I realized that my Hangout wrap-up was extensively covered on AMG, but not posted here.
As an experience, I don’t think there are many festivals that can compete with Hangout. The bright white sand-filled beach is an amenity that is truly tough to beat. 2011 showed the festival had some growing to do, as organizers weren’t prepared for such a large crowd. 2012 displayed that Shaul and co. knew what they figured out what needed fixing. Grounds were expanded, the Xbox tent grew to match the increased interest in EDM and food/water/toilets were more than adequate. My first experience with VIP lived up to the hype with unlimited drinks, ample viewing areas and the pool on the beach next to the main stage was unbelievable. While the majority of attendees don’t experience VIP, I’ll bet most fans at Hangout were ecstatic with their weekend. Hangout was also able to reel in big name sponsors like BP and Chevy, which certainly helped. The “catch a Chevy” rides to and from the festival were especially key when you are 1.5 miles from festival gates. The giant inflatable Chevy waterslide was also a nice touch after 2 days of fun in the sun. Anyone who complains about Hangout “selling out” to corporate sponsors (even if BP is one of them) doesn’t understand how much it costs to put on these events and the extra dough improved the overall experience.
While the line-up wasn’t stellar, I did see every band I came to see, which isn’t a guarantee at most festivals. I was also able to appreciate the acts I really wanted to see without jumping from stage to stage in the sun. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, my fandom for Edward Sharpe and Gary Clark Jr. has certainly increased and I have a new appreciation for Michael Franti’s beach party and the Dispatch hype I had heard about in college. The 2/3 of the headliners were mostly a underwhelming, but Jack White earned every bit of hype with a blistering blues & garage rock set. My only legitimate complaint for this year’s Hangout was sound levels. While some treat concerts as social gatherings, I shouldn’t be able to hear the spaced out dancers under the tent at Paul Oakenfold or anything but the bruising guitar and drum at Gary Clark Jr. I’m not sure if it was part of new city ordinances, but the volume could certainly have been cranked up.
I don’t know if I’ll be making a 4th trip in a row to Hangout, but year 3 justified the decision to return. We’ll just have to see what line-ups festival season brings in 2013. If the next year’s line-up is anything like Hangout 2011, my decision will be easy.
See below for links to all of my coverage of this year’s fest. It was truly a great experience and I hope I get the chance to cover future festivals in similar fashion.