Hangout Fest made its comeback after a two-year hiatus with a stunning lineup for three days of sun, sand, and quality vibes.
Hangout Fest is a staple of Gulf Shores. Each spring, they bring top-tier performances to the city, and after sitting on the sidelines for two years, their dedicated attendees were craving another stunning experience. While many were eyeing their return trip to the festival, I was gearing up for my first time at this sun-soaked experience. The butterflies were swirling as I headed to the airport to fly South on Thursday night. I was more than excited to be dancing the weekend away on the beach.
After a good night’s sleep, I woke up early Friday morning and headed to the front gates of Hangout Fest, completely unsure of what to expect when I walked in. The heat and humidity were rapidly picking up, but luckily we had prepped for the high temperatures with some ways to keep cool at the festival. Once our wristbands were scanned and our bags were checked, my friends and I ran through the sand to catch the first performance.
From the moment we stepped through the gates, we were blown away by the ultimate summer vibes and vibrant colors with the warm sand on our feet and the relaxing sound of the waves crashing in the background.
We made it to the Boom Stage, where Lucii brought out her signature otherworldly beats. She captivated the audience with every unique drop. A sea of hands in the air waved to the rhythm as hoards of audience members continued to pour into catch her mesmerizing tracks.
Her set came to a close, and we decided to walk around and explore all the venue had to offer before we headed over to the Surf Stage for Oliver Tree‘s unique performance. His set was as impressive as I expected it to be, and everyone in the audience sang every song along with him from start to finish. He and his band all wore astronaut-inspired outfits, and he jumped and danced around the stage to help build even more energy in the crowd.
We then had some time before the next artist I wanted to catch to explore the rest of the setup. We breezed past the Boom stage once again, catching a glimpse of Emo Nite, who had the crowd dancing and singing along with them before we grabbed some food and looked at all the different art installations, and of course, stopped at their painted school bus for a photo op.
We stopped by to catch a few minutes of LP Giobbi’s groovy house-fueled set before finally making it to the Hangout Stage to check out Zedd.
Since I first entered the scene, Zedd has always been one of my favorite artists, and his set emphasized precisely why. The crowd sang along to all of his hits, and he even brought out Maren Morris, who had performed earlier in the day, to sing their song “The Middle.” Pyrotechnics and fireworks lit up the night sky as he endlessly pumped up the audience, making it one of the more memorable moments of the weekend.
From there, we went directly to catch Fall Out Boy, a group I’ve wanted to see since I was young. Needless to say, this was a very special moment for me. Along with the rest of the crowd, I sang along to all of their most beloved hits as they jammed out. We rushed over to catch San Holo midway through his set, which was a shortened version of his live bb u ok? show. With his guitar in hand, he brought a perfect blend of beats that hyped up the crowd and other slowed-down tracks that evoked emotions. This album has meant a lot to me, so finally getting to hear those songs live felt surreal.
Unfortunately, San Holo had a competing time slot with Post Malone, so we left his set early to end the night with him. Post Malone stopped at nothing for an incredible end of the evening. The flames and fireworks lit up the night as the crowd hung on every word he sang before he finally thanked everyone to mark the end of the night’s festivities. It was time to make our way out of the festival after a successful first day and get some rest.
Off to a bit of a late start, we made it through the gates for the third day and made our way to the Monster Beach Club for SNBRN.
The Monster Beach Club offered a more intimate setting, and SNBRN brought the ultimate beach vibes as the crowd kicked up the sand as they danced to all of his futuristic drops. He brought the perfect energy to start the second day as we danced along to his tunes. We took some time after his set to enjoy the sights and the activities going on around. We made sure to bounce from stage to stage, catching moments of Surf Mesa, Leon Bridges, and The Band Camino.
We grabbed a snowcone and hopped on the Ferris Wheel, enjoying the view from the top of the entire festival grounds while soaking in even more heat. Afterward, we caught refreshed with water and sunscreen and took a break in the shade at the hammock beach before catching Illenium at the Hangout Stage.
Illenium’s set took my breath away. He played tracks off his newest album, Fallen Embers, and some of his older classics.
Illenium played as the sun was setting, creating an intensely magical moment. The audience sang along with their arms waving in the air and embracing one another as we all enjoyed this memorable moment as the air was cooling down. After a turn of events, GRiZ replaced Doja Cat, who was initially set to close out the Surf Stage.
A robotic voice welcomed us to the performance, and from that point on, his set did not disappoint. He brought the heat and hard-hitting beats and honored Doja Cat with a remix he had put together last minute. Of course, he brought out his saxophone to bless the crowd with what makes him such a highly praised artist. I was thrilled to finally check him off my list of bucket-list artists.
Finally, it was the moment I was most excited about for the weekend, Madeon was closing out the Boom Stage, and he brought his coveted Good Faith Forever live show. We found the perfect spot to enjoy the show’s entirety, and to no one’s surprise, it left me in absolute awe.
Although I have seen this show several times, Madeon never fails to add something new to his performance. The crowd’s faces lit up with the fire and lights, looking stunned as his visuals captivated them. Everyone screaming the lyrics to “All My Friends” as the waves crashed on the beach just yards away is certainly a moment I will never forget.
The third day started rough as a brutal storm pushed the start of the festival.
My friends and I arrived at the festival earlier on Sunday; however, we were all asked to leave due to the overhead storm. Fortunately, it passed relatively quickly though the day remained gloomy. When the festival grounds finally opened up, we made our way to the Surf Stage to catch Sueco. He certainly had a lively set as the crowd grew. Though the grounds were wet, and the rain was still falling, his performance was the perfect way to start the day.
Since it was the festival’s final day, we decided to take it easy, grabbed some food, and hung out at the Boom stage to catch Yung Bae, who brought disco vibes to the festival. His set was entertaining, and we were able to sit down for a bit just to enjoy watching the crowd dance to his retro grooves.
We set up shop at this stage for a bit to catch SIDEPIECE, who was another artist I was excited to see. They brought their house style to set the evening right, and everyone danced away to their undeniably catchy rhythms found on tracks like “On My Mind” and more. Don’t sleep on catching this duo if you can. They’re a fantastic time.
Unfortunately, we ended up having to leave a bit early to watch the end of Sublime with Rome‘s set. This performance shook up the electronic-dominated experience I had thus far with a dose of their reggae-rock, ska-fueled sound. They amassed quite the crowd at the Surf Stage, and people rocked out to the high energy they brought to the stage.
We then hydrated before sprinting over to the Malibu Beach House to catch GG Magree crushing the intimate stage.
GG Magree threw down some of her latest tracks but was clearly jamming out with the crowd the entire time. They matched her energy behind the decks as she tore the roof off during her set. We left her to set a bit early to catch the ending of Louis the Child, who crushed it. Although we couldn’t see their whole set, they brought endless energy and left the crowd in awe with their colorful energy.
After meandering through the venue, we finally returned to the Hangout Stage for Jack Harlow’s set. We sat towards the back and just enjoyed the music, but the crowd was going absolutely mad for him by singing along to every song and dancing with each other. Throughout his performance, he often addressed those in attendance, making it a personal experience for everyone and leaving a lasting impression on my friends and I.
Although the rain never really stopped, it felt incredibly refreshing against the heat.
Enjoying the weather, we caught Megan Thee Stallion live, and this, without a doubt, was one of the craziest crowds of the weekend. She shined on stage with her bedazzled bodysuit, and her dancers matched in blue metallic bodysuits. Megan Thee Stallion was more than just music, it was a full-on show, and although I’m not the biggest fan of rap, she certainly put on a colorful display that I was thrilled to witness.
After she exited the stage, we made our way back to the Boom Stage to watch Slander take control of their crowd in the rain. Although they had to minimize the pyrotechnics during their performance, they absolutely crushed their set at Hangout Fest with their track selection and vibrant production elements. Their beats hit hard, and their drops left everyone with their jaws on the floor as they were letting loose. Then, it was time for Tame Impala to close out the festival. There was no better set to attend for the final moments, as their euphoric beats and eye-popping visuals left everyone yearning for more time to dance.
Hangout Fest made a statement with their return to the festival scene and is one you should consider checking out.
My first experience at Hangout Fest was memorable. Not only does this festival pair two things that I love, music and the beach, but there was so much more beyond the beats that everyone was dancing away to. From the tasty eats and the roller disco to the art installations and the community of music lovers who flocked to Gulf Shores, few festivals have compared to this one that I’ve attended, and I can’t wait to make my way back next year.