Hangout Music Festival: Looking Back on Our Favorite Moments

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This weekend, the Paste staff will embark on what’s become an annual trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama to take in the sounds and sun at Hangout Music Festival. With a lineup that boasts appearances from Foo Fighters, Beck, My Morning Jacket, Zac Brown Band and many more to look forward to, we decided to take a look back at some of our favorite moments from Hangout Festival in previous years. Check them out below, and get your tickets to Hangout Music Festival here.

10. Xavier Rudd (2011)
The multi-intrumentalist graces this year’s lineup once again, but we caught up with him backstage for a performance of “Love Comes and Goes.”

9. Michael Franti & Spearhead (2010)
Michael Franti didn’t really do anything all that different in 2010 than he and his band have been doing for most of the past decade, especially on the festival circuit. But it’s time we pointed out Franti’s role as the Apostle of the life-affirming rock party. His dreadlocked, kinda-hippie, soul-folk-rock outfit has a knack for spreading joy to the audience, even when those in the crowd aren’t necessarily familiar with his music. When he invited dozens of children from the crowd onto the stage for dancing during Alabama’s terrific Hangout Festival, he gave each of them and their parents a special memory—only topped by his 15-minute full-band, unplugged, post-show epilogue in the middle of the audience, taking the joy to eye level. —Nick Purdy

8. Diarrhea Planet
“We’ve got two more songs for you. One is a new one, and the other one is a very important one.” The “very important” song that Diarrhea Planet wowed their ever-expanding crowd with at the Palladia Stage on Saturday was OutKast’s “Hey Ya.” It was fantastic, of course, but what’s most important at a Diarrhea Planet show is the Diarrhea Planet material, during which the band’s four—yes, four—guitarists absolutely shred. They shred while playing behind their backs or with their teeth. They shred while climbing monitors. They shred while crowdsurfing inside an inner tube designed to look like a Simpsons donut. They were the perfect way to kick off the day on Saturday, even if it meant nothing else could top them later. —Bonnie Stiernberg

7. The Weeks (2013)
This Nashville by-way-of Mississippi band always puts on a show, and in 2013 photographer Kristen Blanton tagged along with the guys at Hangout to document what would ultimately become one small part of a huge upswing for the band. Check out her images here, and get a taste of the kind of live chops these guys have by checking out this December 2014 performance in Nashville.

5. Mavis Staples (2012)
It was obvious Mavis Staples wasn’t a local. After a fan yelled out “Roll Tide!” during her set, she mistakenly assumed that was the name of the city she was in—but what could have been a cringeworthy moment instead came off as endearing, and Staples more than redeemed herself with her cover of The Band’s “The Weight,” after which she paid tribute to her recently deceased friend Levon Helm. —Bonnie Stiernberg

4. Old Crow Medicine Show
Old Crow Medicine Show  can turn any setting into a party, and their set at 2011’s show wasn’t any different. For a quick glimpse into what the guys are capable of, check out their backstage performance of “Alabama Gals,” a fitting title to perform at the festival.

3. The Avett Brothers
It’s hard to narrow down a single favorite performance from this North Carolina band of brothers at Hangout Fest. We’ll just say all of them have been favorites, and leave you with this video of the band performing “Slight Figure of Speech” backstage in 2011.

2. The Foo Fighters with Cee Lo Green (2011)
Ten minutes past Cee Lo Green’s scheduled set time, the stage remained empty, save a few guys sound-checking some guitars. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I know that guitar,” I said to my friend. “I know that guitar; that’s Dave Grohl’s guitar.” Finally, some guy wandered out; hesitating, he approached the mic. His words were barely decipherable, but the message was clear. “We had a problem, and Cee Lo Green, forget you! The Foo Fighters are here!” Sure enough, Grohl and the Foo Fighters sauntered on to the stage. The crowd exploded as I began running as close as possible. “Looks like we’re playing two shows today,” Grohl said. “Let’s make this one fun.”

The Foos smashed through an awesome covers set, starting off with Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” followed by Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” and Tom Petty’s “Breakdown.” However, the moment of the festival came a minute later. “We actually really like Cee Lo Green,” Grohl said. “Because if he were here, I’d hope that he’d sing it with us.” They broke into “Darling Nikki,” the raunchy, rambunctious Prince song that popped up on the Foos’ 2011 Record Store Day covers album Medium Rare. A verse later, Cee Lo appeared, draped in a red and black track suit. Cee Lo on stage, backed by Grammy award-winning headliners Foo Fighters, singing a song by a rock legend. It was definitely the moment of the festival. —Bo Moore

1. Stevie Wonder (2013)
I guess, yes, technically there was more than one artist who performed on Sunday at Hangout Fest 2013. But then Stevie Wonder took the stage and made us forget about everything else we’d seen that day.

Wonder played for two-and-a-half hours during his headlining set and didn’t once let up. The legendary Motown singer’s pipes remain pristine—he still hit the same high notes on “For Once in My Life” as a 63 year old that he did at age 18. Wonder made sure to squeeze as much material into the set as possible, playing shorter versions of many songs to make room for hits like “Higher Ground,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” “Living for the City” “Sir Duke” and “Part-Time Lover.” He’s certainly got more than enough original material to fill up all his time, but Wonder also worked a good amount of covers into the set, including Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” a stunning version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and a reworked version of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper.”

Wonder also led the crowd in an impromptu sing-along of his Paul McCartney duet “Ebony and Ivory” (“My man’s not here right now—I think he’s probably in England somewhere,” he cracked). He frequently instructed audience members to repeat after him and built harmonies by dividing the crowd into male and female voices.

The hits were all there (Wonder closed with an absolutely wicked-sounding “Superstition”), but perhaps what was most affecting was the obvious joy Wonder still gets from performing and the way his music touches even those closest to him. He took a break during the set to tell the story of his daughter Aisha Morris (who sings back-up for him) and her fiance’s recent engagement and dedicated “Isn’t She Lovely?”—which he originally penned to celebrate her birth—to the couple. Morris had to pause mid-song to wipe away tears.

Wonder himself was overcome with emotion at one point: “My mother was born in Alabama,” he told the Gulf Shores crowd before choking up. “Back in her day, they didn’t have any interest in black people in Alabama—they thought they were nothing, so I just want to thank you all so much for giving me the means to make her comfortable in her final years.” Many in the crowd shed tears of their own as he stood near the edge of the stage and wept, soaking up the audience’s cheers of support, finally flashing a grin and saying “OK, enough of that” and carrying on with the show. —Bonnie Stiernberg

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