Kings of Leon, The Shins, Passion Pit, Big Gigantic and More Highlight Hangout’s Opening Day
Photos by ©Cara Bloch via The Hangout’s Facebook page
The King of Leon anchored The Hangout’s opening night with a massive, 100-minute set on the festival’s namesake stage. As fans gathered on the sandy white beaches of Gulf Shores, AL, Kings of Leon opened their set with the Come Around Sundown track “Radioactive” and charged through a mix of hits and deeper cuts. In addition to signature radio favorites like “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody,” they offered “Black Thumbnail,” “Taper Jean Girl,” “My Party” “The Bucket,” “On Call,” “Cornerstone,” “Renegades” and even the new tune “It Don’t Matter.
In many ways, the show felt like a homecoming for Southeast-bred group. The performance also reminded fans that the once roots-leaning arena-rockers could still headline a festival with purpose after a touring hiatus stemming from Caleb Followill’s onstage meltdown in 2011.
Followill even mentioned that he planed to “hangout all weekend.”
The Kings’ set closed the festival’s busy opening day (The Hangout technically kicked off on Thursday with an onsite pre-festival bonus day of music featuring jamband favorites like Umphrey’s McGee, Conspirator, Railroad Earth and others.) Newly anointed synth-pop stars Passion Pit, who recently played their first arena shows, drew one of the day’s biggest crowds to The Hangout stage. Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos has also struggled with his recent star status but remained confident and collected throughout his band’s high-energy performance. Even early songs like “Sleepyhead,” which was originally released as a home recordings, possessed a new weight.
Sax-drums EDM combo Big Gigantic, who have performed at every Hangout since the festival’s inception in 2010, drew sprawling crowds to the Letting Go Stage. Members of Conspirator took watched performance sidestage. Anders Osborne offered the day’s best straight-ahead jamband performance on the BMI Stage while Toots & the Maytals’ cover of John Denver’s “Country Road” took on new meaning in light of the 15th anniversary of singer/songwriter’s death. Dance bands ranging from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to Afrojacks ruled the Boom Boom Tent.
On The Hangout stage, Jim James continued supported his solo debut Regions Of Light And Sound of God and, like almost every show on his current tour, performed the album in its entirety. The album’s songs have mostly grown into loose, expansive live vehicles since the album’s release and songs like the set-closing “God’s Love to Deliver” now almost feel like My Morning Jacket songs.
Some of the festival’s marquee indie bands got into the festival’s hippie-beach spirit, too. Grizzly Bear remarked that they could finally “check Alabama off the list” of states they played while The Shins invited Jessie Baylin—who was at the festival to see her husband, Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill—to sit in on “Simple Song.” The Shins often introspective singer James Mercer also broke character and cheerfully thanked “whoever invented the bikini.”