After Foo Fighters, Spoon, Umphrey’s McGee and many others helped kick off the 2015 Hangout Festival, the Gulf Shores, AL event came to a close last night after two full days of performances on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday was led by a strong undercard, as Houston, TX rockers The Suffers impressed before many were even out of bed, much less on the festival grounds. The same can be said about Elliot Root and Toro y Moi, all of whom played early on in the day. The centerpiece of the day came in the mid-afternoon, when Nashville rockers Jeff the Brotherhood hit the stage, signaling the start of several hours of can’t-miss artists that also included The Districts, Talib Kweli and Future Islands.
Engaging vocalist Samuel T Herring and the Greenville, NC outfit felt right at home on the beach, with Herring repeatedly name-checking towns in the region. Future Islands have become a mainstay on the festival circuit, thanks in part to Herring’s ability to completely mesmerize a crowd with his intense performances. In between passionate renditions of tunes like “Seasons (Waiting On You)” and the newer “The Chase,” Herring also dished out some life advice, telling the stories behind each song the band played. All in all, it made for a captivating performance, one of the best of the day and weekend.
As the Saturday night festivities came to a close, after Zac Brown Band awkwardly plotted their way through a disjointed headlining set and Major Lazer attacked the Boom Boom Tent following a massive crowd on the beach for Skrillex, it was Father John Misty that had everyone talking.
“Skrillex is playing right now, so that reduces the possibility of anyone in this crowd fist-pumping by a lot,” J Tillman said as he acknowledged his noisy DJ counterpart playing a few football fields away. Tillman was in great spirits and engaged the crowd with his banter as well as his stellar material, mostly from his latest I Love You, Honeybear. During “Bored in the USA,” Tillman encouraged everyone standing side-stage to join him. That included Strand of Oaks, members of Drive-By Truckers and many other musicians who were performing that weekend. “These guys need jobs,” Tillman joked afterwards.
Loose, witty banter like that and a flare for the unknown and dramatic adorned the crowd to the former Fleet Foxes member. He closed the set with a singalong on “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” and the high-energy “The Ideal Husband” and “Everyman Needs a Companion.” The set lasted just 14 songs, spanning his allotted time, but it was clear that Tillman and his band set themselves apart from everyone else performing that day.
Sunday brought fans and musicians one step closer to the finish line, with another exciting schedule of music on tap. Muscle Shoals artist firekid felt right at home, performing to a familiar crowd early on in the day. There was truly something for everyone on the final day, as the contrasting sounds of Rubblebucket and Misterwives filled the air, along with a relentless main stage set from British singer-songwriter Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls.
A standout later on in the day was Nashville indie rockers Colony House, who proved far too large for the small BMI Stage. The quartet attracted the local crowd with their heavy-duty rock and roll. Even a gentlemen in a Phish summer tour shirt could be seen dancing along and singing to every song.
The BMI Stage housed some of the day’s best performances, as The Lone Bellow also stood out later on in the night. Supporting their latest Then Came the Morning, the Brooklyn trio wrapped up their tour on the beach with a bevy of new tunes like the title track “Watch Over Us,” “Diners” and others, as well as with foot-stomping sing-alongs from their first album like “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold.”
As the finale approached, it was up to My Morning Jacket and Beck to wrap the festival up the right way. Thankfully for all in attendance, both were more than up for the task. MMJ frontman Jim James didn’t say much during the band’s set, opting for a thumbs up, but he still controlled the crowd with every move, as did the rest of the band. Supporting The Waterfall, Jacket was in no rush to get through their set as they calmly eased into the 14-song effort with the single “Believe (Nobody Knows),” “Compound Fracture,” “Circuital” and the album’s title track.
Things took a turn when the band launched into “Off the Record,” igniting the throng gathered before them. That led into a spirited rendition of “Phone Went West” and the newer “Big Decisions.” Ultimately, Jacket would get to the hits as they closed the set with a four-song run of “Victory Dance,” “Wordless Chorus,” “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2” and “One Big Holiday.”
Due to the cancellation of Sam Smith’s appearance, Beck’s headlining set was the only performance of the weekend that went unopposed. With that, the singer did what he did best and threw a beach party, as he called it. “Something special is happening tonight,” the charismatic Beck said a few songs into his 20-song set. Something special was indeed happening as Beck strayed from supporting his stellar Morning Phase in order to stay predominately electric. He would mix in “Blue Moon” towards the end of the set, which felt appropriate for the setting.
In the end, Beck played a total of five songs from Guero, as well as rarities like “Soldier Jane.” Microphone in hand, Beck stalked around the stage preaching to the crowd during “Sexx Laws” and a lengthy narrative during “Debra.” Moments like that showed just how loose and comfortable the frontman was in front of the biggest crowd of the weekend. For the grand finale of “Where It’s At/One Foot in the Grave,” Beck introduced everyone in his band with each taking a solo, leading to brief renditions of “The Message,” The Stones’ “Miss You” and “Whip It.” The show, and weekend, culminated in a rousing “E-Pro” before Beck and his band bid the grateful crowd farewell.