety of music kept my days so packed that my only regret was not having enough time to experience more of the amenities at the festival because I was too busy running (if you could call tripping over myself in the sand running) from stage to stage. I never thought I’d say this…but I can’t wait to go back to Alabama next year and it’s all thanks to Hangout.