Looking at the year’s lineup, it struck certain members of the IN staff, or maybe just one, that there were several examples of male vocalists capable of inducing goose bumps and heart pangs just through the sound of their beautiful, emotive voices. Not because we believe they are actually ethereal winged beings, but because they have the ability to sound pretty otherworldly do we refer to these men as the Angel-Voiced Men of Hangout.
As a native Floridian, I firmly believe Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers are the finest—and maybe only—shining example of rock musicianship incubated and hatched in our state. So maybe I’m a little biased when I say that just as enduring as the band’s over 40-year career is Tom Petty’s still expressive voice, like the smooth Southern angel genius instrument it is. If you doubt it, keep your ears open for inflections in Petty’s voice during “Southern Accents,” “It’ll All Work Out,” or really any of their other slow-jams and see if you don’t feel a little something.
Saturday, 8:45 – 11 p.m., Hangout Stage
A sometimes solo-artist, James usually shows off his vocal range as the front man of My Morning Jacket. In his solo projects and stint with indie-dude super group Monsters of Folk, James tends to quiet it down a little, and really show off the lovely angel sounds his vocal chords are capable of producing. Pretty much any of his recordings may fool you into thinking something heavenly is in your speakers, but tracks “A New Life” or “God’s Love to Deliver”—angel title!—on his recently-released solo album are especially sweet-sounding.
Friday, 3:45 – 5 p.m., Hangout Stage
Indie favorite Grizzly Bear features not one, but two vocally gifted men in Daniel Rossen and Ed Droste. The vocal harmonizing in Grizzly Bear’s work is a trademark of their sound, commonly termed “experimental,” as it utilizes both traditional and electronic instruments. Droste leads on “Two Weeks” and “Yet Again,” Rossen on “While You Wait for the Others” and “Sun in Your Eyes,” all singles they will likely play for the Hangout crowd, and all of which demonstrate that their ethereal voices are absolutely as interesting as the rest of the instrumentation.
Friday, 5 – 6:15 p.m., Chevrolet Stage
Stevie Wonder has been making music for decades, in no small part because his angelic and multi-dimensional voice can move a person to want to cry, dance, smile, or grab a sign and protest. The film adaptation of “High Fidelity” doesn’t end with Wonder’s “I Believe (When I Fall In Love)” not to inspire hope that even the most hopeless characters can get it together, after all. Wonder’s sprawling catalog of love songs (“Knocks Me Off My Feet”) and breakup songs (“It Ain’t No Use”) and everything else, (“Do I Do,” “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” and countless others), all give you that feeling that maybe his vocal chords have some light or angel blessing on them, a perfect voice to close out a weekend full of wonderful sounds.
Sunday, 8:30 – 11 p.m., Hangout Stage
Whether with the Shins or side project Broken Bells, once you’ve heard James Mercer’s voice, you won’t forget it. There is a quality to Mercer’s crooning that resonates understanding, like a bookish angel explaining why your heart is broken. It was not a fluke that everyone went nuts for the Shins after “Garden State”—it was because they could not shake how they felt hearing “New Slang” sung by those golden pipes from Albuquerque (now Portland). “Saint Simon,” “Caring is Creepy” and “Simple Song” are other fine examples of this angel voice’s sonic prowess, and hopefully among those he will share with Gulf Shores.
Friday, 7:30 – 9 p.m., Chevrolet Stage