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Florence and the Machine, Run the Jewels, Courtney Barnett Embrace the Southern Hospitality in Hangout Finale

May 23, 2016


“God damn it’s good to be back in the South,” Atlanta native Killer Mike, one-half of hip hop duo Run the Jewels exclaimed with a measured amount of relief as he and El-P hit the stage.

Appreciating the trademark Southern hospitality seemed to be a theme that ran throughout the day, as Run the Jewels as well as Lenny Kravitz (among many others) paid homage to the region. Kravitz mentioned that he spent the last few days in nearby Mobile, AL. Courtney Barnett, who jetted to the beach after making her debut appearance on Saturday Night Live, seemed to enjoy to more intimate confines as well.

The truth is—it was that kind of day. After a disastrous Friday and more scheduling issues on Saturday, Hangout Fest’s last act was delightfully uneventful. With the sun shining and all artists accounted for, the Gulf Shores, AL festival flexed its muscle that makes it one of the premiere destination events all summer long.

Musically too, this day offered up possibly the most diverse as early on fans could be spotted checking out Brit-rockers Coasts on the intimate Mermaid Stage (the band regretted dressing in all black for their set in the hot Alabama sun) or hitting the beach for sets from rapper Pell, who garnered an energetic and devoted audience, or the more electronic act and Twenty One Pilots touring mate Coleman Hell.

The jovial, exuberant crowd seemed content with bouncing around from stage to stage, simply enjoying their surroundings as opposed to worrying about what obstacle was coming next. That mentality made The Wailers’ early afternoon set on the main stage such a highlight, as the crowd (which leaned towards the younger side) sang along to Marley classics like “Three Little Birds,” “Exodus” and “One Love” among many others.

Those looking for something with a little more urgency wandered on land to the AXS TV Stage for Bass Drum of Death, who were playing not far from their hometown of Oxford, MS. Another group of happy Southerners, the garage rockers tore into one of the standout sets of the day as they work their way back from hiatus. Largely sticking to material from their 2011 debut GP City and 2013’s self-titled effort, one couldn’t help but yearn for new music from the group.

Back on the beach, it was again Killer Mike and El-P doing what has made them one of the premiere rap duos in the world. The set was filled with energy, passion and of course hilarious banter as Killer Mike, who has spent much of his off time stumping for Bernie Sanders, managed to work in a shot at Donald Trump. “We’ll love The Donald if he gets elected,” El-P said with a smirk. “Yeah, we’ll have a lot of material,” Mike quipped back. El-P, a native of Brooklyn, also joked that he too didn’t come dressed for the hot weather.

That type of on-stage chemistry is what makes Run the Jewels tick, as Mike and El-P ebb and flow right alongside each other throughout the entire set, never missing a beat. The duo also previewed new material from Run the Jewels 3, but didn’t offer much else in the way of a release date.

If Run the Jewels and Pell were highlights for the world of rap on this day, Fetty Wap was unfortunately a lowlight. The “Trap Queen” singer’s disjointed and erratic set on the main stage seemed to lose the crowd almost instantly, only briefly reviving itself when the rapper went into one of his few hits.

As evening fell, Grimes was crowd-surfing her way through the Mermaid Stage and sister act HAIM assembled their faithful for an impassioned set as the group begins a return to the stage. The group also paid homage to headliner Florence and the Machine, whom they opened for Florence during her 2012 UK arena tour. “We want to thank her for giving us a chance,” Danielle Haim, a one-time touring member of Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas’ bands, said from the stage.

The lone hiccup of the day came towards the end of Lenny Kravitz’s set on the Hangout Stage, as the rock vet closed his set with an uber-extended version of “Let Love Rule” from his first record. Before the tune, Kravitz mentioned he had five minutes left, and twenty minutes later was shoeless, running through the crowd high-fiving nearly every member of his rather large audience. Before the festival cut off the PA due to the time restraint, Kravitz’s set was peppered with some notable and surprising jams from his large band, as they extended tunes like ‘Always On the Run” and “Fly Away,” among others.

The final chapter of Hangout Festival was indeed dominated by some of the most vibrant female voices in music today as Ellie Goulding led one singalong after the other on the Surf Stage and Courtney Barnett rocked the smaller AXS TV Stage with her band, fresh off an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Barnett kept the chatter to a minimum but certainly seemed to prefer the open ocean environment to the confines of 30 Rock. Florence Welch then emerged on the Hangout Stage to begin her headlining set. Welch and her band tipped their cap to Calvin Harris, who could not perform the previous night due to a car accident, with a cover of the Scottish DJ’s own “Sweet Nothing,” along with her many hits like “Shake It Out” and a finale of “Dog Days Are Over.”

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