Graduation season along the Gulf Coast ushers in significant events annually. As the celebrations are being planned for high school and college graduates alike, we begin to experience the first days of summer with beautiful weather as it remains cool enough not to need an IV drip everywhere you go. Inevitably during this time southerners and tourists from around the country are drawn to the sun-soaked white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores and it isn’t just the sun and weather doing so. One of the biggest draws for the early part of the summer along the Gulf Coast is the annual Hangout Music Fest.

 This year was no different and music fans along with beautiful weather descended upon the beaches that line the coast, May 17th-19th, 2024.  Hangout consistently boasts some of the biggest names in music every summer. Zach Bryan, Lana Del Rey, and ODESZA were the powerhouses chosen to headline the festival on their respective days. Longtime fan favorites like The Chainsmokers, A Day to Remember, Cage the Elephant, Nelly, and All Time Low performed during the daytime on packed beaches. There were also newcomers looking to make their marks as someone’s new favorite addition to their favorite performer or streaming playlist like Chappell Roan, Renee Rapp, Sexxy Red, and Megan Moroney. 

One of the things I love most about Hangout Fest is its constant innovation and evolution. This year, the festival unveiled several exciting new features. The Boom Stage was relocated from the street to the beach, taking the place of last year’s Surf Stage, and was upgraded with additional production elements. The VIP area was expanded to offer more shaded lounge spaces, improved stage views, and enhanced bar services. Additionally, the brand-new Shoreline Stage, presented by Malibu Rum, provided a unique experience as the only stage with the Gulf of Mexico as its backdrop, offering stunning views through the stage to the water. The festival also made a practical improvement by replacing the roller-skating rink with a much-needed covered dining pavilion. Every single change is with the fans in mind.


Friday kicked off the festival under overcast skies, which kept temperatures cool as festivalgoers explored the grounds and familiarized themselves with the layout for the weekend. The day featured several standout performances, including Canadian rock band The Beaches on the picturesque Shoreline Stage and pop-punk metalcore outfit A Day to Remember, who brought the energy with circle pits at the Hangout Main Stage. Dominic Fike was a clear fan favorite, with the crowd erupting in screams as soon as he hit the stage.

But the undisputed highlight of Friday was the performance by the queen herself, Lana Del Rey. Despite a 20-minute delay rumored to be due to medical emergencies in the crowd, her entrance was well worth the wait. Massive LED screens flanked the Hangout Stage, showing video of Lana and her dancers riding down the beach on ATVs to the tune of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” She greeted fans along the front rail before taking the stage to deliver an unforgettable performance filled with surprises.

Even with her set cut short due to the delay, Lana managed to perform all her hits, including “Summertime Sadness,” “Born to Die,” “Video Games,” and “Chemtrails Over the Country Club.” The crowd went wild when she brought out surprise guests like Tommy Genesis to perform “Peppers,” Benson Boone for his hit “Beautiful Things,” Nessa Barrett for “American Jesus,” and Jelly Roll to close with the festival’s traditional finale, “Sweet Home Alabama.” Friday delivered such an incredible day of music that I eagerly anticipated what the rest of the weekend had in store.


Saturday began with storms in the area, causing a slight delay in opening the gates, but fortunately, no sets were canceled. The first act of the day, which  I had eagerly anticipated turned out to be my favorite set of the entire weekend: Chappell Roan. The moment she and her band took to the stage in football jerseys and gear, I knew I was in for a wild ride. The crowd was equally enthusiastic, with many fans sporting pink cowboy hats in homage to the “Pink Pony Club” singer. It was truly a sight to see thousands of fans engaging in the interactive call-and-response hit “HOT TO GO!” Even the security guards in the photo pit joined in, participating in the catchy cheerleader-esque dance having them spell out the letters with arm gestures.

Other highlights of the day included Cage the Elephant, whose frontman Matt Shultz lept off the stage to run down the center aisle of the pit, while his brother and guitarist Brad Shultz came off the stage to play guitar among the crowd. Rapper Qveen Herby was a standout surprise performance, impressing with her unique style and commanding stage presence. The evening culminated with a spectacular performance from ODESZA complete with pulsating drumlines, dazzling pyrotechnics, lasers, and beautiful fireworks –the essentials for an epic EDM experience and they absolutely delivered.  


Come Sunday, not a trace of rain lingered, replaced by a stunning azure sky. It was fitting that the pop-punk legends, All Time Low, opted to serenade the crowd with a rendition of Hoku’s iconic summer anthem, “Perfect Day” from the early 2000s. Guitarist Jack Barakat himself couldn’t resist the call of beach vibes, spontaneously dashing off stage with his guitar to dip his toes into the VIP pool, still seamlessly playing along to their set.

Shortly after their set, I raced across the beach to the Boom Stage, as I didn’t want to miss the president herself, Sexyy Red. By the time I had waded through the massive crowd and had gotten to the stage, the heat was catching up with me. Not just me, the heat had gotten to Sexxy Red’s DJ too as his computer overheated causing a delay. Computer problems didn’t kill the vibe though and as soon as Sexyy properly hit the stage, fans went absolutely feral for her.

The party was just getting started because shortly after her set, the Hangout stage brought out Nelly for a nostalgic trip into everyone’s club days. You really don’t realize how many hits Nelly has until you are watching his performance and it’s just back-to-back bangers.  However, it was Megan Moroney’s performance on the Shoreline Stage that stole the show for me. As the sun descended, casting a natural spotlight on the stage, Megan’s beautiful voice and witty, tongue-in-cheek lyrics made me an instant fan. Though not typically a listener of country music, I found myself instantly drawn to this self-proclaimed “Emo Cowgirl.” Remaining until the end of her set proved to be a wise decision, as she surprised everyone by inviting Lana Del Rey to join her in singing her hit song “Tennessee Orange”. The weekend was bookended by Grammy award-winning Country artist, Zach Bryan, the perfect end to a music weekend on the beautiful beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama.