Festivalist ’11: Hangout Out Music Festival Preview

Now that the duplex (with a pool!) has been secured, tickets have been purchased, vacation days approved and most of the artists have been announced, its time to breakdown this year’s Hangout Music Fest. Not only is it the 2nd year for this unique festival, its even bigger than 2010’s inagural event. An air conditioned tent will serve as a 5th stage, Hammock Beach will be even better with a “music lagoon” complete with shade and hammocks and a newly erected tower will showcase 360 views. I like the sounds of all of those things.

The main dish people have been salivating over though is the line-up. Not only are acts like Girl Talk, Michael Franti, Matisyahu and Keller Williams returning, but the organizers went an got heavy hitters like Paul Simon, Foo Fighters, Black Keys with plenty of appeal for everyone. Hangout Fest still definitely leans on the “jam band” side of acts though. Something I’m very interested in, but never got into for some reason. 3rd headliner, Widespread Panic has a banner in Philips Arena for 15 consecutive sell outs, but I haven’t seen them yet. Other names jam aficionados might recognize are Umphrey’s McGee, Warren Hayes Band (also an Allman Brother), Slightly Stoopid (might be similar to Ozomatli), Big Gigantic and eletronic instrumentalists STS9. Other instrumentalist groups like Galactic and Medeski, Martin and Wood should add some jazz/funk to the jam list. Its almost as if Hangout organizers (similar to Wakarusa, Mountain Jam and others) are carrying the Bonnaroo torch as jam festivals. I’m sure there are heavier jam music gatherings, but now that Bonnaroo is essentially a pop/indie fest, the market is open.

Aside from the jam bands, there is plenty of other fun to be had. On the southern rock front, I’m obviously most excited for Black Keys (Lolla ‘08 was ridiculous) and Athens-stalwarts Drive-By Truckers, but JJ Grey & Mofro have been getting lots of play lately (thanks Jenny!). The Avett Brothers have certainly caused a stir since their recent live DVD and performance at the Grammy’s and I’m sure will be worth they hype in person. Flaming Lips are making good on their cancellation from last year, Old Crow Medicine Show have some joints and My Morning Jacket have to be good, right?

Cee-Lo will certainly wow with his soulful and eclectic catalog. Minus the Bear, Ween and Portugal. the Man should hold it down on the alt rock tip and I fully expect Foo Fighters to take me back to middle school nostalgia. I’m truly looking forward to the electronic music artists though. Gregg Gillis (uh duh), but Bassnectar and Pretty Lights wouldn’t have the following they’ve acquired without a ragin’ live show. I’m event at the late night shows this year with Bassnectar on Friday (tickets) and Pretty Lights on Saturday (tickets).

If you can have any reservations about listening to live music on the beach, my only complaints are the lack of hip-hop (again) and indie bands. I give Hangout credit though, they have themselves a pretty unique venue and line-up that should be commended. If I really wanted a mix of hip-hop and indie there are 20 other options I could jet to. Nothing wrong with a weekend of new music to enjoy next to the Gulf.

I’m not going to obsess about the daily line-up yet. F.Y.I. its not a schedule unless you list times and stages, Hangout. The only potential obstacles I see are if Cee-Lo/Avett Brothers or Girl Talk/Black Keys crossover. At least the artist alignment confirmed our group’s decision to stay Sunday (instead of Thursday). COUNTING DOWN TO MAY 20TH!!!!

Head to Hangout Music Fest’s official site for more details on Lodging, Tickets ($175+fees), Shuttles and more. Go here to see my recap of last year’s event.
P.S. I’m working on mixtape to coincide with the 3 days of sun, sand and music. However, I’m not too proud to say I’m gonna need some help this year. I’m familiar with many of the acts at this year’s Hangout, but I need some song suggestions/mp3s for the following:
-Widespread Panic
-My Morning Jacket
-Warren Hayes Band
-Brandi Carlile
-Xavier Rudd
-Railroad Earth
-Big Gigantic
-Dead Confederate
-Jonathan Tyler & Northern Lights
-Mariachi El Bronx
-Civil Twilight

Thanks for the help and look for a mixtape in the next two weeks!