Thursday Pre-Party at Hangout Fest 2016 with Lil Dicky, Matt & Kim

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Humidity, Diversity and Live Entertainment in Gulf Shores

The Hangout Music Festival returned to Gulf Shores, Alabama for a weekend of sun, fun and big beats on the beach. Weather on Thursday provided an overcast and temperatures in the ’70s.

Each year, the festival hosts a Pre-Party on Thursday to give guests a chance to experience live entertainment before the main three days of music.

Matt & Kim, Big Freedia, Lil Dicky, Moon Taxi, and a group of musicians joined together to provide single sets of their best material at Hangout Fest 2016.

Teddy and I arrived onsite on Thursday around 6:30 p.m. Moon Taxi was covering Rage Against the Machine in the Boom Boom Tent. Their live re-edition of the music was fitting with the recent news that the band would be going on tour with fill-ins for the lead singer. We walked around the festival grounds to see if any changes had been made.

One of the biggest draws of the weekend was ironically booked on Thursday night. Lil Dicky continues to draw heat and buzz with every festival performance he conducts. He should have had a headlining spot on one of the main days at the event.

Lil Dicky at Hangout Fest

Lil Dicky at Hangout Fest 2016. Photo by: Matthew McGuire

This marked my first time seeing Lil Dicky live in concert. It was more comical than inspiring. He is very entertaining on stage. After dropping his pants and dancing all over a diehard fan, one could say that LD has no limits.

When I compare his set to the 2013 Macklemore & Ryan Lewis set, I find that he is still majorly undeveloped as an artist. The festival should have had Macklemore back this year. It was a major flaw in the booking to bring Calvin Harris on board.

On one hand, I am happy to see LD get booked though. He is currently an independent artist. I respect independent artists far more than artists being backed by the three major music labels. It is so much easier to get noticed when your music is being played on major radio, in movies and shopping centers. People assume those acts have talent because they made it to radio, but the truth is usually the exact opposite. I find Macklemore to be the most successful artist of this generation for not having to compromise to the music industry and still get his work out to millions of people.

Thursday also had Matt & Kim headline in the Boom Boom Tent. They are also one of the stronger independent acts on the music scene right now. A common trend with the Hangout Music Festival is to book the bigger independent acts on Thursday. They have done this for a few years now. It would be interesting to book a major label artist on Thursday, and give more opportunities for artists to grow on a main stage Friday through Sunday.

Another trend that needs to expand is booking more international acts as headliners. I counted all the headliners over the past seven years, and the festival has had one black group, (OutKast), The Weeknd is mixed, but besides that the headliners have been all caucasian. We need more diversity, independent artists and less watered down white people with little talent on stage. When the people making the decisions have little talent/experience, it reflects in the entire community. Just read the Facebook comments. I’m not being harsh, this is a reflection from the people in the community. Several people have commented that some the booking staff should be fired. I think they should have to work under festival organizers in Europe before they ever have the chance to book another act in Gulf Shores.

Hangout Fest is not the only festival that has failed to build and foster talent. When corporations get involved in large scale events, the lineup and scheduling usually suffers creatively. Ironically we lost Chevrolet as a sponsor, but the acts got more mainstream. It doesn’t help to book large pop acts as headliners. It helps smaller acts grow when given the right time and environment. The festival’s organization has been poorly ran since 2014. I doubt this trend changes moving forward.

In 2013 and 2014, the festival hired out a press group to work with musicians and press. That is not happening anymore. At other large scale events, the festival will have multiple press conferences to maximize press. The Hangout Fest really needs to rethink the way the handle press, ticket sales, booking and security. On Thursday, I had no problems with security, but I was improperly searched on Saturday, as well as many other guests.

Big Freedia was a delight in many ways for myself. Teddy found his style and lyrics to be extremely repetitive. I found that dancers on stage held my attention, but the lyrics and song selection was a bit unconventional.