Hangout Fest Heats Up Gulf Shores Again With Epic Lineup and Insane Crowd Energy
It was a pleasure to return to Gulf Shores last weekend for another epic year of Hangout Fest and while it was definitely hot and humid, the lack of torrential rain on the final day was really a cherry on top as compared to last year. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was more accustomed to the festival this year or if there was just something in the water, but I had way more fun this year. I think it was a mix of the lineup being as outstanding as it was – I was able to check off some bucket list artists – and the energy of the crowd, despite the heat, was off the charts and that made for some really awesome moments throughout the weekend.
This multi-genre lineup brought some of the biggest artists from across the genres of hip-hop, R&B, EDM, house music, indie, and rock to four main stages spread across the venue. There was also a 5th stage at Jose Cuervo Express that hosted producers and DJs who would head over there after their main sets were complete. With so many artists performing and so many genres being represented, there was truly something for everyone at all hours of the event and it was awesome seeing how many different ages of fans were at each set.
On day 1, I came into the venue to the sounds of Tove Lo finishing up her set at the Hangout Stage and then found myself splitting the next hour between Two Feet and Mike., both of whom had very different vibes but similar energies on stage. Russ was highly talked about act, but I found myself over at ALUNA to enjoy some house music, which currently has my heart. Gryffin had an incredible set that had so many people in the crowd jumping around and singing along, and his set was the first I saw of the day that had CO2 cannons, sparklers, and flames to add some pizzazz to the experience. Thundercat performed at a smaller-than-expected stage, so of course that was filled to the brim, and Louis The Child brought their playground set to the Hangout Stage, which they graced for a closing set last year. Lil Nas X was one of my most anticipated sets of the weekend and I’m happy to report that he did not disappoint. From the stage design to the outfit choices to the precise choreography, Lil Nas X truly put on a show and, of course, the crowd went crazy when he performed “Old Town Road.” Red Hot Chili Peppers closed out the night, demonstrating their dynamic stage interactions and presence.
I will go on record to say that I had the most fun on Saturday. I was still getting my bearings on Friday and pretty exhausted on Sunday (also probably because I danced around a lot on Saturday), but I think the lineup on day 2 was the best in terms of party energy and I definitely felt that from the crowd as well. There were moments throughout the day when the excitement and joy from attendees were so palpable that it was infectious and put a smile on my face, as well as many of the other photographers that I saw in the photo pits – one of them being when a Taylor Swift song was playing during the changeover before Sabrina Carpenter and the whole crowd was singing along. My personal favorite set of the weekend just so happened to be on Saturday – I stayed in the photo pit for probably 2 minutes during Flume and then had to run out to be in the crowd so I could dance around. His set was so much fun and by the end, I couldn’t tell if I was sweating from dancing or just from the humidity…being realistic, it was both. Prior to that, I loved the energy that Big Wild had on stage and was pleasantly surprised by AJR. I don’t listen to much non-electronic music, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who reads my posts, so I genuinely had no idea that AJR would be such an awesome time and how much their interaction with the crowd would add to the experience. I caught a little bit of Nostalgix and loved to see how massive her crowd was – I also put my camera down for a lot of her set so I could dance. Closing out the night with SZA and an insane firework show that went on for probably 10+ minutes was the best possible way to end that night.
Sunday vibes were totally day 3 festival vibes. The heat definitely caught up to me, but there were still so many awesome acts to catch that I was able to power through (shout-out Pedialyte) while the sun was still out, and then was able to fully enjoy myself once the night fell. Honeyluv and Rossy kicked off the female electronic powerhouse acts for the day. Said The Sky had us in our feels early on and Noah Kahan was another act from the weekend that I enjoyed without having known what I was getting myself into. I’ve listened to Gashi before, but only when he’s been a feature on songs, so I was pretty pleased with his set as well – he had a fun time making fun of himself while making the rest of us laugh. I caught a tiny bit of Mayday Parade but ended up catching more of Ashnikko, who I’ve seen before but only so briefly, and thought she had one of the most interesting and eclectic performances of the weekend. Then going from The Kid Laroi into Skrillex into Calvin Harris…what an awesome way to close out the weekend. Skrillex was another one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend and he 100% delivered. He opened with an event-customized remix of “Rumble” and dropped an updated remix of “Cinema” into “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.” I packed up my camera gear for most of Calvin Harris and watched the fireworks show on my way out of the venue, and getting to dance around to such a legendary set…I really don’t think there was a better way to finish off the weekend.
Thank you, Hangout Fest, for having us out for another year. I had such a wonderful time and absolutely loved the energy from the crowd – it certainly kept me going throughout the weekend. It was a pleasure seeing so many familiar faces from the previous year and seeing so many new faces, and I hope everyone is fully recovered by now and ready for the summer 2023 festival season!