Looming warm and bright in my concert-going horizon like a perfect storm of great times waiting to happen is the second annual Hangout Music Fest, a three-day event that ushers in the summer with tasty live music right on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. [Photo credit: Dave Vann.]
For me, the lineup alone was enough to get my attention. Favorites Ive never seen live, like Paul Simon, whose buoyant music is weaved into the fabric of my childhood memories, and Cee Lo Green, his booming soulful howl a powerful and vibrant addition to my musical collection; favorites Ive seen a number of times, but that can always always be counted on to entertain, like cheeky rockin Ween, Gene and Dean delivering a far more intense live show than you might expect from their brown humor albums and completely satisfying some sort of base human need to scream along to their perverse and absurd songs, and psyche-alt roots outfit My Morning Jacket, generally known for rocking the faces off their masses of fans (this one included) with blistering balls-out performances; favorites Ive seen once, but not in a very long time, like garage blues duo The Black Keys, who ambushed the Skippers stage in 2005 and have since blown up to mainstream levels, deservedly so, and the Foo Fighters, which raged Livestock 2000 and made me appreciate the force-of-nature otherwise known as Dave Grohl. Random unexpected additions also piqued my interest, like The Verve Pipe, the alt rock outfit that made their bread in the mid-90s with a chart-topping single, The Freshmen, released a childrens album in 2009, and makes two appearances on the Kids Stage; and Mariachi El Bronx, aka The Bronx, an LA-based punk band that makes mariachi-fused music.
Other factors drawing me to Gulf Shores, Alabama, for a musical adventure-vacation? The drive; it takes roughly eight hours and change, most of it straightforward highway. Piece of cake. The chance to spend quality time with great friends; because it isnt an experience unless you bring someone along. And finally (and most importantly), the setting; stages directly on the beach at a site surrounded by an abundance of waterside properties, which means you can find a room with a view at a great price and if youre savvy enough, one within walking distance to the fest, so you can stroll (or stumble) back to your place afterwards, no cab or designated driver required. Tourist trap? Yep. Worth it in this context? Totally.
If all this sounds a little like a dream come true to you, too, theres still a month left to make plans. Visit hangoutmusicfest.com for details.
With Paul Simon, Widespread Panic, Foo Fighters, Cee Lo Green, Flaming Lips, My Morning Jacket, Ween, The Black Keys, STS9, The Avett Brothers, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Primus, Umphreys Mcgee, Drive-by Truckers, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Mariachi El Bronx, Portugal. The Man, many others, May 20-22, Gulf Shores, Ala., $174 three-day pass.