Hangout Fest took place on the beautiful white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, AL this past weekend and had an extensive lineup of artists performing including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paramore, Skrillex, SZA, and Lil Nas X to name a few. Hangout Fest kicks off music festival season and has cemented its status as an annual pilgrimage for high school and college students as well as music fans of all ages, from all over the US, eagerly embracing the freedom of summer break. Timed perfectly, the festival graces us with its presence just as the weather reaches its sweet spot — before the unforgiving southern summer heat engulfs the region.
Pop-Punk Trio Meet Me @ The Altar was the first band of the day to hit the Hangout Stage and brought a sizeable crowd to their performance. The crowd went crazy as they unleashed their rendition of the song “Take Me Away” by the band Lash. The nostalgic anthem, forever etched in the memories of many, gained fame through its inclusion in the iconic 2003 movie Freaky Friday, with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis. The band recently revealed on Tik Tok that they had been in the studio to record a cover of the song. With Jamie Lee Curtis recently confirming that a sequel to the film was in the works, it would be an awesome addition to include Meet Me @ The Altar’s cover for the sequel.
Tove Lo shared some new music with the crowd, performing her newest single “I Like U” set to be released on June 1st. Later in the evening at the Shein Surf Stage, we got our first headlining performance with Lil Nas X. The elaborate stage setup and production was top notch which included a giant snake and even a massive horse that Lil Nas X rode for the song “Old Town Road”. Closing out night one on the Hangout Stage was the legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers. The band took to the stage teasing the crowd with an awesome guitar duel between bassist Flea and guitarist John Frusciante for the intro jam of “Around the World” before lead singer Anthony Keidis hit the mic with his iconic vocals. The band played most of their classic hits including, “Snow (Hey Oh),” “Californication,” “Soul to Squeeze,” and “Give It Away”. Sadly, “Under the Bridge” did not make it in the performance due to time constraints.
Saturday’s lineup went hard and started off strong with Flipturn, Highly Suspect, and Coin. The Maine gave a treat to the crowd as they brought out Charlotte Sands for their collab single “Loved You a Little.” Charlotte herself played shortly after The Maines set at the Mermaid Stage and brought an enormous crowd to the smaller stage. The Shein Surf stage welcomed Pennsylvania native Sabrina Carpenter. Carpenter’s vocal range mixed with her biting and clever lyrics was a clear indication of her talent. The young songstress also did an exceptionally well cover of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”.
Taking the stage to close out the Surf Stage was none other than pop-punk royalty, Paramore. Without a doubt, their performance stood out as the highlight of the entire weekend for me. Lead singer Hayley Williams radiated with boundless energy that kept the crowd in a constant state of excitement, prompting thousands of voices to harmonize with every heartfelt lyric. The band treated us to a comprehensive journey through their discography, effortlessly blending beloved classics like “Misery Business,” “Decode,” and “Ain’t it Fun” with fresh tracks from their latest album, This is Why, such as “Running Out of Time,” and “You First.” Among the most captivating moments was the collective rendition of the tender love ballad, “The Only Exception,” where the entire audience became a choir of emotion. Witnessing the remarkable evolution of this band since their groundbreaking debut album 15 years ago has been nothing short of awe-inspiring.
The final act of the night gracing the Hangout Stage was the mesmerizing SZA. Stepping onto a stage adorned with grandeur, giant screens illuminated the backdrop with captivating water-themed visuals, while stage props reminiscent of a bustling dockyard added a touch of theatricality. Despite facing sinus issues, the singer humbly apologized to the crowd, expressing her unwavering commitment to delivering a memorable performance for her dedicated fans. The audience, however, remained blissfully unaware of any hindrance as SZA effortlessly delivered an extraordinary performance, pouring her heart and soul into every moment of the set. Her talent and dedication shone through, creating an atmosphere of pure enchantment that lingered long after the final notes faded away.
Day three greeted us with a delightful touch of cloud coverage, a welcomed respite luckily without a drop of rain. It was the perfect time to explore the festival grounds. Year after year, Hangout Fest showcases its exceptional ability to cater to its audience, going above and beyond with captivating and interactive sponsorship activations. One such highlight was the Malibu Beach House, an oasis of fun and excitement, complete with DJ sets, photo booths, and an airbrush pop-up, where attendees could acquire a complimentary, personalized airbrushed bandana. And, of course, no Hangout Fest experience would be complete without the ever-popular Roller Disco, a perennial hotspot that allows festivalgoers a little escape from the bustling crowd that is making their way to the stages.
The first music act I caught of the day was Beach Weather whose name is very apropos considering the festival location. I’ll admit that I had never listened to them prior to this performance but I became an instant fan hearing their catchy riffs and smooth mellow lyrics. There were immense crowds for Yung Gravy, Mayday Parade, and The Kid Laroi’s sets. The night escalated into an electrifying finale as two titans in the electronic music realm took over the main stages. Skrillex on the Surf Stage unleashed a monster performance with pulsating beats, extreme visuals, and enough pyro to light up the night sky. Shortly after, Calvin Harris closed out the Hangout Stage playing all the hits including his collab with Rhianna on “We Found Love” as well as the Dua Lipa collab song “One Kiss” and closing out the night with the song “Miracle”.