The 4th Annual Hangout Music & Arts Festival Review

In an era of overindulgence it can be difficult to experience a once in a lifetime moment with friends and family. Music festivals are a huge part of my life. Since Bonnaroo 2002, I have been searching for an event that could recreate that magic and harness it for the masses. After covering the 2013 Hangout Music Festival, I can officially say, they are doing it with no signs of letting up.

Tunica, Mississippi

Tunica, Mississippi

The festival is now in their fourth year, and has grown to reach the demands of a widespread fan base. This year the festival featured an expanded Thursday Pre-Party by adding a third stage for live performances. They reworked some of the stages, and brought back some familiar pieces to the event.

This was my first time traveling to the Gulf Coast, and I quickly noticed how respectful the people in the southern section of the country treated other individuals. I was approached and introduced to several new people. It was a common occurrence for someone to walk up to me, and start a meaningful conversation. The openness in the culture is very appealing to everyone traveling from an outside area that I contacted over the weekend.

Thursday, May 16 was a day for hot music in the South with Future Rock, a trio from Chicago. They opened the action up on the BMI Stage that was also known as the Hangout’s outdoor restaurant stage. It was refreshing to see the trio continue to expand their raw form of electronic music. Felix M., bassist for the band hopped down in the crowd after their set and hung out with some of the chill fans before heading out back to the road.

Wick-it the Instigator popped the opening set in the Boom Boom Tent from 3:15-3:55. After his set, we talked about performing an unofficial show during the 2012 Hangout Music Festival, and how this year compared to last year. YouTube Link.

It was my first time seeing Wick-it live, and I was blown away by his attention to detail. He hails from Nashville, Tennessee and delivers a nontraditional approach to electronic music. His debut set at the Hangout Music Festival helped pave the way for independent artists to get involved on an unofficial level, in hopes to gain exposure for a spot at the festival down the road.

There was several debut sets over the weekend, and historic returns like The Black Crowes, Trey Anastasio, The Roots and Gov’t Mule. This festival builds on its own history instead of washing it away in hopes to impress the next generation. An ingenious piece to the Hangout Music Festival provides diversity and history in the lineup each year. I’m throughly excited to see which bands they book for 2014.

JOHNNYSWIM is an act that won a spot on the lineup via crowd sourcing and MTV. In addition to bringing a new act to the festival, MTV also provided a live stream of several performances during the event.

My father joined me for the Conspirator set on Thursday in the Boom Boom Tent. We had watched their set at a local music festival in 2011, and we were excited to see how the band has changed things up. Conspirator is composed of members from The Disco Biscuits and various other groups. My father describes their sound as “the future of music.” They do an excellent job of blending traditional and nontraditional instruments together in a dynamic fashion. It was a smart idea having them gear the crowd up from 5:25-6:20.

Hangout Music Festival 2013

Hangout Music Festival 2013

Lotus performed for a massive crowd under the Boom Boom Tent to close down the stage on Thursday. It was my ninth Lotus show, and I was pumped to hear them release some of their new hip-hop styled tracks for the Hangout Music Festival crowd. The Denver/Philadelphia trendsetters continued to push forward at the top tier of the music festival circuit. Throughout the four day weekend I was grabbing photos and live footage of the event. During the Lotus set, I decided to take advantage of the Mega Drop carnival ride, and take my Canon camera to the top of the drop for a scenic shot.

During my moments in the media area, I noticed the members of Umphrey’s McGee getting ready to do an interview. I was getting my equipment put away quietly and professionally, as Brendan Bayliss and Andy Farag were prepping for quick discussion on camera. Right as I go to stand up, R. Kelly’s ‘Ignition’ starts playing in the background. The ghetto in me must have busted loose for a moment, because when I went to stand up, I must have had a little too much funk in my step. As I stand up next to the Chicago rock legends with my funky body language, I noticed Brennan looking over at me with a smile on his face.

Moments later, I am walking on East Beach Boulevard, (the main drag on the festival grounds). As I am walking causally, I noticed Brendan walking next to me. I look over at him, and say a partial “Almost Famous” quote to break the ice, “hey, you play guitar in Umphrey’s McGee. I’ve been watching your band for over ten years.” I asked him if we could walk and talk. Brendan was on the move, but agreed. I let me know about my independent media outlet, and inquired about his performance later that evening.

“We have a set later, but right now I’m just walking around in my flip flops,” Bayliss said.

It was a great quote, so I asked him if I could use that for live coverage on the event. He was cool with it, so I tweeted it moments later.

After the wildness let out of the Boom Boom Tent, guests quickly made their way to the Letting Go Stage for Railroad Earth and Umphrey’s McGee. Both sets were on the shorter side according to the message boards following the event. One suggestion may be to make sets longer, and provide additional stages. It was my second Railroad Earth show, and my twelfth Umphrey’s McGee show. Overall the production on Thursday provided the best Pre-Party that I have attended in my 11 years of experience at different festivals around the country.