Amidst the masses of barefoot and suntanned at Hangout was something not always present at a music festival in the summer. A breeze. Not that it wasn’t hot, it was. Just not as unbearably, grotesquely hot as it could have been. The breeze lingered on into the nights too, making the packed out performances of the headliners a little more comfortable for the 35,000 or so that attended.
Alabama Shakes performed at 2:15 p.m., which might have been the hottest part of the day, on Friday, to an enormously full crowd. Although they released their first full-length album only a month ago, Shakes was on everyone’s must see list. Their perfect mix of twang and soul did not disappoint, and before they even played a note the crowd was screaming out “Come on Brittany!” a line from the song “Hold On” they performed live on Conan earlier this year.
M. Ward played the same stage following Alabama Shakes. Ward came out and began singing and strumming his guitar alone, and then slowly each of the band members walked out and picked up their instruments, joining in one by one to play the duration of the set.
Next on the schedule was Wilco. The band played for almost an hour before Jeff Tweedy gave an awkward first address to the crowd. “It’s a nice, um, nice night,” Tweedy said. He warmed up after the first encounter with the audience and said, “This is the closest we’ve ever played to a large body of water. Let’s go get in. Let’s do something together. Let’s sing.” And that’s what the band and the crowd did for the remaining set, through the old and the new songs from Wilco’s catalog ranging back to 1994.
Jack White closed out the festival Friday, making for a rather epic day of music. White first appeared on stage with his all male band, the Buzzards, and launched into “Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground,” as the opening song. The stage with meagerly lit by ghostly blue lights that shined on a blue band playing blue instruments, while three columns of blue fabric were draped elegantly as a backdrop. Mid-set White switched bands and finished the show with the female band, the Peacocks, including country soul singer Ruby Amanfu, who sings with White on his solo album “Blunderbuss.” Songs from many facets of White’s musical career were played, including a Dead Weather song or two, and a plethora of White Stripes favorites. White was grinning and goofing around with the bands. He was bumping into them a little, taunting them with his guitar, and tossing the occasional towel at them—clearly, having a ball.
On Saturday Mac Miller and Skrillex heated up the Xbox tent stage, and pumped the beats out to a raging crowd equipped with face paint, glow sticks and the burning desire to dance, regardless of the intense heat or lack of space.
Randy Newman took the stage at around 2:15 and over the course of his hour or so performance, one could see people making the trek across the sand in a mass pilgrimage to hear him sing comedic songs like “Short People” or
“Birmingham.” When Newman broke into the theme from the Disney Pixar film “Toy Story” an eruption of screams ensued followed immediately by a mass sing along. Newman’s voice was so soulful and eerily unchanged by time that his songs gave goose bumps to many in the crowd, despite the sun beating down.
Gogol Bordello riled the crowd with their strain of gypsy hillbilly rock, and so did Flogging Molly with their Irish punk jams.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers ended Saturday night with a super energetic set that saw lead singer Anthony Kiedis jumping around from start to finish—dancing, singing, hopping, high kicking. Flea was clad in his usual bright blue hair with no shirt and early in the set, chanted, “Forgive your families, forgive your parents,” to the crowd a few times.
Sunday offered a diverse collection of music for festival goers. Early in the day, Big Freedia and the Divas took the stage. The first thing Big Freedia did was have her dancers hype the crowd by shaking their booties in Big Freedia’s very own boy short underwear. After several songs of intense chanting and dancing, Freedia picked several girls from the crowd to come on stage for her song, “Azz Everywhere!” Freedia danced with the girls and offered the crowd a view that definitely won’t be fit to post on the Internet—or, at least not without blocking your immediate family from your Facebook news feed.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros sang to a packed crowd—and in the packed crowd—with the lead singer Alex Ebert jumping from speakers to barricades to the sand, grabbing people’s hands and singing to them.
The Flaming Lips put on an amazing, extravagant, other worldly show, complete with confetti raining on the crowd, girls dressed in Alice in Wonderland costumes, giant hamster balls, blow up dolphins and catfish, and giant balloons filled with money (which were released when the band played a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Money.”) Allegedly the money was real, totaled $10,000 and was gift from fellow festival performer Dave Matthews. All the while, Wayne Coyne was dressed in a ski jacket, a bright silver cape, and gigantic fake furry hand gloves.
Whether or not Matthews did donate money for the cause of The Flaming Lips set, he absolutely performed for several hours as the final act of Hangout Fest this year, providing the perfect soundtrack to relax and reminisce to about the soon ending weekend.