Pensacola, Florida
Thursday April 19th 2018


Hangout Festival: A Weekend Retrospective

By Hana Frenette

Hula hoopers, college kids, parents, grandparents. People walking around in Jesus and devil costumes. Hangout Fest drew a large cast of characters and exceeded expectations across the board.
This was only the second year for Hangout Fest, and it managed to sell out at 35,000 people a day. That’s a lot of people when you’re waiting in line for a hot dog. Despite the size of the crowds and the initial first day slowdowns, I rarely waited more than five or ten minutes in any kind of line, whether it was for the ATM, bathrooms or food.
As far as festival food goes, Hangout’s wasn’t bad. Most festivals seem like they require some serious withdrawal from your life savings in order to eat all weekend, but Hangout seemed pretty reasonable. A hot dog and fries was about $6, while other things like teriyaki chicken, shrimp po’ boys and gyros ranged from $8-$12. And for the festival princess, iced coffee, frozen mochas and caramel lattes were available for $5.
The food and the people watching added a nice bonus to the weekend, but when it comes down to it, the actual performances needed no compensation. Despite the heat, the crowds were excited for every performance I caught, and the bands followed suit.
I’ll probably never see as many excited, sweaty, dancing people under one tent as I saw for Girl Talk—which may or may not be a good thing. Even the security guards were bustin’ a move and singing along to the mixes, especially a Jay-Z/Pixies mash up.
The Flaming Lips put on an amazing show, as they have many times in the past, including confetti-filled balloons, smoke machines and two crews of dancing girls dressed like they were straight out of “Alice in Wonderland.” Toward the end of the set, The Flaming Lips had a giant lit-up screen that was playing video, and the band was appearing through a door in the center of the screen and walking out toward the crowd.
The same day as their performance was apparently rumored to be the day of the rapture, and I must have heard at least 15 mesmerized people say, “Dude, what if Jesus walks out of that screen next?” With the quality of the show, he just might have.
Dead Confederate, Minus the Bear, Bassnectar, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Old Crow Medicine Show all put on great shows, as well as every other band I saw or heard from a distance. I heard not one complaint, and I have none to give—except maybe Cee-Lo Green, who showed up late and might as well not have come at all based on the short set time and the bad vocals. But even that negative got turned into a positive by the Foo Fighters, who played a bonus cover set to fill the gap and won everybody over with their energy and humble attitude.
At the end of the festival on Sunday night, I asked about 100 people at random to describe Hangout in one or two words, and the most popular answer by far was “awesome.” It was definitely worth every penny of the $179 ticket price. If you didn’t get the chance to go, start saving now. I’m pretty sure next year will be even better.