As a music fan, I could not be more excited to attend this year’s Hangout Festival. I attended one major music festival in my life and that was the final City Stages in 2009, where I only saw Wild Sweet Orange and 38 Special. I was a musical neophyte who had yet to explore the vast ocean of records from the mid-20th century onward. Soon I caught the live music bug and attended as many concerts as I could. My attendance increased when I started reviewing shows, but I still had not gone to any more festivals. I decided to change that this year. For those of you who will be “hanging out” in Gulf Shores with me, here is a list of recommendations from a fellow music lover. In no way is it complete or even “right” for every attendee (in fact, most of these recommendations are between two or three amazing options for each time slot), but this is my two cents.
THURSDAY, MAY 16TH — THE HANGOUT KICKOFF PARTY
St. Paul and the Broken Bones: This Birmingham band has had a colossal year, riding the indie soul wave set up by the explosive Alabama Shakes. They recently opened up for a sold-out crowd at John Mayer’s Tuscaloosa Amphitheater concert and continue to win rave reviews and new fans everywhere that they go. BMI Stage, 3:55-4:20 and 5:00-5:25
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors: Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors is a well-known name in their adopted hometown of Nashville, gradually building their fanbase with several solid releases and exposing themselves to audiences across the nation through heavy touring and song placements on a variety of television shows. They just finished a successful tour with rockers NEEDTOBREATHE, promoting the excellent Good Light. Letting Go Stage, 6:45-7:45
FRIDAY, MAY 17TH
twenty one pilots: Ohio’s rap pop duo has built a steady following over the last three years, starting with 2010’s twenty | one | pilots, but it was last year’s signing to Fueled by Ramen and the release of January’s Vessel, produced by Greg Wells (Adele), that solidified their reputation. Heavy touring has been the name of the game this year and they will make a stop at Hangout 2013. Letting Go Stage, 12:30-1:30
Ra Ra Riot: I saw Ra Ra Riot perform in 2009 when they were promoting The Rhumb Line and it was a spectacular performance. For some reason, I lost touch with the band, but managed to reconnect earlier this year with the recently released, Beta Love, which injects their well-known indie pop with elements of dance and electronica. Boom Boom Tent, 1:30-2:30
Luella and the Sun: Another band with soul-esque influences that has been gaining buzz through touring and internet praise. They have only released a 10’’ single, but their hour-long set suggests they have a host of tunes up their sleeve. BMI Stage, 2:30-3:30
Jim James: He has built his reputation as the frontman of Kentucky’s critically praised My Morning Jacket, but a recent injury and time of recuperation led to the creation of this year’s Regions of Light and Sound of God. Familiar elements abound, but new sonic territory is also explored. Don’t miss this opportunity to see one of the last decade’s most innovative songwriters. Hangout Stage, 3:45-5:00.
Grizzly Bear: Some critics argue that last year’s Shields was not the best followup to the groundbreaking Vecktamist, but I disagree. Besides, Grizzly Bear’s live show is supposed to be one of the best out there. See for yourself. Chevrolet Stage, 5:00-6:15.
The Shins: After a five-year hiatus, James Morrow and company returned with last year’s Port of Morrow, reestablishing themselves as one of indie rock’s favorites. Come watch them cherrypick from an amazing catalog. Hopefully they will all “change” our lives with an invigorating performance of “New Slang”. Chevrolet Stage, 7:30-9:00
Kings of Leon: These guys burst onto the scene with their raucous tribute to Southern rock with Youth and Young Manhood and continued in the same vein with several more releases until reinventing themselves with a slicker produced, yet still completely energized record, Only By The Night, whose singles were all over the radio in 2008 and 2009. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from these guys, so be sure to catch them this weekend. Hangout Stage, 9:00-11:00
SATURDAY, MAY 18TH
Shovels and Rope: They made an appearance at Birmingham’s Secret Stages last year and since then, this country-tinged duo has exploded. Last year’s O’ Be Joyful is one of my favorite records to play on vinyl and I am stoked to see their energetic performance. Hangout Stage, 1:30-2:30
Dirty Projectors: I first heard this orchestral indie rock act through an Uncut compilation in 2009 and was hooked by their beautiful single, “Temecula Sunrise”. Last year’s Swing Lo Magellan explored even more unique sonic territory. Chevrolet Stage, 2:30-3:30.
Gov’t Mule: After playing in one of the South’s best known bands, the Allman Brothers, Warren Haynes and Allen Woody, formed Gov’t Mule and released a string of fantastic albums. They return to the South for Hangout Festival to the delight of fans. Hangout Stage, 3:30-4:45
The Roots: Most people see the Roots as Jimmy Fallon’s house band every weeknight on NBC, but the band has been crafting some fantastic musically-complex hip hop for over ten years. This will be one of the highlights of the festival for me and hopefully you as well. Chevrolet Stage, 4:45-6:00
Kendrick Lamar: One of hip hop’s best kept secrets, Kendrick Lamar has been honing his craft for over a decade. Boom Boom Tent, 6:00-7:15
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: On the Hangout Festival 2013 forum, someone called Petty an “80s has-been”. Sure, the band has not released anything since 2010’s Mojo, but they are legends in American rock, influencing countless musicians regardless of genres. This will be the opportunity of a lifetime. Hangout Stage, 8:45-11:00
SUNDAY, MAY 19TH
Best Coast: Their success started with “Boyfriend” off 2010’s Crazy For You, but last year’s The Only Place won them even more critical and commercial acclaim as a fantastic and fun indie rock act. Chevrolet Stage, 12:15-1:15
GROUPLOVE: The music of LA’s GROUPLOVE draws comparisons to both Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire, two members of indie rock’s royal family. That alone should intrigue audiences to give the band’s live performance a shot. Hangout Stage, 1:15-2:15
Moon Taxi: Another great rock band with Alabama connections, Moon Taxi has been playing anywhere and everywhere over the last six years. A slot at various festivals, including Bonnaroo, suggest there is something to this band and its infectious performances. Letting Go Stage, 2:15-3:15
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Exploding onto the scene with their single “Maps”, audiences were hypnotized by Karen O’s haunting vocals. Some may argue that the band lost something after finding success, but others will agree that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs still stand the test of time. Hangout Stage, 5:15-6:30
Jason Isbell and 400 Unit: This is a tough one for me to recommend since Isbell and his band will be competing against Bloc Party and Trey Anastasio, but I have been on a Truckers kick lately and Isbell’s contributions are stunning. For all of you late-night television fans, the band has connections to David Letterman when drummer Paul Shaffer joined the band onstage in December 2011. BMI Stage, 6:30-7:45
Stevie Wonder: What can you say about Stevie Wonder? Like Petty, he has influenced countless musicians and continues to craft quality tunes that get the masses grooving, regardless of age. This will be an incredible performance and feel free to wish him Happy Birthday as the singer just turned 63 on Monday. Hangout Festival, 8:30-11:00
For the full lineup and schedule, visit http://lineup.hangoutmusicfest.com/ and feel free to follow me on Twitter (@ChrisKDavidson) for updates during the festival and visit www.youhearthis.com for reviews of each day.